FALLUJAH, Iraq --
Heavy equipment operators from Combat Logistics Battalion 5 and combat engineers from Regimental Combat Team 1 completed leveling berms here Oct. 19.
The Marines spent about a week leveling approximately five miles of protective dirt mounds that extended along the sides of Wolverine Way, a road stretching from Camp Baharia to the edge of the city of Fallujah.
The project serves two purposes: to provide better visibility for Marines who occupy an observation post on the road and to make the area look more normal for the local Iraqis, said Staff Sgt. Bryan Spencer, platoon sergeant, Operations Platoon, Engineer Company, CLB-5.
“We’re going all the way down this road to get rid of all the berms and get it looking nice again,” said Spencer, from Texarkana, Texas.
The Marines worked from dawn to just before dusk along Wolverine Way knocking down the berm and flattening the land as much as possible.
As the heavy equipment operators and combat engineers leveled the dirt, nearby Iraqi civilians watched and saw a newly unobstructed view of their countryside.
Leveling the berms around Fallujah is part of a greater effort by Coalition forces to demilitarize Coalition camps in Anbar and turn over control of the area to the Iraqi government and security forces.
To prepare for closing the bases, Coalition forces remove military barriers such as the large reinforced concrete T-walls, Hesco barriers and concertina wire and withdraw all of the military equipment in order to return the areas to the condition they were in when they were occupied.
In al-Anbar province, the Coalition has closed or turned over control of Hit, al-Qa’im and Camp Blue Diamond in ar-Ramadi to the Iraqi government, and are preparing to close more bases, including Camp Fallujah, in January.
Coalition forces are withdrawing from areas close to the cities and showing the Iraqi people that things are indeed getting better, said Maj. Gen. John Kelly, commanding general, Multi National Force – West, about the demilitarization of Camp Fallujah during a Pentagon Press Brief Oct. 23.
For a few of the CLB-5 Marines, who came from Camp Ramadi to help with taking down the berm, the project has been a bit nostalgic.
Spencer has seen the evolution of the Marine Corps’ presence in Iraq from the beginning. He helped build up the Coalition foot print in Anbar, including berms like the one along Wolverine Way. Now he is tearing them down as the country transitions back to Iraqi control.
“I was here in (Operation Iraqi Freedom 1) when we put the berms up,” said Spencer. “It’s good to see it coming down. It’s good to see us getting ready to demilitarize some areas -- give some areas back and wind down (operations) a little bit.”