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NEWS | June 21, 2024

Michigan Guard Engineers Train on Wet-Gap Crossing

By Anthony Housey, Camp Ripley Training Center

LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - Michigan National Guard Engineers of the 1437th Multi-Role Bridge Company worked through the night June 11 to unload trucks carrying boats and bridge sections during training on Camp Ripley.

“Our task is to span the Mississippi River and make our bridge safe for armored vehicles to cross,” said Army 1st Lt. Jame Hunter, 1437th commander.

This culminating event for the bridging company took place in darkness. The bridge facilitates driver training and provides hands-on experience for other units training on Ripley.

“Our coordination with several units has brought us to a multi-state training opportunity, which is not unrealistic in a possible forward deployment scenario,” Hunter said.

The engineers’ effort was part of a two-week annual training event for the Sault Ste. Marie-based unit. 

During the gap crossing, the 1437th incorporated security support from the Illinois National Guard 233rd and 333rd Military Police companies. 

“Getting the call and to be able to offer my unit’s specific skill set as MPs was a great chance to broaden everyone’s training knowledge,” said Army Capt. Chad Harris, company commander for the 333rd MP Company. “It was a thrill to use our normal practices in a unique scenario like this.” 

In a real-world scenario, bridging units would have support from higher echelons to defend their area of operations. Their effort to span an obstacle would allow combat formations to advance. 

These assets were also coordinated with the support of the 1437th to welcome self-propelled artillery and support vehicles of the Minnesota National Guard’s 1st Battalion – 125th Field Artillery to cross once the bridge was in place and inspected.

“Opportunities like this are rare during annual training, making this experience exceptionally rewarding for our Soldiers,” said Army Lt. Col. Mark Gile, battalion commander, 1st Battalion - 125th Field Artillery Regiment. “They unanimously agreed that it was among the best training sessions they have ever had. Conducting a ribbon bridge crossing at night and holding a reenlistment ceremony on the bridge created an unforgettable and highly impactful training moment.“

The engineers and military police engaged the opposing force in mock battles and deliberate maneuvers to challenge security.



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