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​Failed crossing with a KV-1 tank

International Bridge Assessment Course – IBAC 2016

The second International Bridge Assessment Course at the Engineer School in Ingolstadt (Germany) took place from 11 till 15 July 2016. The course consisted of 29 attendees from 12 nations. They rated the course as extremely useful for the position they are executing and praised the exchange of information and experience among nations and experts. Due to the success of last year and the repeated experience, it will be organized again in the summer of 2017.

By Capt (OF-2) Edith Groteclaes (BEL A),
Military Engineering Centre of Excellence, IKM Officer

Brief History

Formerly known as the International Bridge Assessment and Reconnaissance Teamleader (BART) Course, which took place in Belgium. The new course is as a bilateral project from the Belgian and German Engineer Schools, supported by the Military Engineering Centre of Excellence (MILENG COE).
Military bridging, reconnaissance and bridge assessment courses exist since decades in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. All courses are based on national doctrine. The German BUZ (Bautechnisches Unterstützungszentrum), located in the German Pionierschule, provides for many years a specific course for their engineers: a one week course which includes bridge reconnaissance and assessment. Based on the German course and taken into account the requirements, expressed by multiple nations, for an international bridge assessment course, Belgium created an International BART Course, conducted in English. This course was open to all NATO countries, for combat and infrastructural engineers and taught different assessment methods from other nations. The idea was to create a train-the-trainer course, where teamleaders could get a more profound knowledge of reconnaissance and assessment techniques, calculations, software and the latest developments in bridge assessment.
In October 2014 the Belgian and German Senior Engineers decided to combine their efforts and with the support of the MILENG COE, the course received an international framework.
In 9 months from decision to execution.
October 2014: BEL and DEU Senior Engineers decide to cooperate.
February 2015: Initial meeting – creation of the TORs.
March 2015: Reach out to the Bridging COI for support.
May 2015: Recces in Ingolstadt and surroundings.
July 2015: First IBAC.

The first IBAC

The aim of the course is to inform the attendees on the different existing assessment methods from STANAG 2021.
The course concept is in line with the Team of Expert in Military Bridge Assessment (TOE MBA) Program of Work number 10 (POW 10): Training concept. Which states that the Goal of international training should be to enlarge the knowledge of each student, by learning from their peers. Different knowledge and techniques may lead to higher quality of the work at home and mutual confidence in the field and in operation.
The course concept is also in line with MILENG COE SOP 701 on the Training and Education (T&E) course organization and administration.
Brief Course Content:
Introduction from MILENG COE and the BUZ.
Bridge Structures.
STANAGs related to bridging and route reconnaissance.
Bridge reconnaissance equipment.
Different national assessment methods: BEL Bridge Assessment Program (BAP), GER Assessment tablet application (BRASSCO-NG), Danish Assessment tables, GBR and USA Calculation methods.
Vehicle Military Load Classification program (VMLC).
Guided bridge reconnaissance.
Practical bridge reconnaissance (Syndicate Work).
Practical bridge assessments (Syndicate Work).
               Presentations of the Syndicate Work results.
“Interesting Topics” on the latest developments in bridging and bridge assessment.

Qualification of methods

The course is also used to work on POW 11 from the TOE MBA: Qualification of methods. Where the different national methods (from Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark and USA) are compared on known bridges.
Here for the experts were given the bridge design plans to calculate the MLC with their existing national methods. These were the plans from the same bridges which the students had to reconnaissance and assess.

Outcome of the Course

The course received some excellent feedback from the SMEs, students, guest speakers and guest, and it was agreed to organize a this cours yearly.
The outcome of the first course AAR and the comparison of the assessment results were brought forward to the 16th MILENG COE Steering Committee and the NATO Senior Joint Engineer Conference in Prague (NSJEC 2015).
In 2015, the NATO Senior Joint Engineer Conference gave guidance to MILENG WG and MILENG COE to review STANAG 2021 in order to develop a NATO standard for bridge classification.


On request of the TOE MBA, a workspace for the Bridging Community of Interest (COI) was created. To access this workspace you may request it by entering into our Knowledge Portal on the home page.
On this MILENG COE workspace the following documents can be found and shared: doctrine, reconnaissance reports, classification software, bridging studies and the IBAC presentations and pictures.