An Afghan National Army soldier prepares a terrain model in Garmsir, Helmand province, Afghanistan.
GARMSIR DISTRICT, Afghanistan— Marines in Garmsir are seen less frequently on patrols with the Afghan National Army as they take a step back as partners and the ANA become more independent.
Marines with Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, operating in Garmsir have transitioned from a partnership role with ANA soldiers at the most junior levels, to mentoring the ANA at particular leadership positions only.
"Before we arrived, the Marines were partnered at a lower level,” said Capt. Ryan R. Kinder, the ANA Weapons Tolay advisor team leader, Kilo Company, 3rd Bn., 8th Marines. "They were assigned to all the different (patrol bases, combat outposts and forward operating bases). Now, we've taken two positions only. The (ANA) can interact with the locals on their own completely Marine-free.”
The Marines are watching the ANA as they step back and become solely their mentors.
"(The ANA) are doing really well,” said Staff Sgt. Larry R. Lintz, an advisor with 3rd Bn., 8th Marines. "These guys are resilient, they think on their feet, and they do a lot more with a lot less.”
The ANA troops in Garmsir are effective because they are proactive in helping the locals when needed, said the Marine advisors.
"A lot of ANA are very respected by the elders,” said Lintz, 36, from Meadville, Penn. "They get calls a lot in the middle of the night for problems, and they actually go out and fix the problems, so it works really well.”
The key, the Marines said, is making sure the leaders of the ANA are keeping their troops properly supplied.
"What we used to do is give them quite a bit of equipment,” said Kinder, 25, from Jacksonville Beach, Fla. "Now we kind of cut that off, so they're only getting what their Kandak provides them.”
International Security Assistance Forces have been partnered with the ANA troops in the area for years. Now that they think ANA troops are ready, the Marines are letting them take the wheel.
"They now send patrols out on their own,” said Kinder. "Eventually they won't have any advisors or have any Marines partnered with them. They are more than capable of accomplishing the mission on their own.”
Story by Cpl. Kenneth Jasik
Regional Command Southwest