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Marines with Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 46, will be repairing a drainage problem aboard Combat Outpost 160K, Iraq, which has caused this pool of gray water to form right outside the base, Oct. 16, 2009. In addition to the plumbing repairs the Marines will also be upgrading doors to improve security and improving electrical wiring. (U.S. Marine Corps photograph by Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty

Combat engineers improve living conditions aboard COP

26 Oct 2009 | Lance Cpl. Melissa A. Latty

Marines with Combat Logistics Battalion 46, stationed at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, are doing what they can to give Marines living on small forward operating bases and combat outposts in western Iraq better living conditions.

Six Marines with CLB-46’s Engineer Company traveled 11 hours to Combat Outpost 160K, Iraq, which is home to Military Transition Team 29, to conduct repairs and upgrades to the base, Oct. 16.

The MiTT is advising Iraqi soldiers from 29th Brigade, 7th Iraqi Army Division, who are located aboard the neighboring IA base, in the areas of intelligence, communications and logistics.

The six CLB-46 Marines are engineers trained in areas such as construction, plumbing and electrical repair, which are all skills necessary for the work they are completing aboard the COP.

One of the tasks they are performing is correcting a major drainage problem that is causing a pool of gray water to form just outside the base perimeter. Gray water is relatively clean waste water created from water used in places like the kitchen or  laundry facilities.

“The drainage problem is affecting the base’s overall sanitation,” said Gunnery Sgt. Paul Schmitt, the Engineer Co. gunnery sergeant.  “It is affecting their chow hall, laundry facilities and shower facilities.  [The standing water] is also attracting vermin and insects.”

To correct this problem, the Marines are digging into the ground to position pipes which will draw the water away from the COP.  They will then dig a hole and dump a large amount of stone so the water can leach through and evaporate.

“When the drainage was originally installed, there was no grade put in because the ground has a hard-packed layer of rocks, about 10 inches down, that [the previous workers] were not able to dig through,” Schmitt said. 

The CLB-46 Marines are using a D-7 caterpillar bulldozer and a BOBCAT telescopic forklift with a jackhammer attachment to break through the solid layer of rock.

In addition to the plumbing repairs, the Marines will also be upgrading doors to improve security and will also work on improving the electrical wiring.

“It will take approximately one week for the Marines to finish the projects,” Schmitt said.  “[The completion of the projects] is going to provide a higher level of hygiene, sanitation and security for the Marines that are living aboard COP 160K.”

Marines assigned to these smaller bases don’t have the same luxuries as those residing at larger bases.  The work that the Marines with CLB-46 are performing is one way to improve the living conditions during the MiTT’s eight-month deployment.

“This was Engineer Company’s first trip to COP 160K, and I anticipate more trips in the near future,” Schmitt said.  “There is still more work to be done.”

Despite the responsible drawdown of U.S. Forces and equipment out of Iraq, the repairs and upgrades being made are necessary to the MiTT’s mission.  The engineer Marines will be returning to COP 160K to fulfill a request to have a gate welded, add security lighting around the COP and install a hot water heater.

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