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Engineers increase battalion’s abilities

5 Aug 2008 | Cpl Erik Villagran

Combat engineers have assisted 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 5, with bringing things down to the ground or raising things up from ground level.

Marines with 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 3rd Combat Engineers Bn., have helped 3 Bn., 4th Marines, with force protection, demilitarization of combat outposts and weapons-cache excavations.

“We’ve done a lot of force protection for Coalition forces, Iraqi Security Forces and local nationals,” said 1st Lt. Josiah P. Brand, 24, combat engineer officer from Fallbrook, Calif. “We’ve also done demilitarization for Coalition forces and we’ve done some cache clearing along the Euphrates River.”

The engineers reinforced entry control points in 3 Bn. 4th Marines’ area of operations by putting up barriers, building bunkers and fortifying guard posts. They have moved more than 1,000 concrete barriers while on this deployment, Brand said.

On top of force-protection missions, the engineers spent their time conducting cache sweeps.

“We’ve found everything from 120 mm rockets to 14.5 mm anti-aircraft rounds, and everything in between,” said Sgt. Bryan S. Mohundro, 23, a squad leader from Columbia, Tenn. “When you find a good weapons cache, it’s exciting.”

The missions the Marines have been conducting have helped keep the morale in the unit up because they can see the results of their hard work.

“It’s been good to do tangible things, like placing and removing concrete barriers and finding improvised explosive device materials,” Brand said. “It’s good to know we’re doing all this work that contributes toward the progress in the al-Anbar province.”

The engineer platoon was the first platoon from the recently activated 3rd CEB to deploy. Although many of the platoon’s Marines are on their first deployment, they’ve played a vital role in conducting combat operations in the large area of operations.

“I have to hand it to the young guys,” Mohundro said. “Some of the younger guys have stepped up into leadership positions. This combat deployment has been successful because of the young guys.”

Brand has been pleased with how his Marines have performed throughout the combat tour.

“The deployment has gone very well,” Brand said. “We’ve accomplished a lot. We’ve helped the battalion transition into overwatch and provide the ISF the necessary platform for success when we leave.”