CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The 2nd Marine Logistics Group is the only active duty command in the Marine Corps that has a company-size element with the bridging capabilities Bridge Company, 8th Engineer Support Battalion provides.
So when the Canadian army national guard wanted to brush up on bridging skills, they made their way to Engineer’s Point on the banks of the New River aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., for a joint training exercise Jan. 6.
The training was held to give the Canadian combat engineers a chance to refine their skills in warmer weather than their native land.
During the exercise, Canadians used an improved ribbon bridge, which they assembled and disassembled with the help of the Marines, to transport vehicles in between three points. The IRB is a floating wet-gap bridge system capable of carrying 96 tons. The bridge can also overcome wet-gap obstacles, such as rivers and lakes, too wide to be breached and too deep to be forded by combat vehicles.
Although the majority of the guardsmen spoke mainly French, they all worked together moving the vehicles, Marines stood by as subject matter experts, gave tips and critiqued the work done by the guardsmen.
“Everyone is doing their part and things are coming together nicely,” said Capt. Micheal Stevens, the commanding officer for Bridge Co. “There is a slight language barrier but it hasn’t hindered the process. We’ve done a good job guiding the guardsmen in the right direction.”
Many of the two services’ techniques differ, for example, the Marine Corps uses rope to secure their boats to the rafts while on the water, but the guardsmen use cables to hold the two together.
Regardless of these subtle differences, Stevens thought the Marines and guardsmen performed well with each other, even though it was a first for many of the service members involved.
In addition to moving the vehicles, the Canadians operated watercraft, manned safety boats and provided security for the scenarios.
The training exercise wasn’t all work and no play. The Marines and Canadians had time to get to know each other.
“When these service members head back to Canada they’ll leave with the impression we give them,” Stevens said. “We’re making sure they head back thinking we’re the best, and I think our Marines did that.”
These service members’ paths are unlikely to cross again, but the Marines with Bridge Co. have left their imprint on the Canadian national guardsmen and large shoes to fill for the next service members who work with the guardsmen.