Thursday, January 8, 2009

Spirit of America’s generous support aids Marines, Afghan forces in counterinsurgency operations

Story by Lance Cpl. Brian D. Jones

HELMAND PROVINCE, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – Spirit of America, a nonprofit organization supported solely by private contributions, is offering their generosity to Marines and Afghan National Security Forces in their fight against the ongoing insurgency in the Helmand and Farah provinces of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Spirit of America has arranged to spend a start-up amount of $50,000 of its collected donations toward the purchase of supplies and equipment to be shipped to and distributed by 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment (Reinforced), to Afghan National Security Forces and the local populace. Plans for the procurement of an additional $500,000 of much-needed medical supplies are also underway.

As the ground combat element of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force – Afghanistan, Marines with 3/8 train, mentor and partner with Afghan National Security Forces as they work to provide a secure environment for the Afghan people.

“Spirit of America contacted us,” said Maj. Brian T. Mulvihill, the executive officer of 3/8. “They described what they did in Iraq and offered us the same support. We gladly accepted, as the benefits critically enhance our and the Afghan National Security Forces’ mission capabilities in this counterinsurgency environment.”

With the help of Spirit of America, 3/8 is able to provide the Afghan National Security Forces with equipment, in addition to mentorship, to help the Afghans secure and defend their country.

“The supplies will be given to the local governments of the different district centers in which we operate,” Mulvihill said. “In turn, with security and oversight from us, those supplies will be distributed to those most in need. This will enable the local government and security forces to take a bigger role in providing for their own people.”

The first shipment to 3/8, expected in March, includes an assortment of desired supplies, such as ballistic eye protection, hygiene kits, military-use first aid kits, personal hydration systems and water purification tablets. The second shipment of $500,000-worth of much-needed medical supplies will help sustain local Afghan medical clinics, which are in dire need of the supplies.

The donations will be used to legitimize the local Afghan leadership and greatly increase 3/8’s success in its counterinsurgency mission.
Alliance forces continually stress that Afghan leadership is the key to success in Afghanistan, and America’s donations will reinforce security gains with positive improvements for the local populace.

Success in Afghanistan requires the host nation to defeat insurgents or render them irrelevant, uphold the rule of law, and provide a basic level of essential services and security for the populace. The key to all these tasks is developing an effective Afghan National Security Force.

“The key to winning a counterinsurgency fight is to create stability for the local populace,” said Mulvihill. “The way the enemy wins is by destabilizing local government, or by creating the appearance that they are the ones that can provide the necessary security. These supplies will allow us to help legitimize the local government and security forces in the eyes of the people.”

“We are excited to work with 3/8 on this outreach effort to benefit the Afghan people,” said Michele Redmond, the program director of Spirit of America. “Spirit of America was founded as a means to channel the incredible generosity of the American people to help U.S. troops fighting the war on terror. Spirit of America has always supported requests to aid the Afghan people, but earlier this year we recognized the increased significance of success in Afghanistan and the vital contribution that winning the hearts and minds of the Afghan people could play in that success.”

Spirit of America was born out of the tragedy of Sept. 11, 2001. With possible future troop level increases in Afghanistan, the American public is focused on the challenges in the region.

“As always, Spirit of America stands ready to help our troops in Afghanistan as they do everything within their power to stabilize the area, build positive relationships with the various populations and plant the seeds of freedom for all,” said Dennis Norris, the executive director of Spirit of America. “Spirit of America supporters will take this project under their collective wings, as they have done with all of our projects, and see to its eventual success. Together they will fund an effort that yields positive results for both the Afghan people and the (troops) involved in the project’s implementation.”

Visit Spirit of America’s Web site at: for information on its support to military operations around the world. Also, visit Spirit of America’s 3/8 project page at:
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