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Military Bridging and Maneuver Warfare: Deficiencies and the Way Ahead

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Research paper

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The United States Marine Corps concept of expeditionary maneuver warfare focuses on the ability to take action to generate and exploit some kind of advantage over the enemy as a means of accomplishing our objectives as effectively as possible. This concept has driven the Marine Corps Systems Command to procure equipment that can be rapidly and efficiently employed to generate speed and tempo. Inherent in maneuver warfare is the need for speed to seize the initiative, dictate the terms of action, and keep the enemy off balance, thereby increasing his friction. The Marine Corps, however, falls short in matching equipment with warfighting concepts in the area of military bridging. In fact, current bridge assets possess deficiencies and should be replaced using new technologies to support maneuver warfare. The Marine Corps currently employs the medium girder bridge MGB for dry gap crossings crossings in which the bridge is supported only by the abutments and improved ribbon bridge IRB for wet gap crossings crossings in which the bridge or raft is supported by water. Both are steel component bridges that are transported using the logistics vehicle system LVS and are constructed using manual labor. The logistical support required to transport and construct the current bridge assets are a hindrance to the Marine Corps current and future employment of maneuver warfare. The Marine Corps must align with the Army to pursue current and new technologies to develop expeditionary bridging. The new bridge assets must reduce logistical burden while expanding capabilities in comparison with current bridge assets. Two technologies that can be advanced to support the future of military bridging include composite materials and air cushion technologies i.e., hover craft.

Subject Categories:

  • Laminates and Composite Materials
  • Civil Engineering
  • Surface Effect Vehicles and Amphibious Vehicles
  • Logistics, Military Facilities and Supplies

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