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U.S. Navy, Marine Corps Civil Affairs Teams Display Solidarity during Mission

Navy News Service

Story Number: NNS121028-03

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Derek R. Sanchez, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/5th Fleet Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Navy and Marine Corps civil affairs teams joined forces for the first time while conducting a humanitarian assistance mission in Budaiya and Isa Town, Bahrain, Oct. 18-19.

Sailors from Commander, Task Group (CTG) 56.9, Maritime Civil Affairs Team (MCAT) 105, and Marines from Marine Corps Forces Central Command (MARCENT) Forward Civil Affairs showed strength in joint capability by donating and delivering 150 new beds to local migrant workers.

"We both want to conduct positive social exchanges with our hosts in the region to strengthen friendships and promote mutual understanding," said Lt. Ronald Kolpak, MCAT 105 officer in charge. "We have built a working relationship between our two teams and have been looking for more opportunities to collaborate. The Marine Corps team was a joy to work with and without their mattresses, this operation could not have happened."

MCAT 105 initially received the call from MARCENT Forward Civil Affairs that there were hundreds of beds available for donation. In less then 24 hours, both teams developed a mission to help people sleep better at night.

"Civil military operations have a history of being a major enabler across a range of military operations. I have seen it from a counter-insurgency environment in Iraq and Afghanistan to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief in Haiti. I have always been amazed at the civilians who operate in international organizations like the United Nations and non-governmental organizations (NGO) like Helping Hands who give their lives to assisting others in their hour of need," said Maj. Rebecca Popielski, MARCENT Forward Civil Affairs officer in charge. "It is my pleasure to be able to help those types of organizations out any time we can. Plus working with the CTG 56.9 team is always a pleasure."

The civil affairs teams contacted Helping Hands, an NGO, that knew of facilities housing local migrant workers and were happy to aid in the mission.

"By day I am an everyday housewife," said Gita Krishnan, director, Helping Hands. "I use Helping Hands to give back to the community."

Local migrant workers come to Bahrain with little household or personal belongings. They live in working communities in hopes to better support their families in their home country.

"It's nice to have a new bed, I am really happy," one migrant worker said. "We send about half of our money back home and live here on the other half. It is hard, and we're thankful for these gifts."

The positive reaction from the community gives these Sailors and Marines the charitable fuel to keep going.

"Everything went very smooth," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Corey Walker, MCAT 105 mission leader. "Doing this work makes me feel like I have truly helped these people."

MCAT 105 is deployed with CTG 56.1, which provides maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

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