AL-ANBAR PROVINCE, Iraq --
The lifeblood that helps rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure is commerce, and Iraq’s roads and bridges are the veins through which the lifeblood flows.
This makes the Wahid Bridge, which connects the two towns of Jubbah and Jubbah Ria, extremely important.bbah and Jubbah Ria. and Jubbah Ria. eins through which they flow.
“The bridge is basically a shortcut to cross the Euphrates,” said Sgt. John A. Esquivel, 22, from Duarte, Calif., who is the utilities chief section head with Support Platoon, Company A, 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regimental Combat Team 5. “The bridge was originally installed back in May and has since developed some problems due to the heavy presence of algae in the river. The algae have caused the anchor and buoy cables to sink below water level and have produced a curve in the bridge.”
Iraqi Army engineers assisted the Marines from Company A to dig four extra anchors along the river banks in order to give the floating-panel bridge extra support. The anchors will later be tied to the bridge by another team of engineers.
Having IA engineers assist the Marines showed that the Iraqis are making progress toward conducting operations such as this without the assistance of Coalition forces.
“By the IA engineers being out there and using their equipment to help us install the anchors, they were able to show that they are capable of supporting their people,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 John H. Walter, 37, from Lake Elsinore, Calif., who is the platoon commander for Support Platoon.
The day-long mission took some on-the-site coordination between the Marines and the IA engineers.
To avoid using heavy machinery on a local farm, the Marines used their excavator to dig on one side of the river and the IA engineers used their backhoe on the far side. Marines posted security on both sides of the river until the operation was complete.
“We didn’t want to just go on that (farmer’s) property and tear up his field,” said Walter.
The bridge is still usable by the locals and the IA while they wait for the extra anchors to be attached.
“The only other places to cross the Euphrates are about 50 kilometers in either direction,” said Walter. “The bridge has made a huge impact on this area. Both locals and the IA use it, and they are really happy with it.”