The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 26, 2014

Engineer company conducts final full-bridge build

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Soldiers from the 362nd Multi-Role Bridge Company, 11th Engineer Battalion, came together Thursday at Engineer Landing to conduct what could be the final training exercise of its kind on Fort Benning.

The company constructed a 180-meter assault float bridge that spanned the width of the Chattahoochee River before clearing the bridge for traffic.

The company is scheduled to deactivate in September, and with the resource-heavy nature of the exercise, another full-length bridge construction is not planned.

Company commander Capt. Jeremiah Stache said the bridge build was being conducted in order to ensure that the Engineers of the 362nd would be well prepared for future assignments.

"I want the guys who continue on, whether they go to another MRBC or whatever it may be, to leave this company as well-trained as possible," Stache said. "So, leaving this company with this culminating training event under their belt is huge. I want them to have a legacy they can be proud of.

"We've expanded the scope of what is normally done by adding the aviation aspect. We've also expanded the footprint of what we do by staging operations over a couple of miles. This is something these guys can carry on to whatever unit they're in next and be able to offer their insight on how we did it here."

Stache said the MRBC helps to enable movement toward mission objectives during combat.

"If a brigade combat team needs to move from this side of the shore to the other side of the shore where their objective is, the multi-role bridge company will be called down from corps level to cross multiple sites for that brigade combat team," he said. The bridge was constructed using sections of improved ribbon bridge.

Four sections were airlifted into the river by CH-47 Chinook helicopters, as were two bridge erection boats.

Those two boats, along with others already in place, were used to push the four airlifted pieces and other pieces delivered via truck into place while other engineers completed the connections.

Once the connections were in place, a pair of engineers examined the bridge to declare it fit for traffic.

When the 362nd deactivates in September, that will leave the Army with only four active bridge companies.

However, Stache said smaller numbers will not lead to a decrease in capabilities.

"Because it is a small community, these guys are skilled experts at what they do," he said. "There's such a small number of them that these guys take a large amount of pride in what they do. ... Wet gap crossing is only part of what MRBCs do. They can also conduct dry-gap crossing and disable a bridge that's damaged. They have a lot of skills that they can provide to the Army."

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