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Multinational gap crossing demonstrates capabilities

By Spc. Andrew McNeil | 22ND MOBILE PUBLIC AFFAIRS DETACHMENT | December 01, 2017

ZAGAN, Poland — The sound of a powerful diesel engine filled the calm, cool air as Pfc. Michael Hamil, a Kingston, Tennessee, native, aligned a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to a bridge assembled by Polish engineering troops. Once aligned, a Polish Soldier wielding orange flashlight cones began to guide him over the bridge.

      Hamil’s head stuck out of the 20-plus-ton vehicle with tank-like tracked wheels to about shoulder level as his eyes were locked on his Polish ground guide. The U.S. Bradley moved smoothly over the bridge as the driver and guide worked together to achieve a common goal — safely crossing the river.

     On Nov. 16, Hamil and other Soldiers from the U.S. Army’s 5th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, were invited by the Polish army to complete a wet-gap crossing.

     “Today we got tasked to come out and train with our Polish allies,” said 1st Lt. James Dicesare, a platoon leader with 5th Sqdn., 4th Cav. Regt. “They established a bridge crossing for us and then my drivers got the chance to drive their Bradleys across the bridge.”

      Exercises like this help promote “common collective integration training,” said Polish Col. Dariusz Parylak, commander of the 10th Armored Cavalry Brigade. This bridge crossing allowed Polish and U.S. forces to take the next step to integrated operations.

      “I have been enjoying working with them (Polish soldiers), and especially learning from them and how they do their job because it informs us on how we can do our job better,” Dicesare said.

    The gap crossing not only helped develop a stronger operational relationship between the Polish and U.S., but also helped establish confidence in the young Soldiers who got to partake in the training, Dicesare said.

      “This is the (unit’s) first time crossing water,” Hamil said. “Yesterday we did a practice run crossing a ditch.”

      This kind of training gives junior Soldiers the ability to develop the skills of their jobs, said Hamil.

      “It feels good to get out here and do what normal 19 year-olds would not get to do,” Hamil said. “You get to learn a lot and experience how they (the Polish soldiers) do things and how that works with how we do things.”

      The team effort needed by both sides to accomplish the mission helps the success of the overarching mission of Operation Atlantic Resolve at the base level: Soldier-to- Soldier interaction.

      “It’s pretty cool to get out here and experience new things and work with our Polish allies,” Hamil said.