March 8th, 2010
03:35 PM ET

From fighters to fixers: Marines woo villagers

Yesterday I wrote a piece for Afghanistan Crossroads touching on the main challenge facing the coalition now that the fighting in Marjah has come to an end: winning over the local population.

Today, Monday, we saw first hand what that means. We went to the rough base of the Charlie Company to join a patrol heading to the village of Nasiri, outside Marjah. Mad-dogs, Englishmen and the Marines go out in the midday sun.

The purpose of the patrol was not to engage in combat with the Taliban, however. It was essentially a social call, intended to build relationships between the Marines and the people around Marjah. (Watch the video of troops practicing diplomacy in the village)

After trudging through muddy fields (some growing opium) and jumping (with packs and flak jackets) across irrigation canals, we came upon a group of farmers taking a tea break.

Twenty-two-year-old patrol leader Jerrod St. Orge greeted the farmers through his translator, and explained he wanted to meet the village elders to discuss their concerns. St. Orge was accompanied by 2nd Lt. George Russo, a Marine civil affairs officer.

“Can we continue to grow opium?” one of the farmers asked Russo.

He hesitated for a moment. “Yes, you can, but we’ll try to find you alternatives to opium as soon as possible,” he replied.

The farmers told Russo their irrigation canals needed repairs, that they needed new pumps, that they wanted schools to be built, they wanted electricity and they wanted more jobs for the people of the village.

Their wish list was long. The Marines have money to compensate for war damage to civilian infrastructure and to fund small local projects. At some point, however, real aid agencies will become involved, in addition to the Afghan government.

But in this day in Nasiri, the only representatives of the Afghan government, so to speak, were the 10 Afghan Army soldiers accompanying the Marines.

I found it ironic that the Marines, the same men who just a few weeks ago had been fighting, were now in the business of reconstruction.

Russo is bemused as well. An architect, he then became a Marine. “First I studied to build, then I was trained to destroy,” he told me. “And now I’m doing this.”

With their base — a dusty outpost next to an irrigation canal and a field of opium — on the edges of Marjah, the Marines patrol the area on a daily basis. Our patrol was one of the least tense I’ve ever seen either here or in Iraq. Villagers weren’t ordered to keep a distance or go away, kids trailed along, the Marines had learned a bit of Pashtu, the kids a bit of English so there was constant banter, none of it hostile. The Marines took advantage of their outing to buy potatoes to supplement their rations, along with cartons of cigarettes.

This kind of close contact, Russo says, helps in the transformation of their role from fighters to fixers. “We’re the ones there, up front, working day in and day out with these people, so they know more than some of the big agencies that  work from a planning room.”

soundoff (100 Responses)
  1. Andrew Lubin

    Patrick – (Post # 93). No, you've got it wrong. We pay the villagers $ 5.00 / day to clean out the canals, and they love the job. And then the water from the newly working canals flows to farmers who grow what-corn-grapes-etc, etc – which they then sell into the cities and generate a profitable farms.

    Marines DO NOT hire contractors; they hire villagers at local rates.

    Frankly you are wrong about the villagers seeing only M-16 rounds and bombs. They see Marines bringing jobs, schools, stability – all of which is welcomed. Been there – seen it. It works!

    March 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Nadeem Zafar

    1- CNN is doing what any media outlet will do when its country is on a warfront. But are we WWII readers? Do we know what this story is aimed at?
    2- I hope am wrong but Marines still do not seem to understand Afghanis. They will get bucks from US/Aid Agencies promising anything, but if Taliban give them more bucks, they will not hesitate from planting an IED.

    March 17, 2010 at 5:00 am | Report abuse |
  3. Patrick

    About time some good stuff gets reported. I salute the Marines.

    And Johnny, (post 79), the day you invent a time-machine and go back to 2001 and stop any military incursion in Afghanistan, you go right ahead. Until then, let's focus on what needs to be done. If we pull out, that just says that we consider it somehow moral to fly in, bomb the living sh*t out of a country, dispose of a government, and then run away without rebuilding a structure. You may not agree with the war, but it's too late to complain about why we shouldn't be there. We have to focus on how to help the country and not just leave them flailing in the wind.

