Marines with Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion and Bridge Co. B, 6th ESB conducted integrated training with U.S. Army 814th Multi-Roll Bridge Company during Exercise River Assault on Fort Chaffee, Arkansas July 19.
The Marines spent two weeks operating Mk3 bridge erection boats, working with the Improved Ribbon Bridges, and connecting the bridges to construct a continuous span of IRBs. This prepared them for the final exercise which was continuous span across the Arkansas River.
"We are conducting this training to develop our Military Occupational Specialty proficiency," said 1st Lt. Kendall Brennan, a crossing site commander with 6th ESB. "We used attachments with 8th ESB’s boat mechanics and their radio operators to support communications throughout the operation. Overall, they taught us how they conduct bridging operations. This allowed my Marines more time behind the wheel and more raft commanding with our operations to continue on with further operations."
While the Marines unloaded and prepped IRBs in the water, the 814th was upstream putting their section of the continuous span together. The two branches worked together at guiding and matching up the final IRB to complete the continuous IRB spanning across the Arkansas River.
"Our IRBs are extremely versatile," said Cpl. Adam Gilliam, a raft commander with Bridge Co., 8th ESB. "They can carry anything from an M1A1 Abrams to an M88 armored recovery vehicle. We can put multiple IRBs together and span any wet gap crossing. They have proved vital to a lot of military movements especially when it comes to water obstacles."
To cap off the final exercise, structural integrity of the continuous span was tested by moving a vehicle convoy across the bridge.
"Everything went smooth. The biggest challenge was locking on our scheme of maneuver and coordinating with some of the Army elements, said Brennan. "So when it came for game time at 2 o’clock in the morning, everyone knew what their job was, and they got it done."