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The visit was led by the 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, United States Marine Corps (USMC), but also comprised RAF Police and RAF Regiment…
The visit was led by the 3rd Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, United States Marine Corps (USMC), but also comprised RAF Police and RAF Regiment personnel and elements of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Danish medical personnel.
Members of 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, normally based at RAF Honington, provided the inner security cordon for the event whilst the United States Marine Corps provided the outer cordon.
The ANA also provided a medic and search capability under the mentorship of the Danish Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team.
Female RAF Police personnel were used to supplement the Female Engagement Team (FET) that aims to engage direct with local female nationals.
Having previously engaged with local elders at a shura, permission was granted by the elders to enter the compounds and treat women and children.
A United States Marine Corps doctor accompanied the FET and treated 13 females, two males and 23 children within their compounds.
The male engagement was also highly successful, with 33 males and ten children being treated. A key aspect of the village medical outreach programme is providing direct medical aid to the local population.
Flight Lieutenant Steve Carroll met with local elders and chatted through some of the problems facing them. He said:
These types of outreach programmes are crucial in gaining the trust and respect of the local population. The key to success is undertaking them on their terms and we work hard to improve our relationship with them.
“Whilst we talked to them about security in their area as well as health and hygiene, we even found time to talk about the World Cup!”
Medication was provided and ancillary items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste were given out. In addition, training in preventative medicine and hygiene was also provided whilst the local nationals waited to be seen by the doctor.
Corporals Faye Stinton and Becky Lockhead of the Tactical Provost Wing, RAF Henlow, are relatively new arrivals to Bastion and normally work at the main entry point. This was their first trip into the local community and they were both slightly nervous prior to ‘travelling outside the wire’.
Corporal Stinton said:
Our role was to escort and search women and children before they saw the medical staff. The children certainly were characters and it was great to meet the local nationals.
Corporal Lockhead added:
Ultimately we are here to support the local population, and to meet them today and provide medical attention was very rewarding work.
The reality of the life of the people here is very different to what I was expecting; they were courteous, friendly and glad to receive the medical support that was offered.
I found the conversations [through the interpreter] amazing but I hope that one young boy was joking when he gave me the chance to be one of his future wives!
Building on the success of the day, Flight Lieutenant Carroll and his RAF Regiment and RAF Police colleagues will be participating in similar ventures in other parts of the local community soon.
He said the event truly highlighted the ISAF partnership:
The outreach programme requires co-operation and partnership from numerous organisations.
“This operation was led by the USMC; however, Afghan National Army, Danish and Royal Air Force personnel were vital to achieving the results on the day and highlights the true international approach to supporting the local population.”