CHELMNO, Poland -- The 361st Engineer Company, an U.S. Army Reserve unit from Warner Robins, Georgia, sharpens its bridge-building skills by constructing an Improved Ribbon Bridge on the Vistula River in Chelmno, Poland, as part of Exercise Anakonda 2016, June 7-17.The IRB can be used as a full span bridge or to ferry vehicles and equipment across a body of water. The U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers are working alongside bridging crews from Germany and the Netherlands, learning how bridge-building procedures are conducted by other militaries.
The bridging crews from multiple nations are cooperating to build bridges not only on the water but also between their militaries.
"There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about the commitment of the United States in the security and stability in Europe," said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. "We have committed a large number of Soldiers and capabilities to include a significant number of our Reserve component Soldiers and our National Guard Soldiers from the States to participate in this exercise. So, in other words, the whole army is involved in Anakonda."
Sgt. 1st Class Martin Durst, a U.S. Army Reserve Soldier with the 549th Engineer Bridge Company, who is cross training with the 361st, said this training opportunity offers him experience not easily obtained in home station.
"I haven't seen this in 26 years in the military," explained Durst. "I'm looking forward to taking all this bridging equipment and put it all together because, from the Army Reserve side, this is something that we never get to do. That's a huge motivator and I'm hoping we get to do this more moving forward."
Durst said the scheduling of events of Exercise Anakonda 2016 and communication from higher headquarters has made the mission go smoothly, considering that there were many moving parts between equipment, personnel and coordination with the other Allied nations.
Exercise Anakonda 2016 is a Polish-led, multinational exercise involving more than 31,000 participants from more than 20 nations. Exercise Anakonda 2016 is a premier training event for U.S. Army Europe and participating nations.
"That has all been arranged at the senior officer level and filtered down through our chain of command," said Durst. "Before we even arrive out here to do the work, we know where we need to be, who we need to work with and every day's mission is conducted the same way."
Bringing together land forces from more than 20 different nations to train together as one military demonstrates that the United States and its partners are ready for and capable of dealing with any contingency.