I had the chance to meet Jim Hake of Spirit of America last Friday in DC. They have been doing tremendous work supporting our troops with items that help them accomplish their missions, largely in Iraq. Now they are making a civilian surge into Afghanistan and I think that is tremendous. There is an excellent feature piece on them and the work they have done with the USMC in Leatherneck that you may read here.
This Spirit of America is more than a great feeling; it is one of our country's most unique and innovative nonprofit organizations. For six years Spirit of America has supported the Marines' outreach efforts by providing supplies for them to give to local residents-items the Marines have identified as most needed and beneficial-everything from tools and textbooks, to sewing machines and irrigation equipment. These grassroots initiatives are an essential part of the counterinsurgency doctrine developed by Generals David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army and James N. Mattis, USMC.
Spirit of America (SoA) helps the Marines build better relations with locals. Better relations that support the success of their mission and make them safer. Or as Marine Staff Sergeant Shawn Delgado puts it: "It is easy to forget that the vast majority of the people are not hostile to us. Spirit of America allows us the tools to be able to approach them on a personal level and to connect with them outside of a hostile encounter." And, reducing hostility helps save Marines' lives.
This focus on asking the troops what would help them accomplish their missions is effective and they are now aiming at Afghanistan and what they can do to bring stuff into country that will help us connect with the local populace. It is worth taking some time to explore their site and see how they are helping.