    The Afghans already had to deal with us dropping support for them once, and it gave way to an extremist governing body who came over the mountains from Pakistan (Taliban). Let's not make the same mistake twice.

    March 17, 2010 at 2:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. Jon Hausrath

    I'd like to know how many millions of dollars we are spending to have our military search for trinkets that cost pennies in the hopes of fixing generators, irrigators, etc.. The military believes that their pandering might change the minds of people but these people see only the M-16 rounds and civilian air-strikes. One civilian air-strike affects these villages more than most Americans realize, though I realize they are against our "policy," the material facts on the ground show injured villagers are a HEAVY burden on villages when struck; these people are mostly malnourished (except for the warlords that are our political allies) and do not have adequate care for themselves, let alone resources to deal with a mass casualty (if such an unlikely were to occur).
    Also, when marines hire contractors in the local population, I believe this is a waste of money as well, since the job is usually over paid and most likely not completed.

    March 17, 2010 at 2:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. gerry k

    I just want to wish all the members of the Marine Corp..out there in the frontline...on our behalf..a safe and happy Saint Patricks day....from a friend in Ireland...god bless..!!!

    March 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. New Englander

    Minor Point:

    The Marine does not have positive control of his weapon on the ground to his left. His body and head are turned away and he might not immediately notice it being slowly withdrawn towards his back. Not a good idea while among a crowd.

    Important Point:

    This article reminds me. I have a great book about less-than squad-sized Marine teams living local in in Vietnam villages. I will have to go find and re-read. The Marine Corps has an interesting mix of action-oriented jarheads and extraordinary innovators.

    March 16, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Doc Chuck Hancock

    I'm sure glad the Marines are on our side! No better friend; no worse enemy than Marines.
    'Ol Doc Viet Vet K/3/5

    March 16, 2010 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jon Hausrath

    I wonder how many millions of dollars were spent in the making of that photograph. The fact of the matter is the marines go village to village wasting the taxpayer's dollars. What sense does it make for a squad of soldiers to go around looking for the parts for a generator that cost pennies, only to pander to people who don't care one way or the other. In my opinion, all the pandering doesn't work because the M-16's and airstrikes give away our real, material actions.
    Most Americans don't realize how bad civilian bombings are on villages. These villagers have a hard enough time taking care of their own malnourished people. When someone is hurt the whole village might not have the resources to help. And the corpsmen and medics' motto is "conserve fighting strength" not "first do no harm."
    If anything they are making the U.S. less safe by destabilizing Pakistan and encouraging warlords to be our political partners.
    The only marine I endorse is Smedley Bulter, who said "war is a racket" to that I say, "Semper Fi, Smedley"

    March 16, 2010 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joel

    Poor Daniel. Living in his make believe world where people don't fly airplanes into buildings, decapitate social workers and reporters, and strap on suicide bombs and blow innocents to kingdom come. Daniel, there are evil people afoot in our country and in the world. Law enforcement officers here, and our Marines and their fellow Armed Forces members deployed overseas, are keeping your naive rear end safe and secure. I saw your type when I came home from Vietnam. You and your ilk refuse to grow up. Don't worry though. The United States Marines identified in this article are out there. Your butt is covered as a result of their expertise and dedication. The only thing you have to worry about is freeloading your next cafe latte. Well done and Semper Fi, Marines! May God speed you home safe an sound! JLL, US Army, Retired

    March 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sharonl7340

    Marines are the guys I want beside me in a fight; they are bad mama-jamas! But they also have the heart to rebuild at the end of the fight. Bless them all!

    March 16, 2010 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
  11. johnr

    Well done Marines, Semper Fi brothers
    and, oh, by the way, Daniel, don't you have, like, a peace parade or flag burning or something to go to?

