Fighting in Fallouja, Iraq, has heightened in the past two weeks, becoming more deadly for American soldiers and government contractors. To help thwart rebel attacks, bulldozers have been brought in to construct an earthen barrier around the city.
For the servicemen, as well as many supportive Iraqis, the sound of the equipment is a sign of a possible, if temporary, peace. The barrier will help the Marines restrict the flow of people and cars in and out of the city and hopefully reduce the number of casualties.
While many of the bulldozers are the same models used on construction sites in the United States, some have been modified with iron protective gear. The iron-clad bulldozers, which were specially built for dangerous military operations, protect the machine’s operator from gunfire.
“It’s just a massive, mean-looking bulldozer,” Marine Lt. Paul Krumenacker told the Los Angeles Times.
To protect the construction crews and the un-modified bulldozers, Marines stand guard nearby with their .50-caliber machine guns aimed.
While some government contractors operate the bulldozers, Marine combat engineers and Army soldiers also drive the machines. According to Marine Chief Warrant Officer Wayne Duree, the Marines had extended experience working with the construction equipment during the first few months of reconstruction in Baghdad, when the rebuilding of roads and bridges was vital to operations.