Marines conquer with improved ribbon bridge

Marines conquer with improved ribbon bridge

by Cpl. Anne K. Henry
Okinawa Marine Staff

CAMP SCHWAB—Marines with 9th Engineer Support Battalion learned the fundamentals of the new improved ribbon bridge and the Marine Corps bridge pallet system through a week of hands-on training at Camp Schwab Feb. 3-7.

The IRB is an improvement to the older, improved floating bridge and will allow the Marines to quickly assemble it in harsher conditions. The Marine Corps bridge pallet system launches the IRB into the ocean and is compatible with existing Marine Corps vehicles.

“The IRB will give the Marines a faster turnaround rate,” said Master Sgt. Timothy M. Bogie, the project manager with Marine Corps Systems Command. “The old bridges would take around 20 to 30 minutes to assemble. The IRB takes about 12 minutes. These bridges can also be assembled in a faster river current than the old ones could.”

The five days of training enabled the Marines to build on their previous knowledge on bridges and learn the fundamentals of the IRB, according to Joshua Junge, a training instructor with Training and Education Command.

“The way the (new) bridges are designed is much different,” said Junge. “We have to ensure that the Marines understand how to deploy them, connect them together, and all of the different components.”

The IRB consists of two components, a ramp bay, which forms the end of the bridge, and the interior bay, forming the center. For this new system each interior bay and ramp bay is tracked individually providing a better readiness picture of available inventory to the commander.

“There are a few, small noticeable differences between the IRB and the older bays,” said Bogie. “One of the biggest being that the old bridge was a set of 12 interior bays and five ramp bays. Now, with the IRB, they are individual. Therefore if one breaks, we only need to replace the parts for that individual bridge.”

With the new capabilities the IRB has to offer, it contributes heavily to the Marine Corps being a rapidly deployable force in readiness, according to 1st Lt. James J. McGeady, a combat engineer with the unit.

“Bridging has always been a vital part of engineering in every war and theater we have fought in as Marines,” said McGeady. “With the IRB, we do not only need to rely on helicopters or ships. This improves infrastructure and the ability to get supplies out to areas that do not have bridges in place. These bridges can be deployed rapidly and in an expeditious nature, allowing us to be a force in readiness.”

With the new IRB, the Marines using it will be provided with new capabilities allowing them to progress with the technology provided as an expeditious force, according to Junge.

“As technology increases, the equipment will continue to improve,” said Junge. “This new system is going to greatly benefit the Marines using it.”

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