CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan -- Marines and sailors with 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion relieved 1st CEB during a transfer of authority ceremony aboard Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, April 20.
“Our transfer of authority ceremony was relatively low key,” said Lt. Col. John Osborne, commander of 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, Regional Command (Southwest). “The reality is our transition has been very smooth. We stay in touch with each other when we’re not in theater.”
The Marines and sailors of 2nd CEB, stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to continue where 1st CEB left off. Stationed at Camp Pendleton, California, 1st CEB has been conducting route clearing assistance in Helmand province in order for local Afghans and coalition forces to travel safely through the area since their deployment began in October.
Route clearance is the act of verifying a certain route or roadway is clear of hazards such as improvised explosive devices.
“We plan to continue to sustain the operations of the Marine Air Ground Task Force and continue to support retrograding operations, route clearance and ensure the security patrol elements won’t be impeded by IEDs and are able to complete their mission,” said Osborne.
A route clearance unit is composed of Marine operators, several mine- sweeping vehicles and IED Detection Dogs with their handlers. A route clearance unit is a necessity for any security patrol or convoy leaving Camp Leatherneck. Improvised explosive devices are the main threat for coalition forces operating in Helmand province and the surrounding areas.
“There has been a lot of bloodshed and effort put into our mission’s success,” said Lt. Col. Andrew Winthrop, commanding officer, 1st CEB. “We have done our job up to this point and we have done it well. Second Combat Engineer Battalion has been set up for success, and it will be a remarkable success story once it’s completed.”
The engineer Marines are constantly conducting maintenance and double-checking their equipment to verify optimal working conditions every time they conduct a route-clearing task.
“The Marines are hard working and compassionate, but at the same time they are firm and fair, and look out for each other,” said 1st Sgt. Paul Costa, acting battalion sergeant major with 2nd CEB. “The bond with these guys is very strong. We trained really hard before we deployed, and I am confident in these guys.”
The Marines with 2nd CEB will continue to provide route clearance for the duration of the time coalition forces are deployed in Afghanistan.
“The Marines here are awesome,” said Osborne. “They are extremely competent, motivated and ready to get the job done.”