American Forces Press Service
June 24, 2008 - U.S. Marines and British forces of Task Force Helmand opened a joint civil-military operations center yesterday near the British Forward Operating Base Delhi in the Garmsir district here. On its first day, the CMOC had 31 visitors and paid 15 claims.
The Marines established the CMOC and provided the initial administration, command and control to run it, and will continue to maintain the secure environment in which the center will operate, officials said. Their focus will be battle damage reparations and coordinating with those follow-on agencies to continue the work of reconstruction and development.
Task Force Helmand will focus on building an enduring capability to support stabilization, reconstruction and development, officials said.
The British forces have assigned a stabilization advisor to Garmsir. He will work with the local government, military and support agencies to assist and coordinate reconstruction and development efforts as they apply to governance, law, security and the economy. The Afghan government has assigned a representative from the Ministry of Reconstruction and Rural Development.
Local Afghans will be hired for administration and support roles in the CMOC. Other governmental and nongovernmental agencies will come online, officials said, as needs arise and capabilities become available.
"We need to have a measured approach to the influx of supporting agencies," said Marine Corps Col. Peter Petronzio, commanding officer, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, NATO International Security Assistance Force. "If we aren't careful, we will do more than can be sustained upon our departure. Our guiding principle needs to be the needs and desires of the people of Garmsir."
The ultimate purpose, aside from assisting the Afghan citizens, is to make the eventual departure of the Marines as transparent as possible to the local community, said Marine Corps Chief Warrant Officer 2 Rene Cote, 24th MEU civil affairs officer. "Our approach is to work with alliance partners and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to build capacity in a manner that is sustainable after the eventual departure of Marine forces," he said.
Marines are here to secure routes through the district to enable the extension of the Afghan government, working in support of ISAF.
(From a 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit news release.)