PATROL BASE AMIR, Afghanistan --
Approximately 50 Marine combat engineers with Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3,1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), completed repairs to a well-traveled roadway near Patrol Base Amir in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, Nov. 28.
Improvements include widening the road with heavy equipment vehicles and applying several tons of gravel to enhance the road’s overall stability. The engineers completed approximately 300 to 500 meters of road improvements each day.
Prior to the repairs, portions of the dirt-covered road were deemed unfit for vehicle traffic, said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Anthony J. Reiter, engineer equipment officer, Engineer Co., CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD).
Though the road is often used by coalition and Afghan forces, it is also heavily traveled by the local Afghan community. According to Reiter, the end-state of the road repairs accomplishes dual objectives – one military, the other humanitarian.
“We’re here to increase the mobility of units operating [in the area] but also to do something positive for the local community,” said Reiter, a native of British Columbia, Canada. “With the amount of ‘moondust’ on some of the areas, it is difficult for [local Afghans] to move anywhere, especially with vehicle traffic – including donkeys and tractors. Hopefully, [the improvements] will give them a smooth ride for at least a few years. We’re always focused on the mission, but we’re able to help out in other ways too. I’ve had the opportunity to interact with members of the local population, and you can really see what a difference it makes to help out the local people. Based off of my experiences in Iraq, I’ve seen the difference [humanitarian assistance] can make. We can literally change their entire perception of [Americans] and what we can do for them.”
Improving the living conditions of the community members as well as strengthening the local economy are additional by-products of these road repairs.
The improved roadways make it easier for Afghans to travel to the community’s weekly markets. According to Staff Sgt. Julio Z. Castro, heavy equipment chief, Engineer Co., CLB-3, 1st MLG (FWD), the amount of dust that is stirred by passing vehicles may pose a health hazard for the community. In order to reduce the dust, the Marines saturate the road with water and lay gravel.
Aside from the socio-economic impact, the Marines’ road-repairing efforts will also provide a sizeable benefit for coalition forces.
“The road which the engineers are operating on can be considered a heavy threat route,” said Castro, a native of San Antonio, Texas. “The better the route, the more patrol bases can be constructed and the route can be more secure. This will also enable units to respond more quickly to threats in the area.”
“It’s interesting what we’re doing here, and it’s definitely an experience,” Castro continued. “The local community needs this area just as much as we do – it’s a shared road.”