Story by Lance Cpl. Daniel Wulz
FORWARD OPERATING BASE MARJAH, Afghanistan – New methods of learning and teaching Afghans essential skills, to build businesses and stimulate their economy, are slated to arrive in Marjah within the next two months.
Marines from Company K, 3rd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, in conjunction with the 3/9 civil affairs group, are currently working to turn empty bazaar areas into new vocational technical schools.
These schools are the innovation of 3/9 Marines that began in December 2010, and will provide courses such as masonry, carpentry, automobile mechanics, motorcycle mechanics and construction to further the skillsets of Afghan citizens.
“Eventually the security situation here is going to get better,” said 1st Lt. Jason B. Hibler, the weapons platoon commander, Company K, 3/9, and a native of Joliet, Ill. “We’ve already opened up four little shops for vo-tech courses, and we’ve currently got Marines asking and looking around for potential teachers.”
Marines with 3/9 have been conducting vocational technical courses aboard Forward Operating Base Marjah for locals, Afghan National Army soldiers and Afghan Uniformed Police since shortly after their arrival to Afghanistan, December 2010.
“The idea is to bring in more technical jobs for the Afghans,” said 1st Lt. Dirk J. Erickson, the civil affairs assistant team leader, 3/9.
The goal for the Marine Corps is sustainability, said Erickson, of Seattle.
“There are more than 1,200 Afghan police in Marjah right now and we’re trying to get more,” he said. “If the dynamic ever changes and there is less warfare and need for police, they can have these skills and classes to turn to in order to make a business that will thrive.”
ANA and AUP troops are taking their lessons one at a time and slowly gaining more independence from coalition forces. The vocational technical classes are scheduled to begin within the next two months, following the construction and renovation of buildings to hold them in.