Ready for Afghanistan waters Print E-mail
Wednesday, 31 July 2013
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Soldiers from the Missouri Army National Guard 1438th Multi-Role Bridge Company work together to secure bays and ramps of bridging material. The Macon, Mo., unit was on Fort Leonard Wood to prepare for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
 
Story and photos by Melissa Buckley
GUIDON staff
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Missouri Army National Guard Soldiers from the 1438th Multi-role Bridge Company from Macon, Mo., are on Fort Leonard Wood to prepare for their upcoming deployment.

“This is the home of the engineers. There are not a lot of opportunities for them to reinforce all of their bridging skills. This is the best place to train,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce, Missouri Army National Guard. “We don’t have the training aids that you have here. The environment here is also conducive to getting their minds set for mobilization.”

The 1438th MRBC usually trains on the Missouri River. Sgt. 1st Class Chris Mincher, 1st Platoon sergeant, 1438th Multi-Role Bridge Company, said the river is a good place to train, but he knew his unit’s experience on Fort Leonard Wood would make or break the success of their deployment.

“Each lake, pond, or river is different; and each bay fits together different,” Mincher said.

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Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce, Missouri Army National Guard, talks to Soldiers from the 1438th Multi-Role Bridge Company July 24 during their training at Fort Leonard Wood. The 1438th MRBC is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this year.
According to Mincher, the best way to learn how to build a bridge is to do it — over and over. While training on Fort Leonard Wood, they have run into many different scenarios they are likely to see in theater.

 “Everything is steel on steel. If it doesn’t line up just right, they will be fighting with it. Until you start pulling the ropes and lifting the jacks you just can’t understand,” Mincher said.

The standard to deploy and construct the bays and ramps into a Ribbon Bridge is 20 minutes.

On July 22, it took them 44 minutes — but Mincher said there is a reason why they took more than twice the standard.

“I’ve got 55 Soldiers. Thirty of those are brand new to our unit, because they volunteered to go with us, so they didn’t have any bridging experience. They came from the Military Police Corps and the Chemical Corps,” Mincher said.

In just two days, the Soldiers had their time down to 13 minutes.

“It was scary at first, but they are motivated, so this is turning out good,” Mincher said.

The 1438th MRBC has been doing deployment training in Camp Clark, Mo., and Fort Dix, N.J., but to Mincher, getting to Fort Leonard Wood was vital.

“For our unit, being full of so many volunteers, this was critical.

This is the stuff we are going to be doing in theater. I kept thinking ‘we need to get to Fort Leonard Wood and get hands-on,’” Mincher said.

Pierce came to Fort Leonard Wood July 24 to speak to the company face-to-face.

“Less than half of these folks have been there before. I wanted to remind them that there are some good things about having the experience, but if they have had the experience I want them to go in with an open mind. The situation on the ground has changed,” Pierce said. “For all of them, I wanted to remind them that following the Tactics, Techniques and Procedures is often the difference between surviving or not. In my consideration, self-discipline is the number one attribute they need to follow — for their own survivability. I don’t want them to get complacent.”

Once the 1438th MRBC complete their training on post, they will be headed to Afghanistan. 

Last Updated ( Friday, 16 August 2013 )