MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, California -- Nearly 25 Marines with 7th Engineer Support Battalion, I Marine Logistics Group, began a three-week construction project of a Bailey bridge at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, April 4, 2016.
7th ESB provides mobility assets to I Marine Expeditionary Force and any adjacent or joint units. The bridge was built as an alternative route to the main road going through Camp Talega during times of extreme weather.
“It’s really critical because we’re the only asset capable of providing that tactical mobility and bridging support,” said Capt. Jacob Krebs, bridge company commander, 7th ESB.
Combat engineers and heavy equipment operators constructed the bridge using their individual skill sets. Demolition, bridging, and creating mobility are some of the jobs of combat engineers while operating heavy equipment such as cranes, excavators, and bulldozers are the duties of heavy equipment operators.
“It’s a range of a lot of different things,” said Cpl. Jonathan Harris, a combat engineer with 7th ESB. “We do demolition, construction, and route clearance. “It’s pretty much a jack of all trades.”
Although the goal of the project was to provide an alternate route for the community in the case of inclement weather, it also afforded 7th ESB an opportunity to learn skills for building bridges they are unfamiliar with.
“This is really good for us to build our proficiency, to see another type of bridge, so if we ever come in contact with this type of bridge, we know exactly how to put it together,” said Harris. “It helps us get a better understanding of our military occupational specialty which, in turn, helps the Marine Corps.”
This project was the first experience Marines of 7th ESB had with the installation of a Bailey bridge. The Bailey bridge was originally constructed during World War II and was one of the most critical engineering components of that time.
“The Bailey bridge is the grandfather to modern line communication bridges,” said Krebs. “It still falls within something that’s outside of our comfort zone and what we’re typically used to.”
A generous amount of time was allotted for this project so the Marines could develop a thorough understanding of the construction process of a Bailey bridge.
The project offered the Marines experience with pin and panel bridges that are similar to bridges used by the Navy and the Army. This shared skill set allows a greater level of cohesion in a deployed environment, said Krebs.
The bridge not only provides the local community with a solution to poor weather, it gave the Marines a whole new skill set better enhancing their job proficiency.
“Typically, when we erect bridges it’s for a training mission,” said Krebs. “It lasts for a couple days. We tear them down and it doesn’t really have a lasting impact. But with this bridge, it will have a lasting impact for Camp Telega and the rest of Camp Pendleton.”