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New footbridge eases movement for locals, Marines in Helmand

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Helmand Province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan – “Building bridges,” as the expressions goes, is a vital task in connecting with the people in a counterinsurgency environment.

http://www.iimefpublic.usmc.mil/public/InfolineMarines.nsf/(ArticlesRead)/AA3AC4D2E19C98F685257622002ECC02

8/30/2009
CPL. AARON ROOKS

But the Marines of 2nd Platoon, Company C, 8th Engineer Support Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 2, Marine Expeditionary Brigade-Afghanistan didn’t stop at expressions, they actually built a bridge.

The recently-built, 69-foot footbridge spans a canal in Hasan Abad, a village near Forward Operating Base Delhi in Garmsir District. It was built in three days by the Marines, in an area where major roads and trails intertwine with irrigation ditches and canals.

First Lt. Carla Gerlach, a combat engineer and native of Kennesaw, Ga., said Marines from Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 3, MEB-Afghanistan, patrol the area regularly and needed a way to get across the canal and into the populated areas nearby.

A bridge located further south featured too many dangers for the patrolling Marines to cross, while one to the north was simply too far away to reach, resulting in the Marines having oversight of the area, but not control.

“This bridge will allow the Marines to have a better grasp of the area,” Gerlach said.

Gerlach said a local member of the Afghan National Security Forces stated he was excited to have the bridge, for it also allows local Afghans more freedom of movement around the area instead of being forced to walk down to the other distant bridges.

Gerlach also said the bridge will last for years to come for use by the local Afghan populace.

The bridge was designed by Master Gunnery Sgt. Garlen Powell, 8th ESB’s operations chief and a combat engineer of 25 years. It features an expeditionary design, being made mostly of just two A-frames, cables, Hesco Barriers, and a mixture of pavement and rocks.

“It turned out very well,” said Sanborn, N.D., native Sgt. Charlie Clyde, a combat engineer and squad leader from 2nd Platoon. “The design was flawless, and everything worked out according to plan in the build. Everybody knew what was going on and how to make it work.”

Powell said there’s a possibility that another company from 2/8 will request to have a similar footbridge built in its area of operations in the near future, which is a sign of the reputation the bridge has already created