Defense forces celebrates birthday with bridge building competition

ETV's current affairs show "Ringvaade" spectated a bridge building competition between a civilian team and an Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) team to celebrate the army's 103rd birthday.

On November 16 1918, the Estonian Provisional Government decided to put together a volunteer army to defend Estonia, which is considered to be the birth of the Estonian Defense Forces. This year, the army celebrated by organizing a bridge building competition.

"We will see how the so-called regular world competes with the military world," said Second Lieutenant Gert Urb, who was also the military team's captain. The civilian team was headed by Uku Andreas Reigo, who was the winner of ETV's science show "Rakett69".

Both captains were assigned five conscripts and the goal was to build a bridge, which would take both teams across a river without them falling in. "A running bridge is made up of modules. It is often used to cross narrow places on the landscape," Urb said, adding that rivers are a prime example of where running bridges can be used.

Uku Andreas Reigo had never seen a running bridge before and putting one together was a new experience. Reigo, a high schooler, also did not have much experience with the EDF and the young man plans on starting his conscription after getting a bachelor's degree first.

Gert Urb said there are other ways to cross rivers, but the main thing is to take all unit members across without getting their feet wet. "We could all swim across, but a dry leg is what keeps us alive in the end," the Second Lieutenant said.

Urb said precise measurements are key when putting together a running bridge. If it is put together correctly, up to 1,000 people can use the bridge.

The Second Lieutenant said he hoped to see a new solution for the running bridge, but both teams' bridges looked similar. Uku Andreas Reigo believed both teams would get across, but he was not exactly pleased with how his team's bridge turned out.

The military squad tried their bridge first, attempting to cross a river 60 m wide. Nobody from the team fell into the water and crossing the river went smoothly. The conscripts did admit they were a little scared at first.

The civilian team's bridge seemed strong in the beginning and captain Uku Andreas Reigo crossed the river without too much worry. The bridge began unraveling with the third runner, however, and the team's fourth crosser had to get out of the water without there being a bridge.

"The defense forces has experience. Their bridge was much more stable. There is a long way to go before I can put up a bridge this good," Reigo said of the military squad's win.

Editor's note: The "Ringvaade" clip attached to the article has footage of the bridges being used, starting at around 5:20.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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