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The Marines of 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), conducted road improvement operations in Sangin, Afghanistan, Nov. 9, to provide a smoother and safer means of transportation for both coalition forces and local Afghans.

Photo by LCpl. Kenneth Jasik

Marine engineers inhibit IED placement through road improvments

9 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Kenneth Jasik

Marines from 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), completed improvements to a stretch of road in the city of Sangin, Helmand province, Afghanistan, Nov. 9.

"Our main mission here was to rebuild the roads and and make it trafficable for local nationals and coalition forces," said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Matthew D. Lovely, the platoon commander for Heavy Equipment Platoon, Alpha Company, 9th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD).

"It’s going to allow coalition forces to move more freely around the [area of operations]," said Capt. Ryan P. Bumgardner, the security team leader, 9th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD). "It’s going to allow civilians to do the same, so it’s benefiting us and them at the same time."

This type of road improvement not only makes it easier to travel through Sangin, but it also makes it more difficult for Taliban to place improvised explosive devices because packed gravel is hard to penetrate with a shovel.

"Trying to place an IED in the packed gravel takes much longer for terrorists to dig than it does in loose dirt," said Lovely.

Before the work began, the road was in dire need of repairs.

"The road was so high-centered and rutted that when many of the locals drove their cars down it the exhaust systems and under carriages of their cars would be ripped off," said Lovely, 36, from Rome, N.Y. "A lot of the road was covered in eight to 18 inches of moon dust. They were almost like half-pipes because they were so rutted from traffic driving in a single lane so long."

The process required a lot of heavy machinery to be used in smoothing out the road. The Marines worked at night, using only the headlights of their vehicles to see.

"We compacted the soil," said Lovely. "We hydrated it, we compacted it again, then we brought in gravel and used it to make solid, gravel-dirt roads."

The Marines were not limited to improving roads on their mission. While in Sangin, they demolished a wall adjacent to the road at the request of an elder who lived in the area.

This is just one of many road improvement projects the engineers have planned throughout Helmand province to support coalition forces and local Afghans.

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