Photo Information

Marine engineers dismount to check out a dried river bed, also known as a wadi, during a route reconnaissance mission in Helmand province, Afghanistan, Sept. 1. Marine engineers gather any possible information they find can out about the path they travel on to plan better routes for future missions.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Khoa Pelczar

Route recon missions keep enemy guessing

1 Sep 2010 | Lance Cpl. Khoa Pelczar 1st Marine Logistics Group

Marine engineers with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), conducted a route reconnaissance mission in order to find alternate routes to travel when conducting resupply missions in northern Helmand province, Afghanistan, Aug. 31.

“A route recon mission is being able to identify an existing route’s service traffic ability and any obstacles or any existing compounds along the way,” said Capt. Tyrone A. Barrion, company commander for Bulk Fuel Company, 9th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD). “You want to be able to provide anyone else who wants to take the route in the future as much information as possible so it’s not as surprising when they run down that road.”

During a route recon mission, Marine engineers dismount from their tactical vehicles and gather any possible information they can find about the path they traveled on to plan better routes for later missions, explained Barrion, 26, from San Diego, Calif.

“Most of the work is done while we are dismounted,” said Barrion. “We’re checking the foundation, looking at the soil composition, identifying the sharp and easy curves, the gradient of the route. We identify the obstacles, take measurements, coordinates and write descriptions for all we find as well as [take] photographs so others can see for themselves.”

A route recon mission is an important step to any mission, Barrion said. It sets up the foundation for future personnel to work with. Not knowing the details of a route before conducting a mission could result in a delay of mission accomplishment.

“A route might look good on a map because you see a road there, but unless you know what it looks like, then that road means nothing to you,” said Barrion.

They must plan the route for various types of vehicles to pass through, Barrion explained. A steep hill can be easy for a tactical vehicle to negotiate, but it might cause problems for a logistics vehicle carrying a load. Marine engineers make sure to plan alternate routes while conducting their mission.

“The most important thing for us is to be able to have options during a mission,” said Barrion. “The more options we have of which route to take, the more work the enemy has to do to hit us, which provides us a safer and faster passage to resupply our friendly units.”

By having multiple options, Marines are keeping the enemy guessing, Barrion said. The warriors will have a better chance of avoiding improvised explosive devices, ambushes or artilleries and therefore, improving mission accomplishment.

“Being able to get from point A to point B is not mission accomplishment,” said Lt. Col. Ted A. Adams, 44, from Polson, Mont., Commanding Officer for 9th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD). “It’s the journey in between those points that counts. If we don’t hit any IEDs, don’t get ambushed by the enemy and are able to resupply those men and women faster during our missions, then that’s mission accomplishment.”

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