    March 16, 2010 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. raul

    proud of you guys....semper fi

    March 16, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Paul

    Well done Marines! Keep up the good work over there, finish strong, and come back home.

    -Semper Fi

    March 16, 2010 at 9:39 am | Report abuse |
  14. ceb1john

    Well done Marines! I bet its nice to be able to show them your human side. Keep up the great work you are doing! Ooorah!

    March 16, 2010 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  15. JOel

    This has been going on for a long time. Both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. It just doesn't get reported. Schools have been built by the military. Farmers have received help from the military. The military has gone out into cities and villages to build rapport. But what happens?, the enemey sees this and launch attacks from populated areas. They go and destroy the newly built buildings. They harass and threaten farmers and villagers. Then when the military gets attacked by taliban hiding in these same locations we here about the US in a very negative way. Then you have ***theads like some on this board calling our men and women murderers.

    March 15, 2010 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Brooke

    I look at these young men and the role they're playing in the history of these Iraqi's lives, and I think how proud their mothers must be of them. Rightly so.

    March 15, 2010 at 11:53 am | Report abuse |
  17. Nick Costanzo

    America, may we always do what is correct. Thank You to all our Brave servicemen and women for taking a stand for freedom.

    March 15, 2010 at 9:35 am | Report abuse |
  18. Dave

    I am verry happy to see possative stories being published. Most of the US does not understand the good our troops have done within the war on terror due to only negative stories being published. Great job Marines!! Semper Fi GySgt (Retired)

    March 15, 2010 at 9:08 am | Report abuse |
  19. stephen

    This is great.

    But it's not because of the administration. This has been the tactic for years. Remove the threat, rebuild the community and put the trust back into a safer local government.

    The only reason people 'think' this is new is because it wasn't properly reported under the last administration. Try going over there, most people want us there because they know the alternative is hell. Too many people on here pretending they know anything about the war complaining about bombings etc. So pray tell, without guns/bombs how would these people be free of the taliban? It's a multi-phase campaign.

    March 15, 2010 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  20. Alexis

    I'm so proud of my friend, Jarrod St. Onge of 1/6, my boyfriend of 3/6, and all of the troops out there in Afghanistan! Ooh-rah Marines! Come back home safe.

    March 15, 2010 at 6:59 am | Report abuse |
  21. Laura Whesper

    My very good friend, ex boyfriends, and love of my life is out there right now.....I'm nervous as hell and trying to stay strong, he just left one week ago. Ugh....All I can do is hope my ass off......Wake me up when September ends.....

    March 15, 2010 at 6:58 am | Report abuse |
  22. Johnny

    Makes me wonder who is the mastermind behind these comments. Possibly a military Internet Propaganda Specialist.

    A newly enlisted recruit is likely posting positive feedback on these forums and blogs about a unpopular war to win the hearts and minds of people at home to continue supporting this endless operation with no clear goal.

    The God Bless and "I've never been so proud" comments are touching.

    May I suggest a "Atta Boy" thrown in occassionally.

    Please wake up! The Soviets realized the futility of being in Afganastan. A direct quote from Ho Chi Minh: You will kill 10 of our men, and we will kill 1 of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it.

    Seems about right in Afganastan. How many more people need to die for absolutely nothing. If I am wrong please convince me. One sentence "What are we there for" Halting Opium? Not according to this article.. grow gow away... Even the presidents (Karzai) brother is linked to the drug trade. Look this up on google. So are we regulating the opium trade.

    March 15, 2010 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  23. David Matthews

    The Marines have been doing this from the first day in Afganistan and inspite of the negetive media coverage and ignoring the hard work of the Marines. The Corps has persisted and shall continue to do so. That is what they do. God Bless you all.

    March 14, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  24. asmrbd

    I must be in the twilight zone, Iam on a CNN site and their are praises for the Marines.
    Strange, maybe there is hope for America.

    March 14, 2010 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Julian

    To Gary, Daniel and Ben: What have you guys done for yur country or the Afghan peole? Have you served? These Marines know the risks they take by serving. Death, injury and in some cases ridicule from those who do not serve because they choose to ( aright secured for them by these same Marines) or do not have the intestinal fortitude to do so. Sleep well gentlemen, the Marines have your backs.

    March 14, 2010 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
  26. Jean

    Thanks for your service. You make us proud to be Americans. Stay safe.

    March 14, 2010 at 7:35 am | Report abuse |
  27. Kevin

    Just so everyone knows. UAV's (drones as you call them) do not carry 500 pound bombs. At least not yet anyway.

    March 14, 2010 at 3:25 am | Report abuse |
  28. Dave

    Here's a thought: how about if the aid groups and military give the folks on the pointy end of the stick a few more resources, so they can do something like schedule a backhoe to clear out the irrigation ditches, or maybe get them at least ONE new pump, and that kind of thing. In other words, instead of trying to fix everything all at once, start snipping off whatever loose ends there are to show that there's SOME progress being made. Might accidentally give the Afghans reason to believe we're actually trying to help, instead of talking them to death.

    March 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Darian

    President Regan once said " Some people live an entirle life time thinking if they ever made a difference in someone's life, the Marines don't have that problem".

    March 13, 2010 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
  30. sveda

    LOL..perfect!...This is exactly what we need. Why can't stories like this be reported more often in the news? Goes a long way to show the compassionate side of America.

    March 12, 2010 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Emily

    We need more stories like this in the media. The Marines are the ones making this world a better place. Makes me very proud of my brother-in-law and all of his friends who are over there making a meaningful and noticeable difference.

    March 12, 2010 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  32. vglover

    i love our troops. Well done!!!!!

    March 12, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Keith

    Sweeeet. This is what we need. People helping people.

    March 12, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  34. Bree D.

    sooo proud of my brother for being a marine 🙂

    March 12, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  35. Monica Munoz

    Thank you Marines! you are doing an incredible job! Every day you spend there is an invaluable gift to their communities and to all of us at home and we appreciate it. And thanks to all the armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq. Your commitment and dedication make all of us proud. With love and respect,

    March 12, 2010 at 12:39 pm | Report abuse |
  36. Mavv11

    While I applaud the work of the brave men and woman in the U.S. military, the posts on this site ignorant. You cant bomb a village one day, and expect respect the next. You cant kill innocent civilians (which has happened several times in this offensive), then talk about spreading freedom throughout the world and gain support.

    I love the USA, but can understand why the rest of the world dosent share those sentiments. The American way isnt the only way...

    March 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  37. felix rodriguex

    Well done sodiers, after all this is all what AMERICA is all about. The world see us as the world police or the aggresor. All we want is peace on earth and at home. Good job marines. i cant ever finish thank you for the work well done here at home and around the world. That is to tell the world, we are not the predator we are caring the United State Of America the land of opportunity, the land of the free. GOD BLESS AMERICA AND ITS ARM FORCES.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  38. Jefe

    Daniels comment about ungodly drones, Are you kidding me? Whose side are you on? We're at war. What do you want to do? Send troops in everywhere? You wouldn't be saying that if your brother or relative was fighting there. We should use all methods available to fight this enemy. Your post is nonsense.

    March 12, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  39. Alan D. Opra

    Semper Fi We are proud of everyone of you!

    March 12, 2010 at 9:00 am | Report abuse |
  40. Frank

    Good job Marines, with the ever shifting world it was only a matter of time before the military leaders changed their strategies for a new kind of war. I hope it works out and leads to better relations for all involved. To post 41, it is not our job to spread freedom and stop the evil thats pretty ideaological – we have to do whats best for our country and im know expert but from what i read that is to stabilize afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban who pose a threat to our national security. To post 35, if you think the British media is unbiased... bawahahaha is all i have to say.

    March 12, 2010 at 1:34 am | Report abuse |
  41. Mark

    Right on, Marines!! You're making us proud. Be safe!!

