Marines Magazine

The Official Magazine of the United States Marine Corps

Subscribe by RSS

Bridging the Gap

TRAKH NAWA, Afghanistan – Since the removal of the Taliban as Afghanistan’s governing body nine years ago, coalition forces have helped rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, providing stability and peace to an otherwise turbulent region. Their humanitarian and peace-keeping efforts seek to bridge the divide between traditional and progressive values in an ever-changing world. For combat engineers, the aforementioned objective can be accomplished quite literally.

Approximately 40 Marines with Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 3, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), rebuilt a bridge Oct. 27 after a local dispute concerning water privileges ended in the burning of the previous, wooden structure. Operating near Marjah in Afghanistan’s Helmand province, the engineers accomplished a dual-purpose mission by increasing mobility for military units operating in the area and improving the roadways for the local Afghan community.

In order to create a more permanent structure, the Marines opted to use a large, metallic storage container for the bridge’s foundation rather than wood. The container also acted as a culvert, allowing water to pass underneath without interference, which was vital to the project because the river system serves as the community’s primary water source.

Given the Taliban’s influence in the area, it’s important to interact with local residents to increase awareness about coalition operations and reiterate to the community that U.S. forces are here to help rid them of the Taliban’s oppression, said 1st Lt. Elizabeth Stroud, 25, engineer platoon commander, Engineer Company, CLB-3.

“A lot of [the Trakh Nawa residents’] conversations were interesting,” Stroud said. “There is still an element of fear here, but the community interactions were still positive. They understand that we’re here to help them – not to occupy this country.”

Though their primary mission was to construct a bridge, the engineers did not take the enemy threat in the area lightly. After securing the area with help from Afghanistan National Army personnel and Marines from 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, and CLB-3 Marines maintained security around the area’s perimeter for the duration of the bridge’s construction.

For Lance Cpl. Derek Slaughter, 23, a combat engineer with Engineer Company, CLB-3, engineering missions in deployed environments are just as important as combat missions due to the physical, positive impact a project can have on an area.

“Personally, I enjoy the security element because it shows another aspect of [logistics occupations],” said Slaughter after providing on-site security during the mission. “Of course, I am a little nervous; a little anxious – but in the end I am confident we’ll do what we’re supposed to do in order to get the job done.”

After completing the bridge, the CLB-3 engineers returned to their base of operations, Camp Dwyer, for a debrief before beginning preparations for their next mission. For the Marines of CLB-3’s Engineer Company, the operational tempo is high and the job is demanding, but mission accomplishment and troop welfare remain top priorities.

“The [Trakh Nawa residents] were very appreciative of our efforts,” Stroud said. “The bottom line is that the mission was accomplished and everyone came home safe.”

    Related Posts

  • Wounded Marines still in the fight

    August 20th, 2012 // By Cpl. Daniel Wetzel

    As the battlefield settled and the medevac carried Cpl. Brad Fite to Germany, medical personnel didn’t think he would survive. The damage was so extensive, Fite had to be resuscitated three times before landing. “They  [Read more...]

  • Marines complete first unmanned landing support in Helmand province

    June 6th, 2012 // By Cpl. Lisa Tourtelot

    HELMAND PROVINCE, Afghanistan – Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 2, the “Night Owls,” made history in May when they completed the first “hot hookups” between landing support Marines on the ground and a hovering Kaman  [Read more...]

  • Future of Garmsir in Afghan Hands

    May 15th, 2012 // By Cpl. Reece Lodder

    America’s Battalion Completes Final Helmand Tour GARMSIR DISTRICT, Afghanistan — In the fall of 2004, the Marines and sailors of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment began a challenging  journey that took them to the Middle  [Read more...]

  • Operation Tageer Shamal

    May 14th, 2012 // By Cpl. Reece Lodder

    GARMSIR DISTRICT, Helmand province, Afghanistan - The heart of Garmsir district is safe. For the past five years, coalition forces have operated with Afghan National Security Forces to defeat the insurgency in the central Helmand River  [Read more...]

  • Night Lights

    March 23rd, 2012 // By Cpl. Reece Lodder

    Pfcs. Greg Zecher and Nicholas Roberts, machine gunners with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, illuminate the night sky by firing tracer rounds from their weapons during Exercise Clear, Hold, Build 3 on Marine  [Read more...]