Photo Information

Staff Sgt. Gerhard Tauss launches an unmanned aerial vehicle prior to conducting operations in the scouted area in Nahr-e Saraj, Afghanistan June 20, 2012. Tauss is the platoon sergeant for 2nd platoon, Mobility Assault Company, 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, and operated in support of Operation Jaws as apart of the route clearance effort.

Photo by Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr

Combat Engineers aid mobility in Afghanistan

8 Jul 2012 | Cpl. Anthony Ward Jr. 1st Marine Division

Marines with 1st Combat Engineer Battalion, 1st Marine Division (Forward), performed route clearance, June 19-29, in support of Operation Jaws in Nahr-e Saraj, Afghanistan.

During the operation, the Marine combat engineers, paired with Army engineers and Air Force explosive ordnance disposal teams, travelled through the district exploiting and removing improvised explosive devices to facilitate Marines and Afghan soldiers safer travel in the district.

“We had two engineer elements, one on the west side of the river and one on the east side,” said Capt. Christopher Y. Kim, mobility assault company commander for 1st CEB.

The main mission was to provide troop mobility and gap crossing capabilities to aid infantry maneuvering and delivery of supplies and, added Kim.

The operation brought together many different elements and called for each one to play a key part.

Marines with 1st Tank Battalion aided in providing over watch security, along with partnered teams of Afghan National Army soldiers and Marines from 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

This multi-pronged effort proved fruitful as the Marines pushed throughout the battle space uncovering numerous IED’s.

“On the east side there were about 13 IED’s found,” said Kim. “On the west side we found two.”

The other supporting units found more IEDs; they even discovered an Anti-Tank explosive during the operation.

Uncovering these homemade bombs, which are known to rip vehicles apart and hinder troop movement, works toward the goal of establishing a safer Afghanistan.

“It’s all about freedom of movement throughout the battle space,” said Staff Sgt. Gerhard Tauss, platoon sergeant for 2nd platoon, MAC, 1st CEB. “If route clearance isn’t utilized properly, then you have vehicles driving all over the place taking IED strikes.”

Having route clearance sweep through an area dramatically decreases the chance of IED strikes against Marines and equipment, added Tauss.

The Marines of 1st CEB conducted the operation under the constant threat of the enemy.

The insurgents fired mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and smalls arms fire at the Marines hoping to throw them off their game.

“My guys did fantastic; I am super proud of them,” said Tauss. “We got into a firefight and they performed admirably; exactly how we trained them to. They kept their cool and I am lucky to have them in my platoon.”

“I think it was an extremely successful mission,” said Kim. “We made sure that over watch positions and ground forces were able to get in where they needed to, when they needed to. We made sure all the major lines of communications were clear of explosive hazards.”

By conducting route clearance, 1st CEB provided the troops assigned to the Nahr-e Saraj district with peace of mind, allowing them to concentrate on their task at hand.

1st Marine Division