Patriot missiles cross pontoon bridge in no-notice exercise
By MICHAEL ABRAMS | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 28, 2015
PETERSHAGEN, GERMANY — In an exercise dubbed “Minden Shock” soldiers of the U.S. Army’s 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment had little time to plan and carry out the mission.
“This was a no-notice exercise,” said battalion commander Lt. Col. Doug Lynch. “Within the last 96 hours this was planned and executed.”
The Baumholder, Germany-based unit had to drive their Patriot launcher stations and support vehicles nearly 300 miles to a field near Minden.
On the way there they had to cross the Weser River over a bridge built by British and German engineers.
Using six M3 Amphibious Rigs, three German and three British, the soldiers of 23 Amphibious Troop, Royal Engineers and the German army’s 130th Pioneer Battalion spanned the 250-foot-wide river for the Americans to cross.
Forty vehicles, including what Lynch called some of heaviest and most lethal weapons the U.S. Army has, rumbled across the temporary span in less than 100 minutes.
“We have not done a crossing like this on a river with our amphibious capabilities for some time,” said Brigadier Robert Walton-Knight, commander of the British army’s 8th Engineer Brigade. “To be able to do it is a fantastic opportunity.”
From the bridgehead the U.S. convoy travelled a couple of miles up the road to a large tree-encircled field. Here, within two hours of crossing the Weser, the soldiers had their Patriots deployed and ready to protect the skies over Minden.
Lynch, the battalion commander, was satisfied with their performance. “I believe we have demonstrated that we can rapidly move within the interior lines of Europe, anywhere, freely, to protect the third dimension, in our case, the air.”
A British soldiers guides a U.S. Army vehicle over a temporary bridge spanning the Weser River, during Minden Shock, a multinational training exercise, Tuesday, July 28, 2015. British and German army engineers built the bridge using M3 Amphibious Rigs for the soldiers of 5th Battalion, 7th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, to cross.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES