Army engineers assist ISF with security checkpoint improvements
Engineer soldiers roll out of Camp Warrior to an unfinished checkpoint near Kirkuk. The surrounding area is hilly and treacherous, but after a week or two of excavating, grading, dirt moving and compacting, this particular plot of land is almost ready for construction.
Soldiers of the 617th Engineer Support Company are assisting the Iraqi Security Forces by building up and improving the security at combined checkpoints to ensure they are fully prepared to protect the area's residents.
“We are helping the Iraqi forces upgrade their force protection measures, as well as helping with drainage and mobility in and around the checkpoint,” said Capt. Erin Kennedy, commander of the 617th ESC, 724th Engineer Battalion, 36th Engineer Brigade.
“The Iraqi forces were out in the open at first and they were receiving pot-shots and frequent sniper fire,” said Pvt. Chris Surtees, a heavy equipment operator for the 617th ESC. “Now, they have protection when under fire and somewhere to stay when they’re not working.”
With guidance from Kennedy, design of the checkpoint is determined by the soldiers of the 617th.
“The soldiers come out here with guidelines in place and use ingenuity and engineering spirit to determine the basic layout of the checkpoint,” said Kennedy.
The 617th ESC has improved three checkpoints since they began their mission in July.
Surtees said it takes more than a week to finish a checkpoint, depending on the terrain, and how often they are able to work full days. When not working on the checkpoints, the 617th is repairing craters in roads made by IED's, replacing and repairing culverts and improving water drainage at various bases.
After the work on the checkpoint is finished, it will be turned over to the Iraqi police or army, said Pfc. Brandon Moore, a heavy equipment operator for the 617th ESC.
The 617th ESC is scheduled to upgrade nine checkpoints during their year-long deployment.
Article by Spc. Joseph Vine, 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment