TRZEBIEN, Poland -- Combat Engineers with 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division successfully deployed an M60 Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge system and crossed an 85-class bridge as part of a day of breach training they conducted at a range near Camp Trzebien, Poland May 22, 2019.
The bridge system was used to cross a tank ditch, which would be too wide and deep to cross without the bridge system deployed. For the combat engineers, this is referred to as a trench breach. Practice deploying and crossing this type of bridge is an essential part of the readiness mission of the 1st Engineer Battalion. The 1st Engineers were joined by units with the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armored Regiment for the day's training.
"Today's training was to allow other elements to see how an actual tank ditch breach with an AVLB is done," said Spc. Wess Frentz, a combat engineer and team leader with Bravo Company, 1st Eng. Bat. "It allows the Soldiers to get some training time actually crossing over the bridge and learning how to do it efficiently and safely."
This was the first time that this particular bridge system, designed to allow large tracked vehicles such as the M1 Abrams Tank and the Bradley Fight Vehicle to cross trenches safely, had been deployed by this unit. Frentz was positioned on the bridge to guide the tracked vehicles across.
"The bridge is a brigade level asset and because of how unpredictable it can be, most haven't seen it deployed or crossed over it," said Pfc. Dogacan Williams, a combat engineer with Bravo Company, 1st Eng. Bat. "Doing training like this, even if it's not a real combat zone, helps the Soldiers get that mindset and have that knowledge for future operations." Williams operated the AVLB and deployed the bridge.
As an operator, Williams explained that he operated five different hydraulic valves located in front of the driver's seat of the AVLB to lay out different portions of the bridge simultaneously in a fluid motion. Williams stated that being able to successfully deploy the bridge and pick it up again was a big achievement for the 1st Eng. Bat. and the 1st ABCT.
"The amount of time it takes us to efficiently and safely lay the bridge out, get assets across and retrieve the bridge is essential to know," said Frentz. "It gives the brigade an idea of how fast we can effectively execute the mission to complete the breach and get assaulting forces through."
The success of this trench breach demonstrated the 1st Engineer's lethality in the field and their effectiveness as a breaching asset during Atlantic Resolve and in future operations.