How Radios Make US Marines and Afghans Safer
"Bottom line, Spirit of America's support is helping keep (and make) Garmsir District safe for US Marines … and most of all the people of Afghanistan."
-- A Marine Officer in Afghanistan re: radios donated by Spirit of America
We all know that communications technology has had a huge impact here in the US. It turns out that it also has a huge impact in rural Afghanistan. To help our troops improve conditions and make progress, Spirit of America has provided two different kinds of radios.
If you read the emails from Marines below, you'll see how your support improves the safety of our troops and helps bring security and normalcy to the Afghan people.
Two-Way Radios for Afghan Soldiers and Police
When we learned that Afghan security forces were having difficulties communicating in rural areas of Helmand Province, Spirit of America provided two-way radios.
Here's an email from a Marine in charge of mentoring the Afghan Border Police in the Garmsir. It's a long email but provides great insight into the real-world impact of your support.
-- Begin email -- "The Afghan Border Police (ABP) are arguably the least trained, most under resourced national security force in Afghanistan. Yet here in Garmsir District, Helmand Province, two companies, roughly 160 soldiers, independently man 5 security checkpoints - 3 of them in an area with little coalition presence - and provide security to an area that spans 45 square kilometers. Despite their gross lack of nearly everything a military unit requires for success, the ABP in Garmsir continue to accomplish their mission. In the past five months there has been only one IED event in their area, and that roadside bomb was identified and reported to the ABP by a local villager - a positive sign that the local populace is on the side of the government."
"Of all its shortfalls in equipment, none is greater than their lack of communications equipment. When we arrived in Garmsir, the ABP had virtually no way to communicate to each of its six checkpoints from its headquarters. All communication was done face to face — requiring subordinate leaders to drive several kilometers to the headquarters to pass information — a technique impossible to use when under attack and requesting reinforcements."
"Over the past few months, there have been several signs of progress. In August, the Afghan Ministry of Interior issued the ABP several high frequency radios—one for each of its posts. While these radios gave them the ability to communicate post to post, they still were unable to communicate with the dozens of mounted (in vehicles) and dismounted (on foot) patrols that they send out every day to provide security for the local area."
"The Motorola radios provided by Spirit of America have filled that need! While not a long term solution (that has to be provided by the government of Afghanistan), the radios provided by Spirit of America allow ABP patrols to communicate with other patrols, and their checkpoints, to request support as needed. Just as importantly though, these radios give the ABP the confidence to patrol further and further away from their checkpoints because they are confident that if reinforcements are necessary they have the means to request them. Their increased confidence translates to increased patrols and heightened security for the people of Garmsir. That does not happen (at least not in the near term) without Spirit of America's support! Bottom line, Spirit of America's support is helping keep (and make) Garmsir District safe—for US Marines, the ABP, and most of all the people of Afghanistan." -- end email --
How to Help
When Afghan Soldiers are more effective, our troops are safer and ultimately come home sooner. $47 buys a pair of two-way radios. You can provide radios needed in Garmsir and elsewhere here.
Solar Radios Help in Remote Areas
Many American Soldiers and Marines serve in remote areas of Afghanistan. Villagers in those areas don't have electricity or access to outside information. Fear and ignorance are key tools of the Taliban and, with little alternative information, villagers are susceptible to Taliban propaganda.
To help our troops open Afghan villages to ideas and information (and music!) Spirit of America has provided thousands of solar- and hand crank-powered radios. Here is one of them being given to a villager.
One Marine wrote to us, "The radios that the Marines have been passing out have had a huge impact for us here in Garmsir. We have local national linguists disc jockeys reporting the news and other events going on in the local area. The DJs also read thousands of letters that they received monthly from the local people who listen to our live shows. We never expected this kind of success from our local radio station."
"DJ Andy is the voice of Radio Garmsir, the most popular radio station in the Garmsir District. His competitors are the BBC and Voice of America. Some months, he has received upwards of 5000 fan letters and several elaborately embroidered love letters that he can only blush at. Garmsir itself has a population with only a five percent literacy rate, so that five percent must be busy writing. Love letters aside, Andy's days are very busy. He records news broadcasts for two other radio stations, runs 4 hours of live shows and creates radio broadcast in support of the Marines, the government, USAID and Afghan Security Forces. Andy's voice carries our message into the regular homes of the people, into the ears of the women and is the most democratic means of communicating with the population."
How to Help
These radios help our Marines in the "battle of ideas" and they bring some normalcy to Afghan villages - getting music to people who have been denied it for so long. One solar-powered radio costs $18. You can contribute here
Thank you for your support.
Jim Hake and the Spirit of America team