According to Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 3-90, Offense and Defense, “Wet gap crossings are among the most complex combined arms operations friendly forces can encounter.”
To prepare for the challenges of these crossings, the 497th Multi-Role Bridge Company (MRBC), 92nd Engineer Battalion, conducted wet gap crossing training on Fort Stewart, Georgia, Sept. 22, 2022. This training consisted of building bridges across a body of water to allow for the movement of troops, light and heavy vehicles, and supplies.
The company started the training by deploying equipment, which included M30 Bridge Erection Boats (BEB), into one of the lakes on Fort Stewart. The boats move individual sections of floating bridges called bays, and ramps for either end of the bridge.
The BEBs used ropes to capture the bays and maneuver them to create an array of bridges and rafts. The company used an enclosed version of a wet gap crossing, meaning both sides of the bridge were completely secured in place. The bridge was held together tightly enough to allow for the crossing of a Bradley Fighting Vehicle provided by the 9th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“Training like this makes our operators more proficient,” said Capt. Anthony Grady, the commander of 497th MRBC. “So getting more repetitions and getting more training just allows us to perfect our craft, and execute better and better operations.”
The 497th MRBC stood up about a year ago and is composed mostly of bridge crewmembers who operate the BEBs and secure the bridges together.
“I saw a lot of new skills and a lot of progression,” said Sgt. 1st Class Joaquin Suero, a platoon sergeant with 497th MRBC. “This is a big milestone.”
Suero said getting to this point took a lot of training and preparation, and that his Soldiers have spent a lot of time getting ready for this day.
“This is the fun part where people get to see what they accomplished, because in a lot of jobs you do the work on a regular basis but you don't see the product, but here you can see what you did and actually built with your own hands,” Suero said.
Training like this prepares the 497th MRBC for real-world scenarios they might encounter in large scale combat operations with a focus on assured mobility in a variety of challenging conditions.
To support the Army’s purpose to deploy, fight and win its nation’s wars by providing ready, prompt and sustained land dominance requires the use of advanced techniques and problem-solving. It’s essential to plan for something as simple as a body of water, which could possibly put a mission in jeopardy.