The U.S. Army has announced that 1st Infantry Division Soldiers here recently finished operational testing of a new heavy assault bridge designed to cross wet and dry gaps.

In a release morning Friday, PEO Combat Support & Combat Service Support reported the Army’s Joint Assault Bridge (JAB) program aimed at modernizing the Engineer Regiment’s vehicle-mounted bridging capabilities in November successfully completed Initial Operational Test (IOT). With IOT in the books, the JAB program is closing the gap in fielding with the First Unit Equipped, the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kan., in March 2021.

In addition to being named First Unit Equipped, the 1/1 ID also put the JAB through its paces during the recent IOT.

More mobile and survivable than its predecessors, the JAB will be a major asset modernizing the Army’s bridging inventory. Current Army plans call for the JAB to replace all Wolverine and Armored Vehicle Launched Bridges (AVLB) in Active, National Guard, and Reserve units.

According to a recent service news release, during the operational test of force-on-force training, Soldiers from 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, and 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division conducted more than 40 natural gap crossings and 22 combined-arms breaches of anti-vehicle tactical obstacles. The Maneuver Support and Sustainment Test Directorate, U.S. Army Operational Test Command, Fort Hood, Texas, led the operational test.

“The amount of hands-on training we received really gave all of us confidence in the equipment and our capabilities going into the field,” said Sgt. Molly Atkinson, a vehicle commander from 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 1st Engineer Battalion, 1/1 ID.

Soldiers received detailed and all-inclusive new equipment operator training, field-level maintenance new equipment training, and training on doctrine, tactics and techniques during the weeks leading up to the operational test.

“Gap crossings and breaching operations are complex missions that require our engineer assets to work in concert with maneuver,” said Capt. Mitchell Ables, Bravo company commander, 1st Engineer Battalion. “The JAB allowed us to maintain tempo throughout.”

Another Company Commander, Capt. Stephen Schnorf, of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 1/1 ID, said, “The opportunity for us to conduct combined-arms breaching operations on this scale, with this much land, assets, and time, while simultaneously testing the JAB, was a win-win.”