SEPTEMBER 22, 2023 – Soldiers with the 497th Multi-Role Brigade Company (MRBC) executed training that marked the first time an M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tank crossed a bridged obstacle at Fort Stewart, Georgia, on Sept. 20, 2023.
The training, called a wet gap crossing, required Soldiers to deploy a series of boats and bridges into a body of water while maneuvering them, with precision, to carry tanks across. The training marked a unique event for the 497th MRBC since only one other unit in the Army has performed this task.
“The importance of this training is to just build sets and reps while getting units across the water but primarily validating that the American Army has the capability to get maneuvered to do what it does best, close distances and destroy the enemy,” said U.S. Army Cpt. Joseph Whitley, commander of the 497th MRBC.
The 497th MRBC supports the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart by providing personnel and equipment to transport, assemble, disassemble, retrieve and maintain all standard and nonstandard U.S. Army bridging systems for wet and dry gap crossings.
Their training and expertise ensure the rest of the force can maneuver through different terrains and obstacles which could potentially jeopardize a mission out in the field.
“We’re constantly out there training, whether it’s building, combat water survival training, we’re always doing something to keep us proficient at our job,” said U.S. Army Spc. Catalina Kennedy, who is part of the 497th MRBC bridge crew members.
In a real-world scenario Soldiers are expected to perform the task of building and transporting equipment and vehicles at nighttime with limited visibility and potential enemy fire.
Whitley is confident in the ability of his Soldiers since their training ensures speed and proficiency.
“You do progressively more challenging training, so you start by building smaller rafts, larger rafts, and then eventually you get to full closures, which is spanning from one bank to another, that’s really the peak of training for an MRBC, getting the large crafts together to push that combat power across. This is something that this company specifically trains on and we’re really good at it,” Whitley added.
Story by Pfc. Luciano Alcala
50th Public Affairs Detachment