News: 9th ESB offers necessary support for Special Operations Task Force West
MIRMANDAB, Afghanistan - The proximity of enemy fire didn’t deter progress being made in direct support of Special Operations Task Force West in Mirmandab, Afghanistan.
The Marines of Company A, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), pressed on to complete the mission.
“This mission was engineer operations in direct support of Special Operations Task Force West,” said Capt. Ryan T. Heider, commanding officer of Company A. “What we did was bridge a few gaps that couldn’t be crossed by conventional means. We also built a patrol base and a village support platform in order to allow SOTF-West to push further north.”
This particular area of Afghanistan has been a hotbed for the Taliban, housing countless insurgents throughout the valley and making it difficult for special operational units with SOTF-West to advance.
By establishing the patrol bases and bridges, SOTF-West’s mobility is not limited to foot movement, said Heider. It can now travel by vehicle and have a base to consolidate forces and resupply.
This unique mission allowed the Marines of Company A to run the gamut of combat engineering capabilities, as they opened up nearly the entire playbook of an engineer support company. Alpha Company built bridges and used composite C4 and other explosives to clear paths. The company also constructed buildings and structures out of the dirt surrounding them.
“We have never done anything like this,” said Heider. “We got to do almost everything that an ESB line company gets to do.”
“I think this mission just put all of our training together,” said Staff Sgt. Brian Glory, a platoon sergeant with the company. “We did every aspect of combat engineering from bridging to demolition, vertical and horizontal construction.”
All the aid the company provided was appreciated by the SOTF-West forces.
“This was said directly to me from the SOTF forces, ‘they couldn’t have done what they were doing without us,’” said Heider. “They were a little overwhelmed because they weren’t expecting the level of support they got from us.”
The Marines supported while under fire and with the constant threat of insurgents lurking nearby, proving they could perform in the worst of conditions.
“The Marines were able to shift gears and (performed outstanding), better than any group of combat engineers I have ever seen,” said Glory.
“The Marines worked well together; we worked 24 hours-a-day,” said Staff Sgt. Brian D. Corpuz, a platoon sergeant with the company. “There was a real lack of sleep, but these guys pulled through and they pushed each other.”
With help from the Marines of Company A, SOTF-West will be able to travel further into Mirmandab and eliminate enemy threats. This will aid in Afghanistan’s transition to a more peaceful and independent country.