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555th engineers and others conduct wet gap training

The 555th Engineer Brigade conducted a wet gap training exercise on Sequalichew Lake with guard, reserve and Marine units. Photo credit: JM Simpson

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Exercise Courage Crossing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord highlighted the coordination between approximately 400 army active duty, reserve, and guard soldiers and Marines in order to cross a body of water. The 555th Engineer Brigade hosted the training June 12.

"It's bridge building and boat piloting ‘on the move' when we conduct a wet gap crossing of a body of water," commented SSgt. Heath Edin, 671st Multirole Bridge Company.

The purpose of wet gap training - the crossing of a river or lake - is to project combat power across the obstacle and complete a mission.

"It is when we must cross a river or lake in order to complete a mission, and there are a lot of moving parts to make this happen safely and quickly."

To accomplish this, engineers from JBLM's 555thEngineer Brigade, along with the 132nd Multirole Bridge Company (Army National Guard), the 321st Engineer Battalion (Army Reserve), the 671st Multirole Bridge Company (Army Reserve), the 864th Engineer Battalion (active duty), the 110th Chemical Battalion (active duty), the 744th Engineer Company (Army Reserve), and the 92nd Engineer Battalion (active duty) worked as a team to conduct an early morning crossing of Sequalichew Lake.

"In the ‘crawl, walk, run' scenario, we're at the ‘run' stage commented 2Lt. Carson Liang, 132nd Multirole Bridge Company. "This exercise is going well."

Soldiers from B Company, 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 2nd Infantry Division, the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade and the Marines' 6th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company provided security and air assistance, respectively.

"The most challenging part of this exercise was getting everyone here at the same time," commented Command Sgt. Major Zachary Plummer, 555th Engineer Brigade. "This exercise represents a smart and deliberate convergence of everyone involved to make this a success."

Out on the water, eight small M30 and MK2 boats nudged or pulled self-opening bays into position to create rafts. 

"Six bays will make one raft," continued Edin, "and we will use them to ferry equipment across the water. These rafts can hold an Abrams tank." He added that the rafts can be connected in order to make a floating bridge.

With a raft waiting at the water's edge, two Strykers from the 2nd SBCT were guided on to it. 

"This is where all of the training we've experienced over the past five days comes into play," added Spc. Bret Lawrenson, 671st Multirole Bridge Company. "It's great to be able to do this."

Moments later, he and two other M30 boats began to slowly move the raft with the two Strykers and about 20 soldiers across the lake. Once on the other side, the vehicles rolled off, the soldiers walked off, and the raft pushed off to make its way back across the water to bring more equipment across.

"This training has been very good and has been well executed," concluded Plummer. "All of the units involved have been on the same page, and that is important. We fight as one."

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