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NEWS | Nov. 14, 2016

Blue Chromite 2017: 9th Engineer Support Battalion Builds a Medium-girder Bridge

By Cpl. Jessica Etheridge

OKINAWA, Japan –Marines train and deploy in a variety of different locations that may have rough terrain such as gaps in the land and broken down bridges they cannot cross on foot. When these problems arise, the engineers are called.

During exercise Blue Chromite 17, Marines from 9th Engineer Support Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force assembled a five-bay, double-story, medium-girder bridge. The MGB is a tool that aids Marines in moving troops and heavy armored vehicles.

“As part of a combat engineer’s job, we help with mobility in the field,” said Cpl. Derek Brisendine, from Eustis, Florida, a combat engineer with 1st Platoon, Company B, 9th ESB. “Whenever the infantry cannot get past a certain point, we help provide that mobility for them.”

With 1st platoon being the only Marines in 9th ESB that have bridge building capabilities, they were essential during exercise Blue Chromite to rapidly build a bridge that was airlifted by a CH-53E Super Stallion assigned to Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 361, forward deployed to Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III MEF. Blue Chromite is a U.S. – only exercise which strengthens the Navy-Marine Corps expeditionary, amphibious rapid-response capabilities based in Okinawa and the greater Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

“The bridge is a giant puzzle. It requires a lot of different pieces to be assembled in the correct order,” said 2nd Lt. Eric Mederos the platoon commander for 1st Platoon, Company B, 9th ESB.

The MGB is a unique piece of equipment that 9th ESB handles when operating in the field. The bridge has roughly 150 individual parts needed to assemble the final design.

“The bridge is designed to be a rapid deployed unit,” said Mederos from Tampa, Florida. “It normally takes about an hour to construct the bridge, but during the exercise we constructed it in 38 minutes.”

The strategic location of Okinawa provides the Marine Corps with unique training opportunities. The engineers are training to be ready to close any gaps the Marine Corps needs, according to Mederos.
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