    March 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Chad Engle

    Now this is humanity at work! Hella good job boys!

    March 11, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  43. AAW

    Our humanity is our greatest weapon against the Taliban and the extremists. They're are still people over there who need killing but ultimately this day-to-day interaction; combined with a capable Afghan government, police and military will win the day. It won't happen overnight but (if we maintain our resolve) it will happen.


    March 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  44. Fathead

    Bless their hearts. Its one of the toughest jobs to switch from Combatant to Peacemaker. I served in Iraq as a Civil Affairs NCO. You are constantly battling the negative campaigns the sh-theads are playing against you. It is good to see that in a smaller arena, such as Marjah, a more positive effect is taking place. The only bad element out my tour was getting sniped as a "thank you".

    March 11, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  45. Bigguy

    Daniel, you sound like an ill-informed kool aid drinker. Drones can't/don't carry 500# anythings. They carry smaller ait to ground missiles, usually called a Hellfire. They bring the fire of heck to the enemy on the ground, and almost always well aimed. You probably are ignorant to the fact that many so called "innocent civilians" killed in a drone attack are the enemy wearing civilian clothes, living amongst the civilain population. If the civilians choose to live with the enemy, they are providing aid and comfort, and are justifiable targets.

    March 11, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
  46. Jeff

    I am so proud of all these young men who are serving there, but especially of my own Marine who is in Marjah as I write this. As a father of a Marine and a U.S. Army soldier who is in Afghanistan as well, I can only say that this generation of U.S. Servicemen is no different than those of generations past. They have accepted that the world is a dangerous place, but that our freedom (THAT'S FREEDOM FOR ALL AMERICANS) must be preserved. That is what they are doing on a daily basis, the best way they know how. I dare say that more than a few Americans will wake up today and go about their business never stopping for a moment to think about that fact. Well done Marines, WELL DONE! God bless and keep each and every one of them.

    March 11, 2010 at 7:19 am | Report abuse |
  47. john

    good job marines keep up the good work!!!!

    March 11, 2010 at 5:36 am | Report abuse |

    Somebody once said that in politics its the small things that trip you up..thats also true in the efforts to help the Afgan people..if the marines can get the local people on their side it will make the whole effort much easier i.e if you buy stuff from them they are less inclined to shoot at you...keep up the great work really does make a difference.

    March 11, 2010 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
  49. Mark

    As a military retiree it makes me proud to read stories like this. May God bless all the American service members serving in the Afghan/Iraq regions. My hope now is that the people of the region will see America, through the efforts of those serving in the region, as a friend and assist in helping find the terrorists responsible for starting these wars.

    Semper Fi Marines.

    March 11, 2010 at 1:08 am | Report abuse |
  50. DallasMarine

    "It is great they are buying things from the locals. It would be even more encouraging if they adopted an Afghan diet, at least in part. This would show respect to the culture " The Afghans should respect our culture as well so don't get all one sided on this William. I'm sure right-wingers are going crazy that our troops are using effective communication as a weapon, not an M-16 or M203. Cheney would oppose this tactic of befriending the locals. Semper Fi devil dogs Keep up the excellent work.

    March 11, 2010 at 12:32 am | Report abuse |
  51. Johnny

    Am I the only reader missing how absurd this comment was.

    "“Can we continue to grow opium?” one of the farmers asked Russo.

    He hesitated for a moment. “Yes, you can, but we’ll try to find you alternatives to opium as soon as possible,” he replied."

    Great Rapport!

    Love the comments... Great Job... Keep up the great work....

    One Farmer asks, can we still shoot at Americans. Lt. Dan Answers Yes, sure you can put I will try to find you an alternative. How about a Soviet. Wait..... Uh.... they were smart eneough to leave Afganastan... Uh... Hmmm.... Uhhh. Uhhh.. how about .. uhhh... why did I volunteer for this....

    Is there any reason why we are actually there? And dont give me the Freedom, blah blah Opressive Regeime, blah as there are hundreds of countries that would meet the criteria for an invasion such as the pirate captial of the world: Somalia...

