Marines and sailors with 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, are working hard to train Afghan soldiers in eastern Afghanistan, said the battalion’s commander in an e-mail Wednesday to Stars and Stripes.

As Embedded Training Team 6-2, “we live alongside an infantry battalion of the Afghan National Army,” said Lt. Col. Curt Williamson. “Our job is to train and coach them to the point where they can operate independently.”

Williamson said his troops, working with Afghans of the 3d Kandak, 1st Brigade, 201st Corps, have conducted combat patrols, delivered humanitarian assistance supplies and provided medical visits throughout the Konar and Nuristan provinces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Conditions his Marines have seen in Afghanistan are a far cry from home, he said.

In his e-mail, he described Afghan schools in the Konar and Nuristan provinces as “open-air — in other words, nothing.”

But 3rd Battalion is trying to make a difference in these children’s lives.

“We are now working on providing them tents for the coming winter so that schools will not have to close,” he said.

“An education means a possible escape to an urban area like Kabul where one can finally escape the dust and filth of the desolate hinterlands,” he added.

“The needs are more than our nation and the international forces can provide,” Williamson said. “If you ask the average Afghan what he wants for development … security, medical clinics, schools, electricity, mosques and roads.”

Williamson described the Marines’ efforts in Afghanistan as “a challenging and often frustrating job.”

But it’s a job that “brings a deep sense of satisfaction when you consider the growth and development our efforts produce in the Afghan National Army,” he said. And his Marines and sailors “have surpassed my every expectation for this deployment.”

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