By Terri Rorke
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
SACRAMENTO, Calif.– If you visited Black Butte Lake recently, you may have noticed a stir of green-suited boaters on the water. California Army National Guard members of the 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company (MRBC), based out of Redding, California, conducted drill training at the Corps recreation area site Sept. 17 and exercised their unique skillset—bridging gaps.
“The mission for the 132nd is to build dry-gap bridges as well as wet-gap bridges which allow for freedom of maneuver for friendly forces,” said 132nd MRBC Commander Capt. Kevin Aguirre. “As bridge builders, our Soldiers get to see the fruits of their labor take shape in the form of a bridge each and every time we train.”
The company's recent training at Black Butte Lake focused on building wet-gap bridges, or ‘Improved Ribbon Bridges’, which are used in a variety of catastrophic situations in California. The company uses the floating bridges for access across flooded waters and to wildfire sites otherwise inaccessible in a timely manner. In addition, the 132nd MRBC often used their unique bridging skills during a past Afghanistan deployment.
“By making our facilities available for training exercises, the local Army National Guard and Army Reserve units spend more time improving their combat engineer skills, and less time driving to distant training areas,” said Sacramento District Commander Col. David Ray, who also participated in the Sept. 17 training at Black Butte Lake. In a previous command role with the 19th Engineer Battalion, based out of Fort Knox, Kentucky, Ray oversaw training of the 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company there.
“I was impressed by the professionalism and proficiency of the 132d MRBC. They demonstrated levels of expertise in boat and rafting operations comparable to my active duty company,” Ray added.
Check out photos from the September 17 bridge build:
132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company Soldiers convoy into Black Butte Lake recreation area to begin their drill weekend training.
USACE Sacramento District Commander Col. David Ray (far right) introduced himself to 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company Soldiers at
Black Butte Lake near Orland, California.
132nd MRBC Soldiers launch a safety boat.
132nd MRBC Soldiers launch bays to assemble an Improved Ribbon Bridge.
Soldiers watch as a bay flattens into place.
Let's see that in action.
Sacramento District Commander Col. David Ray (right) assists the 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company Soldiers. In a previous command
role, Ray oversaw training of the 502nd Multi-Role Bridge Company, based out of Fort Knox, Kentucky.
It's all about teamwork...
...and ingenuity. 'Make a wake!' At one point during their drill, Soldiers needed to create a wake in order to unlock and flatten one
of the bays.
Next thing you know, an Improved Ribbon Bridge is built.
These floating bridges, or Improved Ribbon Bridges, are used in a variety of catastrophic situations.
"The mission set allows for a sense of accomplishment for our Soldiers. The Soldiers of the 132nd MRBC leave drill knowing that they
are more than capable of performing their duties to standard if the state or nation calls upon us," said Capt. Kevin Aquirre,
132nd MRBC commander.
Is it a submarine? A floating dock? The completed five-bay Improved Ribbon Bridge floats on Black Butte Lake. At a maximum of
10 bays, the Improved Ribbon Bridge can reach up to 264 feet and can hold up to 70 tons, enough to support an M1A1 Abrams tank.
And the gap is bridged.