SANGIN, Afghanistan --
The Marines of I Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment maintain a great relationship with the locals in the village outside their patrol base near Sangin.
They do this through daily security patrols throughout the area and by communicating with the people.
“The big thing with today’s patrol was talking with the people about their farms and animals,” said Cpl. Jacob Marler, squad leader, from St. Louis, Mo. “We asked them about what they grow, what type of fertilizer they use, what their most important crops are, what their most important animals are and about how they get their water for their crops.”
While Marler and part of his squad were talking to the villagers, half of the squad continued to patrol throughout the village.
“We started going through the city looking for other possible crossing points or choke points to watch out for,” Cpl. Mark Yenalavitch said, assistant patrol leader, from Victorville, Calif.
We were basically surveying the area to get a better picture of the city,” Yenalavitch said.
Once the Marines were in the small village, they were greeted by dozens of children and a few adults.
“We talk to the villagers daily,” said Marler. “The kids here always run up and talk to you. Most of the IED (improvised explosive device) finds we’ve had here are from the kids coming up and telling us about them.”
According to the Marines, one of the biggest reasons their relationship is so strong with the locals is due to the diligence of the unit that came before them, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.
“1/6 did a good job out here,” said Cpl. David MacKay Jr., squad leader, from Littleton, N.H. “We had a good turnover with them. They had an outstanding relationship with the villagers and that did wonders for us out here.”
The patrols the Marines conduct are usually accompanied by soldiers from the Afghan National Army as part of the turnover process from American to Afghan security forces.
“You can see the transfer from the Marines to the ANA,” Marler said. “That’s definitely the most rewarding part of this deployment. They are definitely showing an improvement from when we first got here. They’re working harder, getting better and taking it more seriously. This shows that they’ll be able to handle things when we leave.”