April 26th, 2007 08:02 EST
Seabees build outpost in Al Anbar
ANBAR PROVINCE " The Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 finished construction of a combat outpost for Marine Regimental Combat Team 2 and Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines, in Iraq`s Al Anbar province, April 24.
When the Marines asked for help, the battalion was ready to respond. Dating back to the early days of World War II, the Marine Corps and the Navy`s Seabees have enjoyed a long tradition of shared service, which includes having to endure the same harsh frontline conditions. Today`s struggle in the global war on terrorism is no different.
These combat outposts, or COPs, help bring stability to regions plagued by Iraqi insurgents. They serve as a staging point for regular patrols and weapons cache sweeps, and allow the Marines to respond quickly to any situation that might arise. COPs also afford Marines the ability to eat, sleep and work in relative safety.
Normally, COPs are constructed by Marine Combat Engineering Battalions, but this time, Seabees from NMCB 28 got the call. Adding to the uniqueness of this mission, the Seabees were given only 48 hours to plan and stage prior to the start of the mission.
The battalion put together a detachment of 39 personnel for the mission, led by Lt. Mike Wilkinson, Civil Engineer Corps officer. Within the limited timeframe, they prepared a camp layout, pulled the necessary 12 truckloads of material together, staged 24 pieces of equipment and started the mission.
A lot of planning goes in to this type of operation, " said Wilkinson. NMCB 28 personnel from all departments and companies pulled together to help get us out to the project site. "
Convoy operations in Iraq have logistical and security challenges. The convoy operations in support of this mission were challenging due to a lack of paved or well-traveled dirt roads. Hauling heavy equipment across hills and wadis (ancient river beds) covered in what many can only describe as a thick layer of moon dust, " the Seabees had to dismount and unload their equipment numerous times to smooth the route and extract vehicles that became stuck.
Arriving at the site, which is now called Combat Outpost Timberwolf, April 8, the Marines provided security and commenced offensive operations while the Seabees wasted no time getting to work establishing a camp perimeter and performing berming operations.
According to Wilkinson, the location was ideal from a security aspect, but ground conditions made it difficult for construction.
We had to change the camp layout a few times to adjust for rock deposits that made it impossible to excavate or do any grading and leveling, " said Wilkinson.
Comfortable berthing was secondary to ensuring Timberwolf`s defenses were established.
The Seabees and Marine Corps Infantry are sharing the same frontline conditions; living and working side by side the entire time, " said Marine Capt. Adan Maldonado, RCT 2`s engineering officer.
As force protection construction was completed, the Seabees` focus shifted to quality of life issues including berthing and other relative creature comforts.
Maldonado commented that NMCB 28, provided the warfighter with what was needed to succeed, sometimes even before we anticipated that we needed it. "
NMCB 28`s commanding officer, Cmdr. Craig Scharton said projects like Combat Outpost Timberwolf are a prime example of what Seabees were designed to do.
"The construction of combat outposts is a quintessential way in which our Seabees are supporting the warfighter, " said Scharton. In the case of COP Timberwolf, we have gone from basically a bare spot on the ground to a fortified and hardened base camp in a short time period. This allows the Marines to maintain a presence and help promote law and order in a forward area while having a relatively secure place to live with at least a minimal amount of creature comforts for health and welfare."
Weapons Company`s operations are having success in this relatively virgin territory east of the Euphrates River. Numerous weapons caches have been discovered and destroyed. Meanwhile, the Seabees continue their construction operations at this combat outpost trying to make life for the warfighter a bit more bearable day by day.
Future improvements and maintenance on Timberwolf will require the Seabees to continue their relationship with the site they created from scratch.
NMCB 28 is part of nearly 1,300 sailors and Marines supporting critical construction efforts in the Al Anbar Province of Iraq as part of the 30th Naval Construction Regiment.
By Lt. Jeffery Moore and Lt. James Barlow
Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 Public Affairs