COMBAT OUTPOST CASTLE, Afghanistan -- Much accolade is given to the Afghan National Army, but there is another unit of fellow countrymen that is providing security to their republic – the Afghan Border Police.
The ABP partnered with the Marines and sailors of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward), for a patrol through local villages outside Combat Outpost Castle, Jan. 27, 2011.
The ABP’s mission is to enforce laws and provide security to the southern areas of Helmand province near the Pakistan border.
“The ABP is getting out there to gain the trust and confidence of the public,” said 1st Lt. Jason Gates, a mentor with Border Advisory Team-1, assigned to 3rd LAR. “They want to show that their government is stepping up.”
The ABP is still in its early stages, but things are moving forward.
“They are inspecting vehicles and their personnel,” Gates said. “And their overall patrolling techniques are getting much better.”
For now, their biggest mission is to let people know they are around and there to help, Gates added.
“We have been able to get them to think outside the box and do things without our help,” said Gates, a 33-year-old native of Douglas, Wyo. “They are learning to be completely self-sufficient.”
The patrol spanned a distance of more than 11 kilometers, or 6.5 miles, and the Marines and Afghans talked to many villagers and village elders.
“We talked to a local Mullah who we have not been able to talk to for awhile,” said 1st Lt. Tom Macphee, a team leader with the Police Mentoring Team, 3rd LAR. “He expressed concern for the canals.”
Unfortunately, the area is suffering a drought, making it difficult to grow crops in the dry fields, Macphee said. The Marines take note of the elder’s concerns and promise to help anyway they can.
“We paid another man in the village for a chicken he had given to the Afghan Uniformed Police,” said Macphee. For another local, his needs were medical.
The Marines and ABP stopped to help a local Afghan man who complained of poor vision and high blood pressure.
Petty Officer Third Class Dylan Morris, a corpsman with 3rd LAR took the man’s blood pressure and then recommended ways he could help lower the risks of high blood pressure.
The Marines and ABP were able to help more than just physically; they are giving the local villagers a better future to believe in.
“The most important thing to these people is security,” MacPhee said. “As long as we are out there every day, they believe they are safe.”
The Marines plan to do just that by continuing to patrol the area with the Afghan Border Police and offering their help to the locals.