CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – What started out as a wide open, barren area, took the form of a Forward Operating Base as close to 100 Marines with Bravo Company, 7th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group, sawed boards to build guard towers, constructed earth berms surrounding its perimeter and set up a command and control center during a field training exercise aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., June 11, 2014.
A FOB is a secure site that hosts a small contingency of service members. It facilitates efficient movement of troops from a secure location to an area of operation.
“The experience we are getting here is paramount to being combat engineers,” said 1st Lt. Kyle Watkins, executive officer, Bravo Co. “FOBs play a critical role in our operational capabilities and the engineers make it possible.”
Before the construction process began, the Marines swept approximately 40,000 sq. meters for booby-traps and any other dangers. Usually a FOB is built in an area with known dangers, offering little protection and leaving Marines vulnerable during the construction phase. Other support elements from the battalion, such as Bridge Company, posted security for Bravo Co. to focus entirely on the task at hand.
“Time is of the essence,” said Cpl. Charles Irish, construction noncommissioned officer with Bravo Co. “The faster we build the structures, the faster we have cover for Marines posting security, and the safer we are. We never want to be [easy] targets.”
Throughout the training, despite role players simulating an enemy force trying to compromise the site, four 20-foot tall guard tower, a command and control center and approximately eight-foot tall earth berms, were among the structures completed in a mere 72 hours.
According to Irish, a native of Leroy, Ohio, the only experience they usually receive for building FOBs is when they deploy. This training allowed Marines to familiarize themselves with the construction of a FOB from the ground up. According to Watkins, the training gave his Marines the skills and confidence necessary to deploy and construct a FOB.
“Where ever it may be … we can take the lessons we learned, here, and employ them to create a similar, better FOB. Smaller, larger -- you name it; we can build it,” said Watkins.