KUNAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan --
U.S. military and Afghan government officials saw Afghan National Army soldiers make a strong presence in Naray district today while providing humanitarian and medical assistance to hundreds of villagers and Gojers (a semi-nomadic Afghan tribe) in Anchagal village.
Embedded training team Marines provided security and mentoring from behind the scenes while soldiers from the 3rd Kandak (Armored), 3rd Brigade, 201st ANA Corps, distributed food and clothes. U.S. Navy and Army medical personnel also provided care and medicines for about 200 villagers and Gojers.
The humanitarian assistance visit was the result of the Kunar provincial governor’s request to Afghanistan parliamentarians for assistance. Gulhar Jalal, parliamentary representative for Kunar Province, and Hugi Gul Zaman, subgovernor of Naray District, were both present for the ANA’s visit.
Jalal said she had been a part of a recent jirga (meeting of elders) when she heard that insurgents were threatening Gojers and forcing them to leave Nurestan Province, pushing them into Kunar Province.
“When I arrived here and saw the conditions and the Gojers, I saw it was a really bad situation,” Jalal said. Since her arrival to the province, however, she has seen positive responses from Afghans toward the government and the ANA.
The ANA has supported Afghan government officials in other humanitarian assistance visits to additional villages over the last several days. This is the first humanitarian assistance visit this week that included U.S. presence and medical assistance.
It was no accident that the U.S. presence was low profile.
“It’s better that the ANA do it their way than us telling them how to do it.” said Marine Lt. Col. James F. Werth, ETT 7-2 officer in charge.
The ANA’s coordination and lead in the humanitarian assistance visit was well received.
“All the enemies are kept out,” said Zaman. “I think it is best. It showed all the people that (the ANA) are with you, all the time.
“The villagers are really happy,” Zaman added. “I think, for the people, this is one way to see a show of forces.”
Jalal echoed Zaman, saying she also noticed the ANA relationship with the villagers and Gojers was very positive.
The ETT Marines primarily provided perimeter security during the village visit. Soldiers from the 1st Squadron, 91st Airborne Cavalry, assisted in perimeter security as well.
The ANA are “the front lines, and we were just there to help,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Reynaldo S. Datu, a 42-year-old hospital corpsman assigned to ETT 7-2.
Datu assisted the ANA doctor and medics, as did Army Capt. Scott Harrington, a family practice doctor, and Spc. Melissa A. Hoffman, an Army medic. Both are from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Support Battalion out of Germany, and work from Forward Operating Base Naray.
“I am very much pleased with how it went today.” Datu said as the visit wrapped up. “It is pleasing to see the ANA personnel taking care of the indigenous people.”