News: Combat engineers build bridge, increase capabilities
Story by Lance Cpl. Jose Lujano
CAMP HANSEN, Japan - To reach their objective, squads of Marines prepare to traverse a dangerous water crossing using a man-made bridge. As they move across the bridge, they can feel confident knowing that combat engineers spent long hours preparing for this crucial moment.
Combat engineers with 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, assembled a medium-girder bridge May 30 at Camp Hansen in preparation to support exercises and real-world contingencies.
The purpose of the training was to hone bridge-assembly skills and increase the capabilities of the battalion’s newest combat engineers to provide tactical movement within an operational environment.
The junior Marines must be ready to deploy and be confident to perform their job at an exemplary level, according to Sgt. Joseph W. Manning, a combat engineer with the battalion.
“For this training, we gathered the newest combat engineers to construct their largest bridge to date,” said Manning.
An MGB is a lightweight, man-portable bridge that is assembled without help from heavy equipment and can support up to two tons of weight.
The assembly of an MGB is like building blocks with the biggest difference being that a single MGB part needs to be carried by a minimum of four Marines, according to Lance Cpl. Andrew T. Boling, a combat engineer with the battalion.
“We connected the bridge part-by-part, starting with the front ramps to one of the bankseat beams, used to keep the bridge girders properly spaced, and then we added several panels all the way to the second bankseat beam,” said Boling. “Once we finished, we connected the back ramps to complete the bridge.”
Their coordination was directed through commands such as “lay hold” and “heave,” according to Boling. On the command “lay hold,” the Marines prepared to lift the part and when issued the command “heave,” they would simultaneously lift the equipment.
“It is important to coordinate carefully for safety purposes,” said Boling. “The pieces of the bridge are heavy, and the teamwork prevents a Marine from injuring their back by attempting to carry it alone.”
While the bridge’s parts are heavy and the task may seem daunting, it is vital to train on its successful construction and assembly, according to Boling.
The primary use of an MGB is to provide accessibility and mobility to ground forces.
“This bridge is frequently used in a deployed setting and needs about 10-20 combat engineers to construct it,” said Lance Cpl. Matthew E. Oldham, a combat engineer with the battalion. “The more familiar you are with the MGB, the more comfortable you become with constructing it in more challenging settings.”
Not only is it important to become comfortable with the MGB’s components and tools, but it is important to work as a team to get the bridge assembled rapidly so ground forces can accomplish their mission, according to Oldham.
Maintaining valuable and perishable skills is imperative for mission success as Marines work together assembling the MGB, according to Boling.
“At our military occupational specialty school, we only have one opportunity to hone detailed aspects in our bridge-building skills,” said Boling. “Being able to participate in this training is key to keeping our skills sharp. We never know when we will have to put what we learned to the test.”
Whether providing ground or logistics combat elements accessibility and mobility through MGBs, or other related tasks, the combat engineers understand that only through continuous training can operational readiness be maintained.
“As combat engineers, we have a mission to accomplish, and we are well aware that other Marines depend on us,” said Manning. “Therefore, we cannot be unprepared.
“The success of our job is important to carrying out the overall Marine Corps mission.”