By Sgt. Catherine Graham, 890th Eng. Bn., 225th Eng. Bde., MND-BFebruary 11, 2009
BAGHDAD - For the 890th Engineer Battalion, 225th Eng. Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, supporting the counterinsurgency efforts with route clearance is not the only skill that they brought with them to Iraq.
The National Guard unit from Gulfport, Miss., supported the lower Mississippi delta with hurricane relief since their inception in 1953. Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating hurricanes in history, gave them extensive experience of restoring the environment after a disaster.
So when 890th Eng. Bn. was tasked to perform route clearance this deployment; not restoration, it collaborated with the 46th Engineer Battalion, a sister battalion tasked with construction, to create joint-route sanitation missions.
"Route sanitation is integral to our mission as a whole. It is the primary objective of the 890th (Eng. Bn.) to remove opportunities for enemy exploitation," said Maj. Rick Weaver, operations officer for the 890th Eng. Bn. "We have been successful in the area by removing threats and the conditions that favor IED emplacement."
It was the vision that route clearance and route sanitation should go hand in hand to support the same outcome. While route clearance removes the improvised explosive device threat for Coalition Forces and the community, route sanitation or cleaning the rubbish from the streets and medians, help remove material that can be used as concealment for roadside bombs. Both activities lessen the effectiveness of terrorists in Baghdad and improve the conditions of Iraqi communities.
On average, the 890th Eng. Bn. conducts four cooperative sanitation missions a week with construction assets from the 46th Eng. Bn. To date, the 890th Eng. Bn. has directed and overseen 72 successful route sanitation missions that help clean up the streets of Baghdad, said Weaver.
"Our efforts can be seen all over the Baghdad area, everyone benefits from the combined missions that our battalion directs. Our Soldiers are proud to be able to support the local government in making the surroundings normal again as we did the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina."