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Photo Information

FALLUJAH, Iraq - Corporal Mike Goebel, a combat engineer with 2nd Platoon, Company A, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, stands in front of an observation post he and his fellow engineers built along the Euphrates River here Sept. 5. Iraqi soldiers will man Observation Post Kilpela to monitor the city streets and riverbed's farm fields for insurgent activity, to include the placement of improvised explosive devices.

Photo by Cpl Mike Escobar

Dearborn Marine's team engineers new ways to help Iraq

25 Sep 2005 | Cpl. Mike Escobar

Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  That's a philosophy Marines like Cpl. Mike Goebel take to heart.

As a Marine with 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, his job was to help rebuild and secure the area; now, his efforts have shifted to helping the nation's own security forces take charge of this daunting task.

On Sept. 5, the 24-year-old Dearborn, Mich., native and his fellow Marines took another step toward reaching their long-term goal.  Armed with shovels, spools of wire and a bulldozer, 2nd Platoon, Company A, 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion personnel erected a new observation post, or OP, along the Euphrates River from which the Iraqi soldiers will look out for terrorist activity.

Goebel and the Marines plowed down the soldiers' old post and built a better, more fortified one.  OP Kilpela, named after one of the unit's engineers who was killed this past June during an improvised explosive device's blast, provides the troops better visibility and protection as they scan the nearby streets and the riverbed's surrounding farm fields.

"The Iraqi soldiers’ old post wasn't elevated or very stable," stated Goebel, who first honed his engineering skills while working as a foreman for a waterproofing company.  "We built them this hardened bunker so they can be secure against attacks as they look out at the rooftops and the fields."

In addition to its height, OP Kilpela offers soldiers layers of protection from some of the worst threats here: small arms fire and vehicle-borne IEDs. 

According to Gunnery Sgt. David Dickens, 2nd Platoon's staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge, OP Kilpela's location has seen a substantial amount of insurgent activity. 

The road running parallel to the Euphrates has been the site for numerous IED attacks on military convoys.  It is surrounded by marketplaces and numerous side streets, which provide insurgents a variety of hiding spots, Dickens said.

The heaps of rubble and garbage that litter the riverbed also provide terrorists convenient spots in which to conceal IEDs.  In the past, 2nd Platoon personnel have posted signs asking citizens not to dump garbage there by making them aware of the roadside bomb threat.  The construction of OP Kilpela is their latest effort to help their Iraqi counterparts quell terrorist activity here.

The engineers spent approximately five hours erecting this post.  The Iraqi soldiers will continue fortifying it by stretching protective wire around the perimeter and placing sandbags atop the guardhouse. 

Although they toiled underneath the blazing summer sun, Goebel said he and the Marines were motivated to know that their hard labor is preparing the local soldiers to better take charge of their nation's security.

"In the long run, the small things we do, like building this OP, will give the Iraqis increased confidence to take on…this area's security," he stated.