By Spc. Matthew A. Thompson
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
JOINT MULTINATIONAL READINESS CENTER, Germany – The purpose of the American, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Armies Program interoperability test is to bridge gaps. The Royal Engineers with 1st Battalion, Welsh Guards took that idea literally and built a physical bridge at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center Germany, Sept. 23, 2008, during Cooperative Spirit 2008.
The Soldiers competed to beat their best times. Cheering spectators on the side motivated the Soldiers to build faster and beat their best time.
The sappers tested their skills with timed runs for setting up a medium girder bridge.
Their first time out they erected it to a standard training time of less than thirty minutes. By their second time, they knocked the time down to less than sixteen minutes. As a challenge to themselves, the Brits pushed it hard, and by their third time out they put the bridge together in less than fifteen minutes.
Lt. Will Taylor, the troop commander with 3 Troop Royal Engineers, 11 Field Squadron said, "If we're called upon to do this task, we can do it really efficiently and perform well for the battle group."
Taylor said this was an excellent training opportunity for everyone as it gave the section commander a good chance to represent his command and each engineer had his own goal to reach.
The section commander with 11 Field Squadron, 3 Royal Engineer Regiment, Cpl. Calum Moson, shouted encouragement to his troops as they ran back and forth from the stacks of material to the assembled pieces.
"As the section commander, I have to pay attention to both sides of the bridge and watch for any health concerns," Moson said.
All of the ABCA nations represented here use the medium girder bridge during missions while deployed and for training.
The medium girder bridge serves many purposes on the battlefield whether it is bridging ravines, battle group crossings or reinforcing roads that may not be able to support heavy military vehicles. The single story bridge spans a distance of nine meters long and can be assembled by a group of 9-17 soldiers.
"We're looking forward to working with the other nations here, providing our engineer close support during the field training exercise," Taylor said.
Exhausted with sweat pouring off their brows, the team of engineers stumbled to get some water and juice to drink. After a short rest, the ten teammates and the other ten sappers began to disassemble the bridge.