Once Marine units arrive in their designated towns and villages, they have been instructed to build and live in small outposts among the local population. The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban, and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents...
Despite commitments from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that they would send additional personnel to help the new forces in southern Afghanistan with reconstruction and governance development, State has added only two officers in Helmand since the Marines arrived. State has promised to have a dozen more diplomats and reconstruction experts working with the Marines, but only by the end of the summer.
To compensate in the interim, the Marines are deploying what officers here say is the largest-ever military civilian-affairs contingent attached to a combat brigade -- about 50 Marines, mostly reservists, with experience in local government, business management and law enforcement. Instead of flooding their area of operations with cash, as some units did in Iraq, the Marine civil affairs commander, Lt. Col. Curtis Lee, said he intends to focus his resources on improving local government.
Once basic governance structures are restored, civilian reconstruction personnel plan to focus on economic development programs, including programs to help Afghans grow legal crops in the area.
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