    March 11, 2010 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  52. WOH6

    Lots of congratualatory comments to the Marines from patriotic Americans. However patriotism does not win wars. Most of the folks here don't know the first thing about counterinsurgency, or what the hell the Marines are doing. Most of the Marines don't either.

    The real question is what the hell we are doing in Helmund Province trying to kiss the local's ass anyway? They are nothing but local readnecks with guns and have never done anything to deserve our attention. When did defeating Al Qaeda turn into rebuilding Afghanistan.

    Great strategy America. Way to go. But as long as their are ignorant Americans who sit on the sidelines cheering........

    March 10, 2010 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Melinda


    March 10, 2010 at 10:55 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Chris Perry

    What a waste of time. The troops role is to kill people not to be social workers or "diplomats".

    March 10, 2010 at 10:22 pm | Report abuse |
  55. GaryB

    Most people don't appreciate how nerve-wracking these types of outreach visits can be (you're much more exposed than you'd be in combat), but this is the way you win the peace.

    Well done Marines.

    March 10, 2010 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Mark

    Now Zad, then Nawa and now Marjah! Keep up the good work US Marines.
    Semper FI

    March 10, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  57. dsd

    To Dustin and Blue, I guess I'm just a little ahead of the hold and regulate stability phase. I know that right now our Marines are assessing what the needs of the villagers are. I'm succumbing to the darn news media who wanted to call Marjah clear, like on the second or third day. I do understand that this phase will take some time, my Marine Mom clock was just ticking a little fast that day I posted. They just made it sound, literally, like the civil, social affairs people were standing on the edge of the mat, ready to go right in. I am so very proud of our Marines there, my son included, who has a very dangerous job... Many people question why the US sent troops in, etc, etc. I only know that my son (actually both sons) are servicemen, both willing to serve their great country, no matter what. My vision is peripheral sometimes. I just want my Marine to come home whole.

    March 10, 2010 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |

    Marines make a difference everywhere they go!
    Semper Fi

    March 10, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  59. John

    Semper Fi Marines

    You make us and youfamilies proud!!!

    We wish you a safe return home when it is appropriate!

    Semper Fi!


    March 10, 2010 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  60. quick

    Great Job !! some narrow minded people don't understand it's our job as a great Nation to spread freedom and Stop the evil.God Bless our Great men and women!!

    March 10, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
  61. william scott

    The marines are beautiful! It is great they are buying things from the locals. It would be even more encouraging if they adopted an Afghan diet, at least in part. This would show respect to the culture and support the farmers.
    Also agree with above comment, let them grow opium poppies, a free people make their own choices.

    March 10, 2010 at 2:11 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Neal Haralson

    I have served in the military in Afghanistan, as well as worked as a DoS contractor in Afghanistan performing, supervising and training Bomb Squad (EOD) tasks throughout the country. What these guys in this article are doing, and all those performing like-tasks are doing, is deserving of respect and admiration. To those who have actually "been there, done that" hats off to you. To those of you who wish to armchair quarterback spewing dribble you obtain from your media of choice, you honestly have precious little cognition of the reality that is Afghanistan.

    March 10, 2010 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
  63. Jason B.

    Way to go Marines! You do us all proud. This Son of the American Legion salutes you!

    March 10, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Sean Mills

    no great power in history behaves like this
    we should all be very proud of our military and their ability to go from warrior to friend.

    March 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  65. DragonAss

    Sounds like The Tali-Brady Bunch. It's all about Marjah, Marjah, Marjah!!!

    March 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  66. desertwolf

    check out the British media, it has much more unbiased reporting

    March 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  67. Jennifer St. Onge

    Way to go...that's MY HUSBAND!! I couldn't be more proud of him...Thank you Marines!

