04 Jul. 2009
PR# 2009-465

ISAF engineers build fire base in Helmand

An ISAF Medium Crawler Tractor pushes dirt to create a 10-foot-high berm in Helmand Province June 27. The berms took 40 hours to complete with the U.S. Marine operators working around the clock. (ISAF photo)

KABUL, Afghanistan – On June 30 ISAF soldiers finished creating a fully-functional fire base north of Camp Dwyer, central Helmand Province in just 96 hours.

The US Marine combat engineers left Camp Dwyer on June 26 and began construction as soon as they reached their destination. The initial developments focused around survivability, including guard towers and protection from missile and rocket attacks.

Using only four bulldozers, they were able put up 2,100 meters of 10-foot-high berms to protect the troops from outside threats.

“We started at 12 p.m. on the twenty-seventh,” said 1st. Lt. Jack M. Young, heavy equipment platoon commander, Engineer Company. “Our first blade hit the ground and we were done (with the perimeter) in 40 hours.”

This fire base is currently able to support 400 Marines, but future plans include projects that will increase that number to 900 soldiers supporting the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) to free the population from the intimidation and violence of the insurgents.

“This base gives us the ability to project our power forward,” said Capt. Christopher E. Annunziata, commanding officer of Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion-8. “We have the ability to reach out and support the units here.”

U.S. Marines drag a fuel bladder up a berm that surrounds the fire base’s fuel farm in Helmand Province June 28. The fuel farm is able to hold 40,000 gallons of fuel. (ISAF photo)

The aim of ISAF in southern Helmand is to bring security for the population so they can register and vote during the upcoming elections. Once there is security, projects will be undertaken to meet the needs of the people and help them have a more prosperous life than they have experienced during the last 30 years of conflict. The projects will be developed in close coordination with the local village elders.

The Marines were broken into teams to tackle the many different tasks involved with the base’s construction.

For many of the troops coming to Afghanistan represents their second or third deployment and this has played a major role in accomplishing this project.

“It’s amazing what we can do in such a short time,” said First Sgt. Toshia C. Sundermier, Engineer Company. “I’m very proud of my Marines.”

Sundermier said she feels confident the work of her Marines will leave a lasting impression in Helmand Province by offering security to not only the Marines manning it, but also to the villagers who live beside it.

“It’s going to allow Marines to secure local towns,” Sundermier said. “It’s going to be around for a long time.”

Contact Information ISAF Public Affairs Office
Tel: +93 (0)799 51 1155 - Mobile: 0093 (0) 799 55 8291 pressoffice@hq.isaf.nato.int - www.nato.int/isaf/