FORT CHAFFEE, Ark. (Aug. 10, 2015) — U.S. Army Reserve and active Army engineer units cooperated in constructing a movable bridge across the Arkansas River to create a path for units to cross during Operation River Assault, a training exercise that culminated, Aug. 4.
“The partnership is an advantage. After a persistent conflict [over] the past 14 years, this exercise helps tie together many of the experiences of these units,” said Lt. Col. Jon Brierton, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, battalion commander, 841st Engineer Battalion located in Miami, Florida.
Brierton refers to the proficiency units have earned by these units’ deployments.
“These units’ training here continue that partnership. We don’t know where the next contingency is going to be, but this builds the relationship between the forces,” said Brierton. “There is all kinds of cool and sexy training here to benefit the active duty and reserve Soldiers.”
This event gave the Army Reserve and active units an opportunity to share knowledge and familiarize with each other.
“The cross training here allows the reserves to see how the active unit works. We showed we can work together, and this is a proof in the pudding moment,” said 1st Lt. Nikolas Johnson, commander, 401st Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Coordination for this exercise took place over the past year, bringing together a multitude of units, mostly from the Army Reserve. The bridging event was a partnership of three Army Reserve and one active duty bridging units.
“We are bridging companies, and we do our job. It’s no different. It’s just training with other units and we build bridges,” said Johnson. “Separately, we may have different ways of operating back home, but here on the water we’re taking care of business and building bridges.”
The units did not find many differences as much as they did similarities.
“This gives us the ability to see what the reserve is and observe their techniques. Our training cycles are different but basically we’re able to maneuver our units to an objective,” said Capt. Timothy G. Rhodes, of Tucson, Arizona, commander, 502nd Engineer Company (Multi-role Bridge Company), located at Fort Knox, Kentucky. “I hope to build relationships and continue that relationship for future training and share results.”
For operational effectiveness the collaboration of the two forces will allow for improved synchronization and communication on the battlefield and during training.
“[Ensure] mobility to maneuver and make it to an objective free of concern or without much interferences will show the culmination of future operations and training,” said Rhodes.
River Assault is designed to exercise the unit’s ability to cross a river obstacle. Forces working together serves as a benefit for mission success.
Staff Sgt. Zachary Stinzel, combat engineer with the 401st Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company), said, “This training is a good deal for us. This is what we do (to) get Soldiers out there to get that experience and deployment training for the main mission. Cross training with the active force enhances our practice.”
Soldiers work hard at training, and this involves an abundance of planning just within a unit. A natural byproduct of that is the development of leaders.
“Half of the Soldiers have experience and half haven’t, so some are a bit green,” said Staff Sgt. Wayne Bolen, combat engineer with the 401st. “This gives those Soldiers the experience they don’t get during the month.”
Another benefit of this training exercise is leader development and setting the example.
“Our noncommissioned officers are taking care of the Soldiers and setting the example of what leadership is and what leaders do,” said Col. Ralph Henning, “Morale is very high.”
Johnson added that the Soldiers have been really motivated, and it’s been a good experience for them.