    March 10, 2010 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  68. alex

    all I can say is thank you Marines. 🙂

    March 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm | Report abuse |
  69. Patterson

    I am proud of the job my brothers are doing in country, but as a marine, I don't think it's appropriate for the news agency to give the location of a base in a warzone and it's security state. It could be detramental to the marines there, please, in future, think about our welfare before you broadcast these things on the internet.

    Semper Fidelis

    March 10, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  70. Sean

    Interesting – CNN censored my response to Daniel's ignorance. I wonder why ...

    March 10, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  71. Blue

    The Marines are the front line, beginning to move into stability operations that will be supported by governmental and non-governmental actors from both the US and Afghanistan. Stabiliity operations take a bit of time. The information about what the villagers say they need will be gathered and and trends analyzed. Programs will be developed and prioritized, then implemented and the effects upon stability assessed.

    No one waves a magic wand and *POOF* there is stability. It is a process and it takes a bit of time. Marjah may turn out to be a best-practice example of how the District Stability Framework can be applied by combined civil and military/security actors in an Afghan district.

    We'll be watching.

    March 10, 2010 at 3:05 am | Report abuse |
  72. DustinBK

    Curious K, there is no "proper" spelling for Marjah. All of the names here are spelled phonetically as the locals would say them (or the closest approximation that English will allow). As for everyone who has negative things to say, does anyone else notice that they have difficulty putting together a coherent sentence? Sounds to me like a native Dari, Farsi, or Pashtun speaker is trying to pretend to be a dissatisfied American (JC and Syl)...a common trick used by the TB and AQ to show that we have people who do not agree with the war and are therefor going to be leaving soon. Finally, dsd, there are three phases to operations like this...Clear –> Hold –> Build...They are currently holding until security can be guaranteed for civilians to enter and do their jobs. Come on people, listen to the entire story and not just what you want to hear!

    March 10, 2010 at 3:03 am | Report abuse |
  73. Daniel

    For Lou Gomez,how about telling that to the people living there?

    March 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  74. curious K

    is it Mar-d-jah or Marjah? what's up with the d pronunciation, sounds funny

    March 9, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Kate

    who said we are not #1..? we don't go out there just to kick butt ya know!

    March 9, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  76. dsd

    I'm a little confused, where is the "Government-in-a-box" I kept hearing Gen. McCrystal talk about. He stated that they were "just waiting on the sidelines, ready to go as soon as Marjah was secured." I haven't heard of any influx of gov. aid beginning the "build phase of Operation Moshtarak. And just so you know, I have a Marine son over there since the beginning of this operation.

    March 9, 2010 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Lou Gomez

    Why do we have morons on this blog spewing all sorts of ignorant nonsense – just read those comments from Syl and Daniel ! Dudes – you should read more! Drones use Hellfire laser guided missiles -They dont drop 500lb bombs! And were getting these guys to stop planting poppy...we're burning em... Maybe we should drop you both from a B-52 and see if you learn to fly before you hit the ground...

    March 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  78. Daniel

    The right-wing media must feel quite pleased upon seeing all this input.

    March 9, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  79. T

    Excellent Job to the brave troops on the ground. Stay safe and keep helping the innocent people. Tell the people we wish them a good life.

    Your familes miss you and love you. Stay strong and come home soon.

    Thank you for your service.

    From a Army mom of 2 deployed soldiers

    March 9, 2010 at 8:50 am | Report abuse |
  80. Matt Fink

    Another great example of our Armed Forces at work!

    March 9, 2010 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
  81. Ryan

    Semper Fi Marines. We are very thankful for all you do!

    March 9, 2010 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  82. Syl

    I understand that war criminals from usa gained full control over opium production and now Afghan villagers must saw poppy especiallyfor ussa.
    It is really pathetic crime against humanity. Hopefully you, ussmen will drug to death for a some time.

    March 9, 2010 at 7:30 am | Report abuse |
  83. A. Smith, Oregon

    Its good to see the Marines getting some face time with the Marjah locals. Perhaps the locals will relay to the Marines the background of the cut-throat diplomat that spent many years in a German prison for stabbing his own son, that they are now forcing upon them to be their new Governor!!!

