Army Bridge Builders: Because Tanks Can’t Swim

Source: DoD (

The Army is a ground force, but that doesn’t mean soldiers can just steer clear of water.

Moving swiftly from Point A to Point B often requires crossing a body of the stuff. Enter bridge builder crew members, like those of the Army Reserve’s 652nd Engineer Company.

These soldiers quickly construct floating bridge systems — called  improved ribbon bridges, or IRBs — when troops, vehicles and other equipment need to cross water or other barriers and permanent bridges aren’t around. 

Soldiers assigned to the company got the chance to practice the skill at Camp Ripley, Minn., for their annual training, connecting seven components weighing nearly 13,000 pounds each — two ramps and five bridge components — in the Mississippi River. 

They then used the system to ferry an M2 Bradley fighting vehicle and dozens of soldiers across the river. 

Assembling the bridge components is a sprint of intense, laborious work. Standard assembly time for a seven-component IRB is 23 minutes. Soldiers of the 652nd finished theirs in 17 minutes, 18 seconds.

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(Adapted from a story by Army Spc. Elizabeth Hackbarth, 364th Theater Public Affairs Support Element)