By Jason RobinsonAugust 5, 2014
WEST THOMPSON LAKE, Conn. Aug. 5, 2014) -- The 250th Multi-Role Bridge Company of the Connecticut Army National Guard arrived at West Thompson Lake here, June 15, to begin three days of their annual training.
This was a chance for the Soldiers of the 250th to get some real "stick time" on their Bridge Erection Boats, and practice their driving skills moving equipment around in a real-world environment.
The Bridge Erection Boat, or BEB, is a crucial piece of equipment for the 250th, when it comes to constructing bridges. The BEB is a powerful, highly maneuverable 27-foot jet boat that can operate in water as shallow as three feet deep. Deploying Improved Ribbon Bridge sections, known as IRBs, into West Thompson Lake, the Soldiers used several BEBs to connect four bridge sections to construct a raft to float vehicles across the lake.
On the other side of the lake, waiting for them, also on an annual training period, was the 192nd Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment, also of the Connecticut Army National Guard, acting as an opposition force. Upon the arrival of the raft and vehicles, the opposition force ambushed the 250th, using artillery and grenade simulators, small arms and light machine guns. After the battle was over, the 250th regrouped and continued on with the mission.
On June 16 and 17, they were on the water from 5:30 a.m., until 9 p.m., deploying and recovering boats and bridge sections to gain proficiency in these tasks, should they be called upon for future emergencies or combat missions.
The Soldiers of the 250th not only trained on the Bridge Erection Boats, this training event also gave their truck drivers and maintenance staff a chance to practice moving and working on the equipment on land. They practiced with multiple versions of Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks. They had a version with an Improved Boat Cradle, which is a special carrier for launching and retrieving the BEBs, as well as a version with a Common Bridge Transporter for deploying and recovering the bridge sections.
They also brought several Humvees, and Light Medium Tactical Vehicles, which are the replacement for the old 2.5 ton "duce-and-a-half" trucks. This driver training is essential to their mission, and the land around West Thompson Lake gave them a chance to experience varying terrain, from pavement to dirt road, from grassy fields to muddy shorelines.
Although West Thompson Lake stayed open, the areas where the 250th MRBC and the 192nd Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment used for training were closed. For public safety, the Connecticut Army National Guard posted guards to divert people to areas of the project that were available to them during the training exercise.
The 192nd Headquarters & Headquarters Detachment came to West Thompson Lake to practice advanced warrior tasks. Besides providing support and the opposition force for the 250th MRBC, they set up communication sites in their multiple areas of operation on both sides of the lake, as well as a refueling station at the boat ramp, and some new pop-up tent systems complete with air conditioning units.
Training at West Thompson Lake is not new to the Connecticut Army National Guard. When they were stationed in Putnam, the 250th MRBC trained there, near an Army Corps of Engineers project, in 2005 and 2006. The coordination of the training exercise between the Connecticut Army National Guard and the Corps of Engineers' New England District, is in keeping with the Chief of Engineers' Campaign Goal for the Corps of Engineers: Support National Security.