SEPTEMBER 13, 2016, FORT KNOX, Ky. – Soldiers with the Kentucky Army National Guard’s 2061st Multi-role Bridge Company recently took part in operational testing of the new XM30 Bridge Erection Boat, which is scheduled to replace the 30-year-old MK II BEB used during bridging operations across rivers and other bodies of water.
The Soldiers from the 2061st MRBC joined Soldiers of the 502nd MRBC, based at Fort Knox, in testing the new boat on the Ohio River.
The aim of the testing was to provide data on the operational effectiveness of the boat in support of full production and fielding to units as part of Army modernization plans, said Army Maj. Mattii S. Minor, the BEB test officer with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command.
Over five test days BEB crewmembers provided input to data collectors on how well the boat met the needs of their mission.
“Taking part was a great opportunity,” said 1st Sgt. Aaron T. Lester, first sergeant of the 2061st MRBC.
The operational test gave Soldiers of the two units a chance to polish their bridging skills, which included constructing a seven-float ribbon bridge to ferry equipment across a water gap, and a full enclosure, where the Soldiers put the bridge sections in the water in the form of a raft and move them from one shore to another, said Lester.
The training and testing was done with combat situations in mind.
“The speed and the pace at which we built the raft was in close approximation to what we would do in a conflict scenario,” said Army 1st Lt. Aleksandrs V. Schuler. “The boat allows us to maneuver the bridge bays as necessary to complete the mission.”
Being involved in the testing process was a new experience for many of the Soldiers.
“We actually got to see what the testing process looks like,” said Schuler. “We always get equipment in our unit, but we hardly ever question what kind of vetting process it goes through before it gets to our hands.”
This was a unique opportunity to be on the other side of that equation, he said.
“We were glad to be able to offer our feedback, especially because it will affect bridge crewmembers over the next several decades,” said Schuler.