By lst Lt. Victor Penedo (Fort Leonard Wood)August 20, 2015
More than 100 Soldiers of Fort Leonard Wood's 50th Multi Role Bridge Company, 5th Engineer Battalion, assembled an Improved Ribbon Bridge, spanning 142 meters, across the waters of Training Area 250, during Operation Moses held Aug. 12.
The unit's first and second platoons conducted night-rafting operations before the final phase of constructing the bridge, which incorporated new Soldiers into their sections, as they operated and worked under limited-visibility conditions.
Working under limited visibility emphasized Soldiers' communication, proper operating procedures and slow-controlled movements during the rafting operations.
"I personally feel that Operation Moses truly helped new Soldiers adjust to the way we do things in the second platoon," said Pfc. Alexander Marroquin, boat operator, and a native of Ocala, Florida. "It also helped Soldiers who have been here for a while touch up on their skills."
According to Spc. LaBradford Hawkins, bridge crewmember, and native of Alexander City, Alabama, "Creating a better company requires teamwork and discipline."
"The accomplishment of the reverse-cycle training, leading up to the full closure, has built cohesiveness with the 50th MRBC," Hawkins added.
The full closure across TA 250 was the culminating event for Operation Moses. Soldiers said they felt prepared, trained and confident for the full closure exercise and executed their tasks efficiently as a result of the previous week's rafting-operations training.
"Training leading up to the full closure was very good. We have trained during the day and night, which prepares us for the mission at any time," said Sgt. Franklin Boucherie, bridge crew chief, who hails from Belleville, Illinois.
This is the second full closure that 50th MRBC has conducted in a year involving countless hours of planning and training that has prepared Soldiers for missions they may one day face abroad.
"During the operations, I definitely saw a lot of heart," said Pfc. Devon Strange, bridge crewmember, and a native of Alexandria, Kentucky.
"New Soldiers were getting some training and, once everybody got a feel for it, we went to work," Strange added.
Operation Moses' purpose was to train new Soldiers on the art of wet-gap river crossings.
IRBs allow for crossing rivers, lakes or other bodies of water, in the absence of a means of crossing or in the event of an unreliable/damaged permanent bridge.
With an infinite maximum span and its sections or "bays" each measuring approximately 22 feet long, the IRB plays a key role in a more scalable, flexible, expeditionary, capable future force.
The complete bridge can be emplaced within 90 minutes, unfolding to create a floating configuration supporting various load classifications.
Ribbon bridges are capable of supporting heavy military vehicles, such as troop carriers or tanks.
For centuries, armies have used river crossings to defeat tribes, cities and nations. Alexander the Great defeated the Indian King Porus and his army in the Battle of the Hydaspes River in 326 B.C.
In 55 B.C., Julius Caesar crossed his army of 40,000 over the Rhine into Germania, and Gen. George Patton Jr. crossed his Third Army over the same river 1,895 years later, during World War II.