No Bridge? No Problem. National Guard Soldiers Bring the Solution

Visitors to Sacramento District’s Black Butte Dam and Lake in Orland, California, had the opportunity to catch more than fish and scenic lake views from April 29-May 3. On one stretch of lake, visitors also caught a glimpse of how the California Army National Guard can create a floating, mobile bridge in a matter of minutes.

The California Army National Guard holds its annual training at Black Butte Lake over the week of April 29 – May 3. The 132nd Engineering Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company) out of Redding, California, dropped by Black Butte Lake for their weeklong annual training exercise to keep soldiers sharp on how to assemble and disassemble IRB’s – Improved Ribbon Bridges – in order to rapidly move soldiers, vehicles and equipment across lakes and rivers.
USACE PHOTO BY JOSPEH BRUTON

The 132nd Multi-Role Bridge Company out of Redding, California, dropped by for their weeklong annual training exercise to keep Soldiers sharp on how to assemble and disassemble IRB’s – Improved Ribbon Bridges – in order to rapidly move Soldiers, vehicles and equipment across lakes and rivers. Officially known as wet gap-crossing operations, the team of Soldiers create a floating bridge made up of interlocking sections that are latched together. The IRB system offers two capabilities for crossing bodies of water: one is to create a floating bridge and drive or walk across it, and the other is to load it with tracked or wheeled combat or tactical vehicles and then ferry it around a lake or river using small but powerful Bridge Erection Boats to position it.

The California Army National Guard holds its annual training at Black Butte Lake over the week of April 29 – May 3. The 132nd Engineering Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company) out of Redding, California, dropped by Black Butte Lake for their weeklong annual training exercise to keep soldiers sharp on how to assemble and disassemble IRB’s – Improved Ribbon Bridges – in order to rapidly move soldiers, vehicles and equipment across lakes and rivers.
USACE PHOTO BY JOSEPH BRUTON

IRB’s have seen extensive combat operations with the Army and Marine Corps since 2003, when they were used by U.S. forces to cross the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers during the invasion of Iraq. The importance of being able to quickly set up and break down IRBs becomes readily apparent when considering doing so under fire.

The California Army National Guard holds its annual training at Black Butte Lake over the week of April 29 – May 3. The 132nd Engineering Company (Multi-Role Bridge Company) out of Redding, California, dropped by Black Butte Lake for their weeklong annual training exercise to keep soldiers sharp on how to assemble and disassemble IRB’s – Improved Ribbon Bridges – in order to rapidly move soldiers, vehicles and equipment across lakes and rivers.
USACE PHOTO BY JOSEPH BRUTON

A five-section bridge can be assembled in as little as 20 minutes … if the team is well-trained.