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Press Release | July 3, 2009

Marines engage local leaders in Helmand province

By None , Marine Expeditionary Brigade - Afghanistan

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (July 3, 2009) — U.S. Marines and Afghan soldiers and police are continuing clearing operations in key population centers along the Helmand River valley in an effort to secure the local population from the threat of Taliban and other insurgent intimidation and violence.   

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan (July 3, 2009) — Almost 4,000 Marines and sailors from Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan, along with more than 600 Afghan national security forces, are currently operating in the districts of Nawa and Garmsir in central Helmand province. MEB forces are operating as far south as the vicinity of Khan Neshin, the capital of Rig district in the region of the Helmand River valley known as "The Fishhook."

The Marines and Afghan forces are continuing to patrol and have begun engaging with key leaders in the districts in order to better understand the concerns and needs of Afghans in the area. Once security is established, civil affairs personnel and other non-governmental organizations and agencies will begin establishing programs aimed at building long-term governance and development throughout the Helmand River valley.    

One Marine has been killed in action, and several others have been injured or wounded since the operation began. Yesterday, south of Garmsir, one Afghan man began to approach a group of Marines and was warned to stop. He did not stop, despite a series of warning indicators being employed. The man continued to walk toward the Marines at a rapid pace without saying anything to them. A warning shot was fired, and when he still did not stop, a Marine fired a single shot, wounding the man. U.S. Navy corpsmen immediately treated the man, and he was evacuated by MEB forces to Bost hospital in the provincial capital of Lashkar Gah, where he is in stable condition.   

MEB-Afghanistan is a subordinate unit of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. The combined U.S. and Afghan mission is to provide security for population centers along the Helmand River valley and connect local citizens with their legitimate government while establishing stable and secure conditions for national elections scheduled for August as well as enhanced security for the future.