Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Sgt Colin Pentith RLC - Fire Support Company 1 Royal Welsh

Sgt Pentith greets a local elder

We had been on the ground for 3 days and, so far, everything was going very smoothly. The boys were into a good routine and the locals had started to actively engage with us throughout the area. The challenge for me now was to lead a Shurah at a check point established by the Afghan Army and Fire Support Company, 1 R Welsh East of Garbay Noray.

This was to be my first Shurah. A far cry from my usual job as a Royal Logistics Corps Chef! The transition from hotplate to hot stabilization really began last year when I got selected to work with 1 Royal Welsh as part of it’s non-combat role in what we call ‘influence’. Effectively it is working with other non military organizations and the locals to make progress through communication, information and initiating local projects.

The elders I met treated me with respect and what struck me from the meeting we held was that the concerns of the locals are just what you would expect anywhere. They are concerned about security first and then basic welfare – schools, hospitals, power and so on. It is up to us to reassure them that we and the Afghan National Security Services will deliver that. This was also the start of our process of getting to know who is who in the local area so that we can identify the key leaders that will make things happen.

Afterwards, as part of the stabilisation process, we distributed blankets and radios together with footballs and pens for the children. They genuinely seemed happy and there were lots of smiling faces so I think it went well. It made me feel good that, having come into their area as ‘foreign’ soldier, I could make a small but positive difference straight away.

1 comment:

  1. Great to hear positive news coming out of Marjah. I think you guys are doing a fantastic job. I know the idea of "courageous restraint" must be hard to follow when you are being sniped at, but if you can make a difference for the better for people on the ground with the minimum of casualties on both sides it will be for the better. I get the feeling that the war is moving to a political rather than military strategy. We just have to hope that the elected Government of Afghanistan has its people's rather than its own interests at heart.