Seabee Commander Praises His Troops

Captain Brian Kelm says the Seabees are busy supporting the advancing combat troops.

The commander of the Gulfport base says at last report, all Seabees are safe. They're also very active, building roads and bridges and helping keep a growing supply line flowing to the front lines.

The Seabees are also leveling Iraqi earthen berms, so advancing Marines can have a clear view of the enemy.

Thousands of deployed Seabees are drawing upon months of training. But this time, it's the real thing.

"They're doing great things. Keeping roads open. Keeping supply routes open. Building ammunition storage points. Doing bridging. All the things the Marines need to keep the flow of food and fuel and ammunition going to the front," said Seabee Base commander, Captain Brian Kelm.

This veteran of the first Gulf War is mighty proud of what the Seabees are accomplishing in this military campaign. Advancing Marines rely on the Seabees for construction support and so much more.

"They're very important assets to the Marines. They do many things. They're trained construction men. They've knocked down berms to actually aid the Marines getting through in the initial assault," said Captain Kelm.

Seabees build and fight. They're among the most heavily armed support troop units in the military. Commander Kelm says training at Camp Shelby is paying off on the battlefield. Seabees trained for surviving chemical attacks and practiced Iraqi surrender scenarios.

"Look for weapons, look for things, so they can make the decision whether these are actually people who are surrendering or are they potential terrorists?," said Kelm.

Captain Kelm is doing his best to keep spouses and family members of deployed Seabees updated with the latest information. He met with a group of two hundred at the base chapel for a two hour briefing Tuesday night.

"I told them that right now our Seabees are all okay. As of the last word, they're all doing fine. But I can't guarantee that. I want them to know that they're well led. They're well trained," said Captain Kelm.

He told family members to live their lives and not get too wrapped up in the continuous TV coverage of the war.

As for his assessment of the war, he's encouraged.

"I'm very happy where we're going. I think there's a good plan. It's being executed well. And we're moving ahead. And we will be victorious," he said.

More Gulfport based Seabees are getting ready for deployment. A group from NMCB 7 is scheduled to leave early Friday morning.