FORWARD OPERATING BASE ZEEBRUGGE, Afghanistan -- Along the front lines of the war in Afghanistan, Marines from 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward) are working hard to improve the quality of life and bulk up the security of one of the most remote forward operating bases in Helmand Province, FOB Zeebrugge, Sept. 16.
FOB Zeebrugge was transferred from the British to the Marines of India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2,1st Marine Division in June. Since then, the Marines have had to deal with austere conditions and the high threat the Taliban impose on the area.
"They are taking a dilapidated, barely functional living space and raising it up to a satisfactory level," said First Sgt. Vernon E. Derby, battery first sergeant, India Battery, 3/12, RCT-2, 1st MARDIV.
Engineers have built a new mess hall and bathroom facilities within the dangers of a front line base which receives indirect fire almost daily.
The mission of the combat engineers is not only to improve the living conditions, but also to improve the FOB’s security.
"We’re out here improving the FOB for the front lines," said Sgt. Kevin N. Houser, 2nd squad leader, from 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, 9th ESB, 1st MLG (FWD). "These are the guys who need it the most. What we are doing not only makes the FOB more comfortable, but we are also making it safer for the guys who are here."
The 3/12 Marines in this area are working tirelessly against the Taliban to secure a crucial part of real estate in Afghanistan, the Kajaki Dam, which is responsible for providing electricity to thousands of Afghan homes in Helmand and Kandahar provinces.
The improvements the Marines are adding to FOB Zeebrugge are meant to last. The additions will not only increase the morale and security for the Marines of India Battery, but any service member who steps foot onto the base in the future.
"The work they do now won’t just help us, but any follow-on unit will already have this place set up and working properly," said Gunnery Sgt. David L. Pruden, battery gunnery sergeant, India Battery, 3/12, RCT-2, 1st MARDIV.
Upon their arrival, Sept. 2, Engineers from 9th ESB quickly got to work and left a lasting impression on the Marines of India Battery.
"They have functioned independently and have exceeded our expectations," said Derby, 36, Melbourne Fla., on the Marines of 9th ESB