COMBAT OUTPOST GANNON II, Iraq --
COMBAT OUTPOST GANNON II, Iraq – Coalition Forces are constantly constructing new ways to guard the Iraqi border.
Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 6, 1st Marine Logistics Group recently spent nearly all of July building Combat Outpost Gannon II, which overlooks the border between Syria and Iraq.
“There was all sorts of movement along the border, (insurgents) were moving their equipment through the wadis,” said Sgt. Jarrett D. McCann, 25, Buffalo, N.Y., convoy commander, Engineer Company. “Wadis” are river beds that carry water only during the wet season. Traders with caravans, livestock and produce travel the waterways during the dry season.
The Corps noticed one wadi in particular had caught the attention of insurgents and their influx of weapons and supplies. Shortly thereafter, Gannon II appeared.
“It’s in a really good spot. There’s a wadi that runs through the base,” said Sgt. Steven J. Geiger, security planner, Engineer Company. “That’s a main route that insurgents would use to export (improvised explosive devices, rocket propelled grenades) and AK-47s to give to insurgents in Iraq.”
The outpost serves another purpose aside from cutting off a main insurgent supply route between Syria and Iraq; it vacated Marines from the old Combat Outpost Gannon to make room for an expanding Iraqi free trade economy.
“(A local) sheik said he wanted the hardened structures (of Gannon I) back to expand the free trade market,” said Geiger, 25, Matamoras, Pa. “By us cutting (the supply route) off, (potential insurgents) have to go somewhere else now. All we’re trying to do is slow down the terrorist threat. If we can slow down terrorists coming in and out of Iraq, maybe we can get a free Iraq and go from there.”
But the project wasn’t all sunshine and smiles.
More than 200 Marines from Engineer Company and 7th Engineer Support Battalion braved the heat and dust for thirty days to make a base out of what was a piece of flat desert expanse. Engineers and heavy equipment operators dug a makeshift quarry, extracting an estimated $2 million of gravel to lay over the fine dust to battle the hazy conditions and improve the quality of life for Gannon II’s future inhabitants.
Anyone swinging a hammer or moving heavy lumber all day is bound to slip up at least once.
“A couple of curse words will jump out your mouth when a 12 (inch) by 12 (inch) piece of lumber hits your hand,” McCan said.
With a few expletives, some blood, sweat and tears from the engineers, the Marine Corps hit two targets with one shot. Gannon II helped cut off a main route of insurgent personnel and materials while expanding the local free trade market, boosting Iraq’s economy.
“With (infantry) stopping the insurgents coming in, it’s helping those Iraqis in (al-Qaim) with their comfort of living, their security and becoming a better Iraq. It’s easier to work on becoming a better place when you don’t have all that negativity coming into the area,” McCan said.