III Armored Corps learns from history during Remagen Ready

By Lt. Col. Tania DonovanJune 10, 2024

Troopers from 1st Cavalry Division along with the help of 36th Engineer Brigade, 20th Engineer Battalion conduct a wet gap crossing during the Remagen Ready 24-1 exercise on November 3, 2023, at Fort Cavazos, Texas. Remagen Ready 24-1 is an 11-day training exercise focused on Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) with the division as unit of action. LSCO requires team cohesion to properly execute multi-domain operations across warfighting functions.
Troopers from 1st Cavalry Division along with the help of 36th Engineer Brigade, 20th Engineer Battalion conduct a wet gap crossing during the Remagen Ready 24-1 exercise on November 3, 2023, at Fort Cavazos, Texas. Remagen Ready 24-1 is an 11-day training exercise focused on Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO) with the division as unit of action. LSCO requires team cohesion to properly execute multi-domain operations across warfighting functions. (Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Darrell Stembridge) VIEW ORIGINAL

At the Association of the United States Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting, Gen. Randy George, 41st chief of staff of the Army, delivered a speech that highlighted his priorities. George told attendees that he remained focused on the Army’s warfighting mission and training to fight.

“Soldiers need to shoot, move and communicate. They need to bond together by tough training and overcoming adversity, side-by-side,” George said.

In line with these priorities, III Armored Corps executed the largest training exercise at Fort Cavazos since 2020 to assess the readiness its subordinate units have been building upon for the last year. Remagen Ready 24-01 was a blended live and constructive, joint, multi-echelon, division-sized combined arms exercise that included a contested gap crossing.

“The challenge when designing any large exercise is ensuring training value for all participants,” said Lt. Gen. Sean C. Bernabe, III Armored Corps commanding general. “Our team designed Remagen Ready to provide tough, realistic training for all echelons — from company/battery/troop level to the III Armored Corps Headquarters. Kudos to all those who made this exercise possible.”

Understanding the critical elements of this exercise requires understanding its namesake. The Battle of Remagen was an 18-day battle during the Allied invasion of Germany in World War II from March 7 to 25, 1945, in which American forces unexpectedly captured the Ludendorff Bridge over the Rhine River intact. After capturing the Siegfried Line, the 9th Armored Division of the U.S. First Army had advanced unexpectedly quickly towards the Rhine. They were very surprised to see one of the last bridges across the Rhine still standing.

The Germans had wired the bridge with about 6,000 pounds of demolition charges. When they tried to blow it up, only a portion of the explosives detonated. U.S. forces captured the bridge and rapidly expanded their first bridgehead across the Rhine, two weeks before Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s meticulously planned Operation Plunder.

“III Corps had breached Nazi Germany’s last great natural barrier and passed more than 8,000 troops in the first 24 hours,” said Maj. Jonathan Curran, instructor at the Department of History at West Point.

The actions of American Soldiers prevented the Germans from regrouping east of the Rhine and consolidating their positions.

“When the Ludendorff bridge finally collapsed, on 17 March 1945, First Army’s engineers had already constructed three bridges to ensure the allied advance could continue and pass five divisions into the heart of Germany,” Curran said. “This became known as the miracle at Remagen.”

The battle for control of the Ludendorff Bridge caused both the American and German forces to employ new weapons and tactics in combat for the first time. The battle demonstrated the importance of quick action, flexibility and adaptability in warfare. It also highlighted the importance of intelligence, logistics, communication and air superiority to the success of military operations.

The capture of the Ludendorff Bridge was a turning point in the war and helped to shorten the conflict in Europe. The battle is remembered as a testament to the bravery and determination of the Soldiers who fought in it. It is also a reminder of the importance of gap crossings for battlefield success historically and today.

For III Armored Corps, Remagen Ready was an opportunity to build on teams at every echelon, test command and control, build trust in equipment and each other and most importantly, provide a rigorous and challenging training exercise for more than 6,000 Soldiers. The exercise was conducted from Oct. 30 to Nov. 9.

“Remagen Ready gave us the chance to practice combined arms maneuver at full speed and full scale,” Bernabe shared. “It gave us the chance to plan and execute a complex wet gap crossing. It gave brigade, division and the corps headquarters the chance to command and control large formations on the attack. This exercise improved the readiness of the 1st Cavalry Division and the III Armored Corps.”

Remagen Ready brought resources, equipment, firepower and teams together to train on the fundamentals of combat. The units that participated included III Armored Corps, 1st Cavalry Division, 13th Armored Corps Sustainment Command, 36th Engineer Brigade, 504th Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, 89th Military Police Brigade, 75th Field Artillery Brigade, 11th Signal Brigade, 3rd Air Support Operations Group and First Army Division West.

With more than 6,000 Soldiers, major installation directorates involved and strong community support, the exercise was a success. III Armored Corps was able to validate the lethality of Division-sized formations, and the lessons learned from the completion of this exercise will be used to prepare the participants for the challenges of the modern battlefield. The newly-gained confidence of the III Armored Corps teams and Soldiers will allow for the continued improvement of their expertise and mastery of the fundamentals.