Marines master bridge building
CENTRAL TRAINING AREA, Okinawa, Japan -- As Marines traverse through the dense jungle, they stumble upon a 70-foot-wide trench approximately 50-feet-deep. Without hesitation, the Marines pull out a 100-foot rope and lower a Marine down to cross the trench and start building a one-rope bridge.
Marines with 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, practiced building one-rope bridges Jan. 10 at the Central Training Area near Camp Hansen during a tactical rope suspension techniques course taught by Special Operations Training Group, III MEF Headquarters Group, III MEF.
“A one-rope bridge is an expedient and convenient way to get a team and its gear across a wide gorge or trench,” said Staff Sgt. Timothy M. Fleming, an instructor with SOTG. “The Marines have to construct a bridge in less than 20 minutes to be able to pass the course.”
A one-rope bridge is a complex rope system that stretches across a gap while tied to a tree or solid anchor on both sides of the gap. Marines attach themselves to the bridge and pull themselves across, according to Fleming.
The Marines began the training with a practical application of all the knots they had previously learned. Each Marine was blindfolded and timed while tying each knot, which were checked to ensure they were tied properly and securely.
“You have to be able to properly tie a knot under pressure to ensure that if you need to do it in a moment’s notice to save a life, you can,” said Lance Cpl. Gage L. Theriot, a rifleman with 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, which is currently assigned to 4th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division under the unit deployment program.
Once they were proficient in knot-tying techniques, the Marines started learning the basics of creating a one-rope bridge.
“To start building the bridge, you anchor a rope to a live tree that is at least five inches wide and five feet tall,” said Cpl. Trenton A. Douglass, a reconnaissance man with 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. “This rope acts as a safety line, which is then carried across the gap by one Marine who secures it to another tree meeting the same requirements at a 45-degree angle across the gap.”
After both ropes are properly secured, Marines attach a carabiner to their rope harness and the one-rope bridge and pull themselves across, according to Theriot.
After several hours of practicing building a one-rope bridge, the Marines held a friendly competition to see who could construct the bridge the fastest.
“We were split into two teams of eight and taken to a gorge in the jungle to have the competition,” said Theriot. “The teams were taken individually and timed to complete the objective on the same trees.”
With good teamwork and support, both teams were able to accomplish the mission and were separated by just under 60 seconds, according to Fleming.
With new skills acquired, the Marines completed the course better prepared to meet challenges throughout Okinawa and the Asia-Pacific region, according to Fleming.