HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan --
Whether the Marines of 9th Engineer Support Battalion are building bridges or roads or constructing new structures on patrol bases throughout Helmand province, the Marines provide tactical logistics support so that other units have what they need to accomplish their mission. However, completing these tasks takes not only the hard work of combat engineers, motor transport operators and heavy equipment operators, but military police Marines to provide security to ensure the mission is accomplished in the safest environment possible.
According to their website, 9th ESB provides general engineering support of an expeditionary nature to Regional Command (Southwest) including mobility, counter-mobility, survivability, engineer reconnaissance, tactical utilities, bulk water production and storage, and bulk fuel storage.
For the Marines of Engineer Support Company, 9th ESB, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), knowing teams of military policemen are providing security both while they travel and while they are working allows the 9th ESB Marines to focus on their assigned tasks.
“Our job is to provide all security for [our] convoys maneuvering from point A to point B and while we are at fixed positions,” said Cpl. Nickolas Gervasoni, a military policeman and a security team leader, Engineer Support Co., 9th ESB, 1st MLG (Fwd).
In addition to providing an extra measure of protection, the Marines have other tasks they are responsible for while on missions.
“Our guys do everything,” said Sgt. Carlos Garza, assistant convoy commander and squad leader, Engineer Support Co., 9th ESB, 1st MLG (Fwd). “We drive the security trucks, are responsible for communications and of course man the crew-served weapons.”
The security teams with 9th ESB spent countless hours preparing prior to arriving in Afghanistan to ensure they were ready for any mission thrown their way.
“We trained a lot; about seven solid months of training,” Gervasoni said. “Prior to deploying, we trained to do everything from dismounted patrols, night patrols and even house clearings.”
According to Gervasoni, training prior to deployment and their time in country has really been beneficial for the Marines.
“The team has really grown together,” said Gervasoni, 27, from Trenton, N.J. “Every single Marine has a vast amount of knowledge about our specific mission and how to get the job done.”
Security for any convoy or engineering operation is crucial, and the junior Marines and noncommissioned officers are the ones who provide the essential piece.
“We have a handful of NCO’s, but the majority of the security team are junior Marines,” said Garza, 27, from Houston. “Everyone has really stepped up to the plate and is doing a great job.”
The greater part of the Marines on the security team are on their first deployment; however, according to Garza they are all handling it like seasoned veterans.
“Our job here is to get the mission accomplished, get everyone home safe and get our gear home,” said Lance Cpl. Cornelius Greer, a security vehicle commander, Engineer Support Co., 9th ESB, 1st MLG (Fwd). “I think we all understand our role here. It can sometimes be difficult, but I am confident our team will get the job done.