In Ninewa Province Near Syrian Border Obstacle Built to Help Prevent Smuggling and Counter Violent Extremist Groups-Hawaii Soldiers in the Middle East Series

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    Contingency Operating Site Marez – Maintaining the security of Iraq and its borders is a priority for the Government of Iraq. U.S. Forces are aiding in the process by building an anti-vehicular ditch and berm that will prevent anti-Iraqi Forces from entering into western Iraq. Behind the project are members of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 130th Engineer Brigade.

    “We’re building the berm to stop smuggling from Syria into Iraq,” said Capt. Sean Hill, the Forward Support Company Commander.


    “Whether its weapons or cigarettes, this obstacle will play a big role in stopping the smuggling,” said Capt. Hill.

    Soldiers are working long hours, sacrificing regular showers, rest and communicating with Families back home.

    “I’m having a good time pushing dirt,” said Spc. John Cunningham a bulldozer operator with 3rd platoon, 573rd Engineer Company, “I’m just excited to get a shower soon,” he added.

    Specialist Cunningham said he understands the importance of the anti-vehicular ditch and berm, and he is enthusiastic about being part of a historical project that will improve the country of Iraq.

    “It’s cold but everyone is together, and keeps a good attitude about it. These guys are working hard and I’m really proud of them,” said Sgt. First Class Sean Mattenson the noncommissioned officer in charge of the FSC.

    Iraqi Security Forces designed and mapped the location of the obstacle and requested U.S. forces assist the 3rd Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiment to build it. Many factors were taken into consideration including towns, villages, and farmland near the construction site.

    Being a major wheat and barley producing area for Iraq, bypassing farm fields is a must said Sgt. 1st Class Mattenson. Relationships between the local populace and troops have been good so far. Mainly both sides keep to themselves because of the respect troops have shown the local people, said Sgt. 1st Class Mattenson.

    The anti-vehicular ditch and berm will be protected by Iraqi forces.

    ‘Pfc. Jennifer L. Lowes is with the 130th Engineer Brigade’