The U.S. military and its NATO allies conducted a gap crossing operation over the Danube river in Romania.
The 126th Public Affairs Operations Center has announced that on Saturday, June 22, 2019, distinguished visitors, civilian and military media outlets witnessed an opposed wet gap crossing over the Danube river, Europe’s second longest river, after the Volga. U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli and Romanian Joint Force Commander Maj. Gen. Dorin Ionita had front row seats for the event.
Working under an unrelenting sun with a blistering 94 degrees Fahrenheit, service members made final preparations for the technically challenging river crossing. Heavy machinery, personnel carriers and tanks were scheduled to cross.
All was quiet until the Romanian 72nd Engineer Battalion, 10th Engineer Brigade called friendly forces forward at approximately 11 a.m. On cue, the Romanian air force engaged enemy targets on the far side of the bridge.
The Romanian Naval Artillery and the 325th Field Artillery Battalion provided support by fire as Romanian Puma SOCAT helicopters gave close air support.
Meanwhile, allied force Chinooks sling loaded and delivered the final piece of the bridge, allowing ground forces to cross. A follow-on convoy of American and allied military vehicles crossed the floating bridge while air force MiGs, F16s, Apaches and Blackhawks soared through the sky offering support.
Additionally, Romanian infantry marines patrolled the Danube on zodiac inflatable boats, countering simulated opposing force attacks. They performed strafing runs along the riverside with bigger gunships adding extra intimidation.
This combined demonstration of land, air and sea lethality was something to behold.
“The sheer amount of coordination to organize an opposed wet gap crossing is significant,” said Lt. Col. Philip Baker, Operations Officer for the 141 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.
The event ended with all opposing forces neutralized and a successful wet gap crossing by friendly forces. But so much more happened behind the scenes, from the planning stages to the execution of the exercise, requiring a tremendous amount of interoperability among participating nations.
“This was a peak of joint military training conducted at the last period of exercise Saber Guardian,” added Lt. Col. Dan Crisan, Public Affairs Officer for all Romanian Land Forces. “A huge effort of our soldiers showed all these capabilities.”
“No matter how complicated or complex the operational environment, Saber Guardian created an integrated and sophisticated military mechanism that is able to complete the mission.”