LAHIB, Iraq --
LAHIB, Iraq – The desert environment can be harsh on crops and livestock without the steady flow of fresh water, and in a place like Iraq, a fresh flow of water is hard to come by.
With this in mind, Marines of Task Force 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 1, along with the local officials of the Lahib area repaired a water purification pump and adjacent road here July 31.
Over the last few years, the water pump had been damaged by insurgents and the road leading to the pump was closed because of its strategic positioning for insurgents, said 1st Lt. Brendan Mahoney, platoon commander, 3rd Platoon, Company G, Task Force 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
“The insurgents stole everything out of the pump house a couple of years ago,” said Mahoney. “They stripped it of all its wires and working parts and used them to make (improvised explosive devices) to use against us. Once the area’s security improved, we requested through our higher headquarters approval to fix it for the local people.”
The road was filled with impact craters from bombs, said Mahoney. Units had found approximately 30 IEDs along the road and were forced to travel around it using a make-shift road on the other side of a nearby canal where farmers raised crops.
“(The main road) was the last stand for the insurgency in the area,” said Mahoney. “The local population and Marines would bypass the road completely and drive through the fields, but now the road is a safe place.”
“We appreciate the efforts of the Marines and the Iraqi Police,” said Sheik Suyhal, a local sheik. “These farm areas, no one could use them because there was no water and people would drive through the fields, but the Marines now gave life to these farms and this area.”
Marines had to build a bridge over the water pump’s pipes to protect them against passing traffic, said Achmed Sulayah, the lead contractor working with the Marines. Thanks in part to local citizens, the entire project took only two weeks to finish. The hiring of locals benefitted the area’s economy as well.
“I hired only people from (Lahib) and no workers from outside the area,” said Sulayah. “I hired them and taught them how to work construction, that way they have another job skill. They worked really hard to get this project done.”
The project is an example of what can be done when Marines, Iraqi Security Forces and local Iraqi leaders work together, said Capt. Mohammed Farhan, an Iraqi Policeman.
“The irrigation system has been broken since the beginning of the war,” Farhan said. “Now that it is getting safer and safer here, we can start piecing back together the area.”
The opening of the water pump and road are one of many projects the Marines of Task Force 2/3 have completed to help with the reconstruction of Iraq.
“These projects are just a taste of what we are able to do to help the Iraqi people,” said Capt. William Matory, commanding officer, Company G, 2nd Bn., 3rd Marines. “The partnership between the Coalition Forces and the Iraqis is at a level that when we work together, we can accomplish anything.”