News: Marine Engineers Transfer Authority in Afghanistan
Story by 1st Lt. Tyler Morrison
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan – After a successful deployment providing general engineering support to both 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) and 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), 9th Engineer Support Battalion relinquished their responsibilities to 8th Engineer Support Battalion in a transfer of authority ceremony here, May 30.
Lt. Col. Scott Baldwin, 9th ESB commanding officer, and Sgt. Maj. Wesley Schaffer, the battalion sergeant major, took their place in front of a formation of Marines and sailors from both units and added an Afghan Campaign streamer to their organizational colors. The new streamer symbolizes all the hard work 9th ESB put forth throughout their deployment, and its addition to the unit colors will ensure their dedication is always remembered. Ninth ESB’s leadership then cased their colors, symbolically ending their deployment.
Conversely, Lt. Col. Ferdinand Llantero, the commanding officer of 8th ESB, and Sgt. Maj. John Bankus, the battalion sergeant major, uncased their unit’s colors and assumed responsibility for providing general engineering support to 1st MLG (Fwd).
Over the course of their approximate seven month deployment, 9th ESB conducted a comprehensive range of engineering operations in support of ISAF Marine Air Ground Task Force. The Marines and sailors built, fortified and improved countless patrol bases, combat outposts and forward operating bases. They repaired existing bridges and roads and constructed new ones to increase mobility throughout the battlespace. Ninth ESB also provided bulk fuel storage and water distribution facilities within the area of operations that kept servicemembers in the fight.
Overall, the Marines and sailors drove more than 150,000 miles throughout Helmand Province, improved 85,672 meters of road, distributed more than 11 million gallons of water and dispensed more than eight million gallons of fuel.
The Commanding General for 1st MLG (Fwd), Brig. Gen. John J. Broadmeadow, took the opportunity to recognize 9th ESB for their successful deployment.
“I’m particularly proud of what 9th ESB has done. They have literally reshaped this battlespace, and this battalion has done marvelous things to set this [Marine Air Ground Task Force] and all of RC(SW) up for success,” said Brig. Gen. Broadmeadow. “[Ninth ESB is] leaving here with a terrific legacy and a job very well done. The people of Afghanistan have benefitted from what 9th ESB has done out here.”
Brig. Gen. Broadmeadow also welcomed Llantero and the Marines and sailors of 8th ESB to Afghanistan and emphasized how their mission would differ from their predecessor’s.
“Your deployment will be significantly different,” Brig. Gen. Broadmeadow explained. “While you will pick up a lot of these projects, you will not only continue to help reshape the battlespace in a major way but will also reshape your battalion and set future units up for success. It really represents a change of scope and focus.”
In his remarks, Baldwin praised the hard work of his battalion and pointed out the importance of the ceremony to Marine engineers throughout the Corps.
“This is the end of an era. After almost a decade of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, this is the last [transfer of authority] between engineer support battalions. We leave behind a demonstration of what an engineer support battalion can do when you mass your engineers.”
Llantero wished 9th ESB well on their journey back to their home station of Okinawa, Japan and emphasized his battalion’s eagerness to get started and achieve great things in one sentence.
“Sir, we’re ready to go.”