STORKAU, Germany -- U.S., German and Dutch Soldiers combined efforts to conduct a river crossing operation during exercise Heidesturm Shock June 6.
"This is the first time that a U.S. unit and its vehicles are crossing a river on these platforms," said Capt. Anthony Simmons, a maneuver observer controller trainer with the Joint Multinational Readiness Center. "So if we have to cross a river in the future the gap crossing capabilities are there."
Soldiers from the Delta Company "Dark Knights," 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Armor Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division loaded M1 Abrams Tanks and M2 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles onto two separate German M3 Amphibious Bridging Vehicles to transport them across the Elbe River.
"This is a great opportunity for us, because as a brigade combat team, we lack any gap crossing capability," said Lt. Col. Geoff Van Epps, commander of the U.S. Army 10th Engineer Battalion. "So coming here and being able to do that in Germany is a most unique opportunity for us."
A Dutch engineer unit was on hand to deploy the Leguan Bridge Layer System, allowing German and American vehicles to cross the small river which stood between the units and their main objective.
"This is the first time the Leguan system has been used by American forces," said Capt. Arjan Van Ham, commander of the Royal Netherlands Army's 112th Combat Engineer Corps.
The crossing gave participants a better understanding of each country's equipment and procedures.
"We normally train on our own. But when I have the possibility to get contact with U.S. (Soldiers) I learn how they give orders, how they plan exercises and maneuvers. And that helps me to understand how they work for future operations," said Capt. Florian Blank, the amphibious commander of the German Army's 130th Heavy Engineer Battalion.