Cpl. Bryan D. Escobedo, a U.S. Marine and combat engineer attached to the Twenty-nine Palms, Calif.-based 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, carries lumber for use in the construction of bunkers July 27, 2006, at Camp Korean Village, Iraq. Bunkers are just one example of the various construction projects combat engineers frequently build to help protect Marines and Iraqi soldiers throughout the country’s Al Anbar Province. The engineers, trained in demolition, mine detection, and construction, operate in this vast desert stretching from the Jordanian border about 120 miles east towards the Euphrates River. Most of the engineers’ time is focused on beefing up security measures at the various U.S. military bases throughout Anbar’s western desert region. “We’re jacks of all trades,” said Cpl. Joshua T. Raney, a 21-year-old combat engineer attached to the battalion’s engineer detachment. “Without us, a lot of weapons caches, and IEDs would not have been found, and a lot of stuff wouldn’t have been built- we just make things a little easier for everyone.” In addition to the fortifications, combat engineers are keeping Coalition Forces safer by disposing of unexploded ordnance. Since their arrival in March, the engineers disposed of more than 500 pounds of ordnance – mortars, rockets, bombs, and other munitions. “We’re cutting down on the insurgents’ munitions,” said Raney. “For every piece we blow up, that is one less IED.” Escobedo is a 21-year-old from Houston, Texas.
Continue reading "Combat engineers: Valuable asset to U.S., Iraqi security operations in western Iraq" »