Monday, March 3, 2008

Engineers Remove Temporary Bridge Over Diyala River

A view of the new Rustimiyah land bridge from the old bridge, Feb. 28. Iraqi national police with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st NP Division, secured the old bridge so members of the 74th Engineer Company, from Fort Hood, Texas, stationed at Balad Air Base, could recover the Mabey Johnson bridge, a prefabricated structure covering a large blast hole left from the detonation of a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device last May.

By Staff Sgt. Sean Riley, 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division Public Affairs Office

FORWARD OPERATING BASE HAMMER, Iraq – The rusty remains of a temporary steel bridge were removed from over the Diyala River, Feb. 28, after the opening of the new Rustimiyah Bridge.

The 74th Engineer Company, from Fort Hood, Texas, stationed at Balad Air Base, recovered a prefabricated Mabey Johnson bridge which was elevated several feet above the surface of the old Rustimiyah bridge. The structure was a temporary solution to a hole from a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device blast last May.

In less than a year, the government of Iraq funded and constructed a new land bridge to span the river, connecting Jisr Diyala and Baghdad. It was opened for public use after a ceremony and a parade Feb. 22.

The temporary Mabey Johnson bridge was falling into disrepair from frequent use by citizens and local residents.

Iraqi national police with 3rd Battalion, 3rd Brigade, 1st NP Division, and U.S. Soldiers from Company D, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, currently attached to the 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, provided security while the engineer company removed the bridge.

“The Rustimiyah Bridge site is a prime example of the Iraqi government and security progress made in just one year,” said 1st Lt. Timothy Eng, 3-1st Cav. Regt. squadron engineer, from San Jose, Calif.

The 3/3/1 NP Div. took charge of the security of the bridge with little assistance from members of 3-1st Cav. Regt.

Capt. Damond Davis, from Montgomery, Ala., fire support officer for 3-1st Cav. Regt., was impressed by the professionalism and confidence the NP demonstrated while securing the site.

“Ten months ago, when we worked with the national police, we were constantly coaching,” Davis said. “Now, it feels more like working with a fellow Soldier when we conduct operations with them; they have made great gains.”

The 3/1/1 NP Div., under Col. Emad, has garnered significant public support from the local populace in just one year. Eng said the gains in support are due, in large part, to Col. Emad’s leadership.

“(Col. Emad’s) ability to work with Sons of Iraq leaders has proven to be invaluable to provide the best possible security for the citizens of Iraq,” Eng said.

The NP recently provided security while new Jisr Diyala SoI checkpoints were established, said Eng.

“The Jisr Diyala Joint Security Site enables the NP to work in close quarters with the Sons of Iraq representatives to plan missions and provide immediate assistance to local citizens who come in with their needs,” Eng said. “All of these factors provided a solid foundation to conduct the joint security operations at the Rustimiyah Bridge.”

Company D, 1-15 Inf. Regt., attached to 3-1st Cav. Regt., is assigned to the 3rd HBCT, 3rd Infantry Division, from Fort Benning, Ga., and has been deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom since March 2007.

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