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Combat engineers keep tactical movement skills sharp

US Marine Corps News

By Lance Cpl. Antwain J. Graham, Marine Corps Bases Japan

Marines with Company A, 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force, conducted military occupational specialty training at Kin Blue training area recently.

With constant deployments, the unit rarely gets the chance to hone certain aspects of their skills. But with a short break before their next deployment, they focused on ensuring their training is up to date and qualifying Marines on various pieces of equipment.

At Kin Blue, several Marines qualified as bridge erection boat operators, constructed a medium girder bridge and deployed an improved ribbon bridge.

A medium girder bridge is a portable man-made device that allows troop movement across canals and can also make for easy amphibious vehicle movement into and out of water, said Sgt. Kyle Ekblom, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of training for Co. A.

During the weeklong training, Marines constructed the medium girder bridge to deploy boats into the water.

The boats were then used to push and maneuver an improvised ribbon bridge, a floating bridge used to tactically transport a Marine task force, supplies or anything up to 70 tons across a water obstacle in support of ground combat troops, Ekblom said.

An improved ribbon bridge is launched into a body of water and automatically opens to form a 22-foot section of bridge.

"We don't get to utilize this training often, but it is still important to keep our skills sharp," said Cpl. Michael Tatman, combat engineer with Co. A. "You'll never know when you have to put what you've learned to the test."

The ultimate goal of this training is to be able to provide tactical movement in a combat environment, Ekblom said.
Ekblom added this training often comes into play when ground troops are in need of support from an easily mobile task force.

"As Marines, we have a role to play, and we know that other troops depend on us, so we can't afford to be unprepared," Ekblom said.

The role of the combat engineers is just as vital to completing the overall Corps' mission as any MOS, he said.

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