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Sgt. David C. Gentry, 25, combat engineer, Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) monitors the progress of a bridge construction project in Marjah, Afghanistan, Dec. 3. Combat engineers with CLB-3 constructed a bridge and guard post in support of Marine units operating in the area.

Photo by Cpl. Daniel H. Woodall

CLB-3 engineers improve transportation, security in Marjah

8 Dec 2010 | Cpl. Daniel Woodall

Combat engineers with Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), completed several projects in direct support of Marine units in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Dec. 3-8.

The Marines spent the first three days constructing a bridge and observation post for two units currently operating in Marjah, Afghanistan – 2nd Battalion, 6th Marines and 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, both with 1st Marine Division (Forward).

According to Staff Sgt. Madalin L. Petre, platoon sergeant, 2nd Platoon, Engineer Company, CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD), constructing the bridge primarily serves to accomplish a military objective. The bridge’s location provides a tactical advantage for military units operating in the former Taliban stronghold of Marjah.

The bridge and observation post are located near a road dubbed “IED alley” due to the amount of improvised explosive devices that coalition and Afghan forces have discovered along the route.

The engineers hope the bridge will facilitate transportation for military personnel and vehicles using a nearby intersection, while the observation post will provide 2/6 and 2/9 with much-needed surveillance of the area.

“[Prior to the bridge’s construction], the only available crossings were more than a mile from each side of the area,” said Petre, a native of Lakewood, Ohio. “The observation post was constructed to control the IED threat – it will help [2/6 and 2/9] keep eyes on the route.”

From a civilian standpoint, both projects in Marjah also benefit the Afghan community. According to 1st Lt. Elizabeth Stroud, 25, engineer platoon commander, Engineer Company, CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD), enhancing the area’s security will limit violence and boost the local economy.

“The surrounding compounds [near the bridge] were the site of a flourishing bazaar that once was,” said Stroud, a native of Hutto, Texas. “There’s still some fear in Marjah and the local [Marjah citizens] I spoke to said they were thrilled to be able to access the area. The freedom of moment that both the bridge and observation post provide will have a huge impact.”

“This bridge benefits us all,” said Sharif, a 24-year-old resident of Marjah, through an interpreter. “This bridge allows us to cross [over the water] in a busy area and it connects two neighborhoods. We’ll use it for vehicles, animals, people – we appreciate it. It may not be that big, but it’s effective.”

After the bridge and observation post were complete, the combat engineers transitioned to Patrol Base Poole – south of Marjah – to support the Marines and sailors of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.

While at PB Poole, the combat engineers modified a large portion of unoccupied terrain to increase living spaces and fortified a bridge they had constructed in October.

Though one mission comes to a close, the Marines of CLB-3’s Engineer Company will continue to support elements of Regimental Combat Team 1.

“Our whole philosophy behind [supporting fellow units] is if we have the time, materials and ability to support them without hindering our main mission, we’ll do it.” Stroud added. “It’s something we should take pride in because we’re all in this together and we certainly want to do what we can in the short time we’re here.”


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