Fort McCoy News August 09, 2013

WAREX engineers practice rafting operations

STORY & PHOTO BY SGT. FRANCIS HORTON
363rd Public Affairs Detachment

FORT McCOY, Wis. — The roar of diesel engines fills the air as MK2 Bridge Erection Boats cut into the pristine glass surface of Big Sandy Lake at Fort McCoy in July during the Warrior Exercise.

Loud splashes were heard as the five parts of an Improved Ribbon Bridge Raft hit the water.

Photo for rafting article
Soldiers with the 299th Engineer Company, 463rd Engineer Battalion,
411th Engineer Brigade of Fort Belvoir, Va., place an Improved Ribbon
Bridge Raft on Fort McCoy's Big Sandy Lake. The Soldiers used the raft to
transport troops and equipment across the lake for training during Warrior
Exercise.

Engineer Soldiers wasted no time putting the individual pieces together and preparing to cross the lake. The Soldiers moved quickly to secure boats to the side of the bridge, which propelled the raft across.

"We're out here to conduct rafting operations to move the 332nd Engineering Platoon across Big Sandy," said Capt. Church Hutton, commander, 299th Engineer Company, 463rd Engineer Battalion, 411th Engineer Brigade, Fort Belvoir, Va.

The engineers put together the Improved Ribbon Bridge Raft to ferry troops and equipment across Big Sandy Lake as part of Warrior Exercise.
Soldiers of the 299th lived up to the expectations of their leaders.

"Army standard is 15 minutes starting when the first bay hits the water," said Spc. Sagar Mamania, exercise shore commander, 299th Engineer Company.

During this exercise, he said the five bays were in after only nine minutes. Their quickness can be attributed to constant training with their equipment, said Mamania. During battle assemblies, the unit accesses a large body of water to practice various bridging operations. Once the bays are connected, the raft is pushed against the shore to allow vehicles to drive on.

Once loaded, Soldiers manually work hydraulic pumps to raise the ramps, cutting down on their drag in the water during transport, said Pvt. Brian Jones, bridge crewmember, 299th Engineer Company.

While extensive rafting operations were the only military occupational specialty training conducted by the 299th, the unit also is capable of creating a semi-permanent bridge over a body of water.

"We're able to build the bridge, traffic over equipment and load the bridge back up on the other side," said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Hunt, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the bridging operations.

The Soldiers also participated in warrior tasks and training, such as convoy operations and battle drills, Hutton said.

"There is some great training at Fort McCoy. The Soldiers are really developing their proficiencies," said Hutton.

"These Soldiers have done an incredible job," said Hunt. "It's been a collective effort on all parts."