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Photo by Cpl. Freddy Medina

Local engineers, Marines repair roadway

9 Jul 2005 | Lance Cpl. Zachary W. Lester 2nd Marine Division

Local engineers recently completed road repairs to ease traffic flow on the main highway leading into the town of Rutbah in western Iraq while Marines provided security.  

The engineers patched two large holes, which were caused by insurgents detonating two improvised explosive devices.

Marines with the 5th Civil Affairs Group initially met with the mayor of the town to discuss repairing the damaged highway.  They soon found out that a local engineer was ready to fix the road, but the mayor wanted to make sure that the Marines were informed and could help provide security.

“They wanted to make sure we didn’t think they were a threat. Fixing a road can look like planting an IED,” said Maj. James Gonsalves, the civil affairs team leader with the 5th CAG detachment in direct support of Regimental Combat Team-2.

When the civil affairs team later visited the site, they found the local engineer working closely with RCT 2 Marines to fix the road. 

“We went out there and nine workers from Rutbah were fixing the road,” said Cpl. Freddy Medina, a civil affairs team member.

“Not only did the engineer repair the road, but he also began clearing the trash from the sides of the road,” said Medina.  “This will reduce the places were roadside bombs can be concealed, which is a danger to the local community and the Marines traveling through the area.”  

This and future road projects are made possible by a recent project to rebuild a dilapidated asphalt plant. This was a joint effort between the Iraqi government and Marines from the 5th CAG to provide the community with jobs and the means to complete future road repairs.

The Marines see this as a large step toward a self-sustaining community for Iraq.

“The good news from this whole story is the communications between the town and the Marines facilitated the completion of the project, which is a positive step,” Gonsalves said.  “It is good to see the Iraqi government taking care of these things.

“This never would have happened three months ago,” Gonsalves said.  “We are trying to get them to do things for themselves so they can be self-sufficient.”