Marines continue infrastructure growth in Afghanistan

Posted: April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized


Story by Sgt. Michele Watson

HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Marines with Support Company, 9th Engineer  Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) worked tirelessly toward  the completion of a 12 kilometer stretch of road.
A road was already in  place, but during several severe rainstorms the route was damaged and in  desperate need of repair.
“After receiving approval to reconstruct the  road, we had to figure out the amount of fuel, equipment and manpower needed to  accomplish the mission,” said Gunnery Sergeant Joel Williams, heavy equipment  chief, Heavy Equipment Platoon, Support Co., 9th ESB, 1st MLG (Fwd).
To  construct a road that can withstand heavy rains, heavy equipment operators used  heavy equipment for a multi-step system. The process created a smooth path  similar to roads in America.
First, the Marines used a front loader to  load up the dump trucks with gravel. The dump trucks then dropped the gravel  onto the road. A road grader, which is used to shape the road, leveled out the  surface and also made the V-ditches on the side. After the road was shaped, a  water truck wet the rock and soil. Once that dried, heavy equipment operators  used a compactor to pack the building materials together. This process results  in a fast, convenient route of travel.
“While I am in the compactor, my  job is to make sure the road is heavily compressed,” said Lance Cpl. Yanet  Sierra Trejo, a heavy equipment operator with Heavy Equipment platoon, Support  Co., 9th ESB, 1st MLG (Fwd). “When I am in the [front loader], I have to make  sure I put enough gravel in the dump to lay out on the road.”
Although  asphalt is not used to create a black top surface like highways in America, when  using the adapted road, the difference is hard to notice.
“You can feel  how smooth it is when you’re driving on the road,” said Williams. “It’s just  like driving on a road back home.”
To counter the effects of water  damage, the Marines built V-ditches on both sides of the road for rain to drain  into. The road was also built with a small crown.
“Instead of having a  flat road, we leave a three to five percent grade crown in the road, so the  water goes into the V-ditches during rainfall,” said Cpl. Joshua Reynolds, a  heavy equipment operator, Heavy Equipment Platoon, Support Co., 9th ESB, 1st MLG  (Fwd).
Road construction always requires the skill of heavy equipment  operators, but more was required to accomplish this mission due to the threat of  insurgent activity.
“Being in Afghanistan we also have to determine how  much security is needed,” said Williams.
During the project, a security  team was established to protect the Marines working on the road.
“Before  the heavy equipment operators begin their work, we clear the area using  mine-rollers to proof the area for [improvised explosive devices],” said Cpl.  Jared Hilton, security team leader, 2nd squad, Security Platoon, Support Co.,  9th ESB, 1st MLG (Fwd). “Once it’s cleared, the operators can move freely.”
Multiple irrigation trenches and canals create opportunities for enemy  fighters to maneuver and place improvised explosive devices, but added security  diminishes the threat.
“Insurgents use the areas we can’t see, like  wadis, to move around,” said Hilton. “We post security and keep eyes on all  avenues of approach, so the heavy equipment operators can work through the day  and focus on their task.”
With the completion of the road, military  vehicles as well as local civilians have a faster and safer method of  travel.
“The road will allow freedom of movement without worrying about  damaging mine-roller wheels or the vehicle itself,” said Williams.
Hilton  also discussed the benefit of lessened IED threats.
“Because we add so  many rocks, the road is harder, and it’s more difficult to dig holes to plant  IEDs in,” said Hilton.
The Marines of Support Company worked well  together, and their dedication to the mission brought safety to both military  and civilian vehicles and garnered the appreciation of the locals.
“I  think these Marines are some of the best I have ever worked with,” said  Williams. “They have the ability to deliver and make it happen. They are all  positive, so it makes for good end results.”
Hilton also said the efforts  of both security and construction go hand in hand.
“We definitely work as  one team,” said Hilton.”We all know each other’s jobs and responsibilities, and  it helps to make the mission run smooth.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s