US 92nd Engineer Battalion practice water crossings with Abrams tank and Bradley IFV

US troops conducted a vital water crossing exercise in Georgia, partnering with engineers from the 18th Airborne Corps and tank operators from the 3rd Infantry Division, Davis Winkie reports in Army Times.
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A 3rd Infantry Division M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams main battle tank slowly moves onto a barge made of several bridge segments during a 497th Multi-Role Bridge Company, 92nd Engineer Battalion wet-gap crossing exercise in Fort Stewart’s Pineview Lake Sept. 21 (Picture source: U.S. Army/ Kevin Larson)

This training gained added significance due to a Russian battalion's failure attempting a similar crossing in Ukraine: the Ukrainian defenders repeatedly counterattacked the Russian bridgehead and destroyed four Russian pontoon bridges, according to the New York Times, using artillery and floating mines that Ukrainians placed in the river upstream (in friendly territory) to be carried by the current to the bridge.

The 92nd Engineer Battalion's 497th Multi-Role Bridge Company successfully assisted a Bradley Fighting Vehicle and an M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams tank in crossing a water obstacle at Fort Stewart, marking the first time this modern tank had crossed the water on the East Coast.

Wet gap crossings, a key component of Army doctrine, enable mechanized units to traverse bodies of water using temporary bridges constructed by engineers, avoiding heavily fortified and potentially destroyed existing bridges. Such crossings can be dangerous when contested, as seen when 400 Russian soldiers were killed in a failed attempt to cross the Siversky Donets River in Ukraine in 2022.

The 497th Multi-Role Bridge company's commander emphasized the importance of rigorous training for this maneuver, essential for potential operations in Europe or East Asia, where rivers pose significant obstacles, reminiscent of World War II.

Defense News October 2023