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Marines and sailors with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), organize construction materials before beginning a mission, Nov. 30. They spent several days building two patrol bases in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in support of security operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Katherine M. Solano)

Photo by Cpl. Katherine M. Solano

9th ESB: Building patrol bases leads to safer routes

12 Dec 2011 | Cpl. Katherine M. Solano

Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), spent a solid four days building patrol bases in early December along a main supply route in Helmand province that is known for its insurgent activity.

Their mission was to build two patrol bases from the ground up. They had limited resources and time to complete the construction, not to mention the ever-present threat of improvised explosive devices detonating in the area. Even with these odds working against them, the Marines made it happen.

It took the combined effort of the engineers with Alpha Company and the motor transport Marines with Support Co. working through the night, despite the cold and treacherous conditions. Equipment broke down, IEDs went off, and still, the Marines accomplished their mission.

“It’s important to the area to minimize the threats,” said Sgt. Codey Palfreyman, an engineer with Alpha Co., 9th ESB. “We have Marines up and down this route all the time and we don’t want them having to worry about going out on a mission and getting hit by an IED. This is a hot spot, so hopefully this will deter the enemies’ threat.”

Once the two bases were completed, their permanent residents moved in. The Georgian military will be occupying the posts, providing the manpower and security for the area.

“It’s a safe place for the Georgians to do whatever mission they are tasked with,” said Pfc. Cory McLouth, a motor transport operator with Support Co., 9th ESB. “It will help improve this route and keep it safe, prevent the Taliban from coming in and planting IEDs and hurting people.”

Missions such as this, that combine the efforts of multiple coalition force assets, will be key in the coming months as the Americans’ role in Afghanistan comes to a close.

 “Even after we leave, there will be other countries here providing security, so they need a safe place to stay,” added McLouth.

Despite the discomforts, dangers and equipment disabilities, the Marines maintained a positive attitude throughout the mission.

Palfreyman noted, “My Marines have been working hard … for two days straight so we can accomplish the mission on time.”

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