SHIR GHAZAY, Afghanistan --
As Afghanistan continues to transition into a stronger, Afghan-led country, Marines continue to do their part by leaving things better than they found them.
Marines with Engineer Support Company, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), contributed to this cause during a two-day route reconstruction project near the village of Shir Ghazay, March 13-14.
When the Marines arrived on scene, they found a dilapidated bridge and culvert system, which is a tunnel built under a bridge that allows water to pass through. The road leading up to the bridge was dotted with potholes and mounds of dirt, and the bridge itself showed visible signs of wear and tear from years of use.
“This particular culvert [system] turned out to be very challenging,” said 1st Lt. Steven A. Cox, platoon commander, Engineer Support Co., 9th ESB.
This project was the most difficult repair to a bridge and culvert system Engineer Support Company has done to date, added Cox.
What was originally supposed to be just a culvert replacement, turned out to be a complete overhaul of the entire system.
Once ground was broken, three culverts were discovered, which indicated that the amount of water that flowed through them was more than they previously thought, said Cox. With that discovery in mind, the original plan of one culvert was changed to another that called for the installation of two 24-inch culverts during a two-day project.
The locals of Shir Ghazay gathered around as the heavy equipment moved earth and metal to provide them with a safer way of passage and a more efficient waterway.
“It is very good that the Marines repaired this bridge. It’s important to us,” said Haji Mohammad Osman, a village elder. “I have lived here a long time, and this bridge has always been broken. Fixing this bridge has been very beneficial. We thank the Marines.”
The area in which the road reconstruction project took place is where 2nd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment has partnered with the Afghan National Army and the Afghan Uniformed Police in establishing a series of security posts, said Capt. John Frerichs, Echo Company Commander, 2nd Bn., 5th Marines.
“After we established that initial security though, we identified that the primary route, or line of communication, for the people up into the district center was not accessible [by] roadway. [9th ESB] has been able to, with the current road project along Route Yellow, free up that as a line of communication, which is really going to connect the people from the Musa Qa’lah district center all the way down to Sangin,” said Frerichs.
By rebuilding this road, the people of Shir Ghazay can now easily travel to the main government district where they can vote and local security posts are now more accessible.
“Ninth ESB is critical to the success of the continued development of relations with the people and establishing critical infrastructure,” said Frerichs.
By leaving things better than they were, 9th ESB has helped the Afghan people move closer to a more independent, self-sustaining country.