    Imagine forcing that brutal man upon the people of Marjah to depend on for their safety after the NATO soldiers leave.

    At least after meeting some of the locals in Marjah, the NATO soldiers will be less inclined to call in Airstrikes on the caravans of civilians returning to their homes in Marjah.

    March 9, 2010 at 3:59 am | Report abuse |
  84. Bruce

    Nobody is saying we're not going to have any more casualties but at least we're seeing something that is at least encouraging. If our troops can do some positive things then good for them, good for us.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  85. AkintayoNG

    Great job well done.By now the Afghans would soon realise that there's no gain in violence.An average Afghan had known no peace in there life time.It's time they rise up and say no to fake doctrines been fed with by their agrieved leaders.Bravo to you guys there,you are really doing a good job.

    March 9, 2010 at 2:08 am | Report abuse |
  86. James

    Good Job!

    March 8, 2010 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  87. andrew lubin

    Sorry to disappoint you, Gary, but there've been no KIA's for a week.

    March 8, 2010 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  88. jeannie

    i know Lt russo and i'm glad that changes are finally shining through you go george!!! we all miss you

    March 8, 2010 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Venkat Rangachari

    Hopefully this encourages some of the village kids and youths to join ANA. Although corrupt and inefficient, it needs youths from Pasthun areas.

    March 8, 2010 at 9:26 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Joanne Giambruno

    Bravo to our brave Marine peace makers and relationship makers. You are truly making us proud to be Americans. Thank you, thank you, thank you! God bless!

    March 8, 2010 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  91. Mad JOe

    Well its good to see stories come out of Afghanistan like this. This goes to show the world that we are nto out there just to kill people. We are there to help the people get rid of the Taliban and improve their country. But the bad thing about this is how long can we sustain this type of building-up ......God help us.

    March 8, 2010 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  92. JC

    “Can we continue to grow opium?” one of the farmers asked
    “Yes, you can, but we’ll try to find you alternatives to opium as soon as possible,” Russo replied.

    Above is the pretty of this dialogue. And this guaranteed this A/F war under the Obama's administation finally on the right track. My vote goes to the right candidate on 2008 election.

    Field battle or war never build a country – but a field dialogue will!

    Grows opium poppy, same as tobaco leaf.. or all kinds of farm filed grains to become of wine. Do we put smokers or drunkers into jails...

    Free to people to grow all palnts if they want.
    JC- Viet era

    March 8, 2010 at 8:19 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Mike in KC

    Thank you for your service Marines and all US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan!!!

    March 8, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  94. Gary

    The fighting has stopped? really? huh..go tell that to the families that continue to lose their loved ones. Yes, even in Marjah.

    March 8, 2010 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |

    Great job. Glad to see that we are no longer willing to let the extremist win hearts and minds. Military force by itself cannot guarantee long-term security.

    March 8, 2010 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Rob H.

    Well done! You make us proud to be American!
    We need to do more the Afgans like building schools, electricity, etc etc.
    Great story!

    March 8, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  97. Daniel

    From now on,we're going to hear all about these guys as their exploits wll be belly-hooed to the end.But I just hope that they don't start belly-gooing those creeps who operate those ungodly drone airplanes with their 500lb.bombs spewing death and destruction all over the place.

    March 8, 2010 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  98. Michael Holehan

    Goog Job Marines !!

    March 8, 2010 at 6:42 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Mike

    Well done Marines, gettin stuff done like we always do.

    Semper Fi.

    March 8, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  100. andrew lubin

    And that's how you conduct counterinsrugency tactics Ben, you get out with the locals – talk to them – see what they need vs. what they want, and then talk with them some more.

    What you don't seem to know yet is that the ANA is the ONLY Afghan government group that commands the respect of the people; their presence (along with the Marines) gives the people the confidence to re-open their schools, re-open the markets, grow crops other than poppy...and that's how the town and area improves.

    Well done Marines! S/F

    March 8, 2010 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |