12.28.2010 ISAF Joint Command KABUL, Afghanistan – Coalition engineers continue to improve mobility for Afghan civilians and military personnel operating near Combat Outpost Rankel in southern Afghanistan.
The engineers have already widened and leveled more than 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) of a well-traveled road and reinforced a bridge deemed too narrow for the large amount of traffic in the local community.
Haji Khudairam, the nearest town, is a rural community with few passable routes for large vehicle traffic. The few routes available to locals and military personnel are littered with improvised explosive devices planted by insurgents operating in the area.
“When working [24-hour operations] in an area like this, security is always a concern,” said U.S. Marine Lance Cpl. Wesley F. Kelly, a heavy equipment operator. “We have to be on edge a little bit. It keeps you on your toes after you see and hear IED's go off in your area. You have no choice but to maintain a combat mindset.”
Despite the IED threat, or because of it, the combat engineers will continue to improve the area’s security for the next few weeks. According to one local citizen of Haji Khudairam, a 21-year-old male resident, the road repairs benefit the community greatly, but the presence of coalition and Afghan forces aids the people more because it provides them with a military presence which deters potential insurgent activity.
“We are very happy with the project here,” said the resident, through an interpreter. “There are more than 100 trucks that pass through this area every day, and the bridge will help. We are grateful for the Marines. Last night, I witnessed the Marines finding an IED and detonating it safely – this means lives were saved. When [combat engineers] work all night, we feel safer.”
These development projects serve the dual purpose of benefitting military units and Afghan civilians. By providing the units with greater mobility within their area of operations the engineers hope to enhance the safety and security of the Afghan community.