CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Working under the sun’s ruthless heat, 36 Marines and one sailor with 1st Platoon, Engineer Company, Combat Logistics Battalion 8, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward) worked to expand Combat Outpost Shukvani, Helmand province, Afghanistan, April 18-30.
COP Shukvani was originally built to house a company of Georgian soldiers. First Plt.’s mission was to expand the location so it can support a Georgian Army battalion.
“It was built for a company-size element to push patrols and other companies out of,” said 2nd Lt. David Grant, the 1st Plt. commander. “Our mission is to improve the COP and expand it for the 33rd Georgians.”
During the expansion, the engineers built Hesco barriers, a detention facility, entry control points and elevated fighting positions. They also put Concertina wire around the perimeter, among other tasks.
Working just east of Sangin, on a plateau overlooking the city, the desert terrain proved difficult to work in.
Grant, a native of Philadelphia, explained that the platoon’s heavy equipment vehicles had a hard time operating in the extreme heat and sand for such a lengthy period of time.
“It’s a very hard terrain to operate in for us, engineering wise. But we’re keeping on schedule, pushing long hours,” Grant added. “[The Marines] are extremely motivated and high spirited, so we’re tackling it the way we should be tackling it.”
Despite issues with the heavy equipment vehicles, the one hospitalman, eight heavy equipment operators, six motor transportation drivers and mechanics, and 27 combat engineers, finished building the camp in time for the 33rd Georgian Battalion to do their change over with the 32nd Georgian Battalion, April 30.
With the motto “Jack of all trades, master of none,” the difficult terrain proved tedious, but not a show stopper for the engineers.
Combat engineers specialize in anything and everything from building bridges to demolition, explained Sgt. Kenneth Meade, the 1st Plt. guide. “You name it, we do it.”
The troops arrived in Afghanistan in January, and began their deployment doing route clearance missions. A few months later, they began building Forward Operating Base Degori, Patrol Base Signs and COP Ertoba for coalition forces. COP Shukvani was their fourth building mission, as well as their largest.
After a week of building and another project completed, 1st Plt. convoyed out of COP Shukvani toward their next mission with the feeling a success.