PATROL BASE WISHTAN, Afghanistan --
The bulldozer, unceremoniously, rams into the wall of mud bricks and straw, causing the top half to collapse. With dust and debris forming a cloud around the machine, local Afghans children gather to see what the commotion is about. The bulldozer backs up and plows into the wall again, leaving a pile of rubble where the outer wall once stood. Marines with 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion spent three days leveling part of the patrol base, here, Feb. 23.
“We are tearing this base in half for the (Afghan National Civil Order Police) and Marines who are here,” said Cpl. Austin Brown, a heavy equipment operator with 3rd CEB.
The base needed to be reduced because the area had become more secure, and the need for more troops had decreased.
“They didn’t have the manpower to maintain the big patrol bases,” added Cpl. William Nikulos, a heavy equipment operator with 3rd CEB. “So we’ve been tearing it in half, taking down hesko (walls) and putting up new hesko (walls), tearing down (guard) posts and building new (guard) posts.”
In the last couple months, the battalion focused on patrol bases demolitions and reductions.
“It’s important to make it smaller for the (Afghan National Security Forces) so they have enough people to maintain it,” added Nikulos, a native of Castle Rock, Wash.
Eventually, like a lot of small bases sprinkled throughout Helman Province, this base will soon transition from Coalition opeated, to Afghan controlled.
Whether it’s Afghan National Army, Afghan Uniformed Police or another type of ANSF, these PBs will become their bases. The combat engineers, with 3rd CEB, make sure the bases are suited to their needs.
“They (ANSF) are involved with how they want it because over time they’ll be taking this place over,” said Brown, a native of Montgomery, Texas.
Nikolus worked on more than a dozen patrol base reductions and demolitions, tearing down walls and building new ones in conjunction with the ANSF in the area.
The ANCOP wanted a clear line of sight to the fields around them. The Marines with 3rd CEB were willing to help.
The battalion tore down or reduced more than 12 patrol bases over the past month.
Editor’s Note: The 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines are currently assigned to Regimental Combat Team 6, which is part of Task Force Leatherneck. Second Marine Division (Forward) heads Task Force Leatherneck, the ground combat element of Regional Command (Southwest), and works in partnership with the Afghan National Security Force and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to conduct counterinsurgency operations. The unit is dedicated to securing the Afghan people, defeating insurgent forces, and enabling ANSF assumption of security responsibilities within its area of operations in order to support the expansion of stability, development and legitimate governance.