American Forces Press Service
Jan. 29, 2009 - U.S. Marines with Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Afghanistan cleared a route between two Afghan districts, aiming to improve safety and encourage commerce in the area. Operation Gateway III involved the clearing of Route 515, a 26-mile stretch of road between the Delaram and Bakwa district centers in Afghanistan's Farah province.
Marines from the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, and Combat Logistics Battalion 3, the ground and logistics combat elements of the task force, completed the project Jan. 26.
"By opening Route 515, we will decrease travel time for alliance forces, as well as enable civilian goods that are vital to the community to pass through the area with less resistance," Marine Corps Lt. Col. David L. Odom, commanding officer for 3rd Battalion, said. "The clearing of the route will also open the lines of communication between the two major district centers."
As they cleared the route, the Marines encountered nearly 30 homemade bomb-related incidents. To ensure security, Marines and Afghan National Army soldiers conducted joint patrols, and Marines from Combat Logistics Battalion 3 constructed three combat outposts along the route, officials said.
AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters from Marine Light/Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 provided fire support for the Marines and Afghan soldiers while Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 466 airlifted construction materials weighing more than 95,000 pounds to the outposts' locations.
In Delaram district, the improved security yielded quick results for Afghan villagers. Dozens of villagers dug irrigation ditches along the route, ensuring local crop fields have sufficient water and increasing their output.
"The Afghan people will benefit directly from what we did here," Marine Corps Col. Duffy W. White, task force commander, said. "But our work is not yet done. We must continue to patrol this area with our Afghan partners to make sure they are not endangered by insurgent attacks."
(From an International Security Assistance Force news release.)