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    Combat engineers build posts during Operation Double Check to improve Musa Qal’eh’s security



    Story by Cpl. Tommy Bellegarde  

    II Marine Expeditionary Force   

    PATROL BASE 7171, Helmand province, Afghanistan – Marines from 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, spent the opening days of Operation Double Check building elevated security posts for Afghan National Security Force and Afghan National Police personnel. The posts, now complete, were placed in areas of southern Musa Qal’eh district, Helmand province, that lacked a coalition presence prior to the operation’s start, Jan. 3 – areas that have been plagued by an active insurgency in recent years.

    The engineers are working in direct support of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, during Double Check, and the platoon was split between Marines building posts on the west side of the Musa Qal’eh wadi, or dry riverbed, supporting Echo Company, 2/4, and in the east assisting Fox Company, 2/4, during the construction period.

    “We are building posts on both sides of the wadi; half the platoon is over there and the other half is here,” said Salt Lake City native Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Eardley, the platoon sergeant for 2nd Platoon. “We’re going to fortify these positions so the (Afghan Uniformed Police) and (Afghan National Army) can come in and control it with a little bit of Marine help and a lot of motivation.”

    The engineers worked swiftly during the first week of the operation to complete the posts, spending many hours setting up and filling gabions, shoveling dirt, building berms and laying concertina wire – all with the Marines wearing full combat gear and using limited resources to accomplish their mission.

    “We’ve got one (bulldozer) and one (multi-purpose bucket loader) on each side of the wadi to do this, and that’s it for heavy equipment; everything else is just manpower,” said Eardley. “It’s just hard work and motivation and then a couple pieces of heavy equipment to ensure we get the job done.”

    Afghan Uniformed Police personnel selected the locations for the posts to be placed, choosing sites they felt to be easily tenable and visible to the public. The AUP patrolmen also helped with construction by filling sandbags and placing them on the posts as fortification.

    “The AUP posts were selected by the AUP themselves in locations (within Echo Company’s area of operation) that they knew they could get the best support and where they could best provide security for the people in the towns of Mosulmani, Khwajadad and Surkyan,” said Midland, Texas, native Capt. Aaron Awtry, the commanding officer of Echo Company.

    The posts are now manned by AUP patrolmen since being completed during Double Check’s first week, and the people of southern Musa Qal’eh district are now safer, largely because of the engineers’ work ethic and selflessness.

    “The Marines are in an austere environment here,” said Eardley. “There’s a war going on around us and with the threat of (improvised explosive devices) and direct-fire weapons, these guys are still up here putting up the wire, putting up the berms and building the posts to ensure the safety of others.”

    Editor’s note: Second Platoon, Bravo Company, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, is working in direct support of 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6 in 2nd Marine Division (Forward), which heads Task Force Leatherneck. The task force serves as the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest) and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.



    Date Taken: 01.26.2012
    Date Posted: 01.26.2012 12:59
    Story ID: 82861
    Location: PATROL BASE 7171, AF

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