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BCT reorganization will impact more than 26,000 engineers

Aug. 28, 2013 - 05:23PM   |  
411th En. Bde. leaves legacy in Afghanistan
Sgt. 1st Class Jason Armano, Joint Task Force Empire Engineers construct a bridge in southern Afghanistan. (Army)
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Beginning in October, as many as 26,600 soldiers from across the force will move or reorganize to form new engineer battalions in each of the Army’s brigade combat teams.

The Army is standing up a BCT Engineer Battalion for each of the Army’s primary fighting formations as part of a sweeping reorganization announced in June by Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.

Described as one of the service’s largest organizational changes since World War II, the move will see the Army cut 80,000 troops and eliminate at least 12 BCTs by the end of fiscal 2017. It also will add a third maneuver battalion to most of the remaining armored and infantry BCTs and bulk up each unit’s engineer and fires capabilities.

The overhaul comes as the Army transitions from more than 12 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and is the result of the Budget Control Act of 2011, which requires a mandatory $487 billion reduction in spending. The Army’s share of that between now and 2020 is $170 billion.

To form the BCT Engineer Battalions, or BEBs, the Army will need about 21,000 soldiers and equipment from the Brigade Special Troops Battalion in each of the current 45 BCTs, said Col. Karl Konzelman, of the force management directorate in the Army G-3/5/7 (operations).

The Army also will pull about 5,600 personnel authorizations from a “significant portion” of the echelon-above-brigade engineer force structure, Konzelman said.

Eleven engineer units will contribute these personnel, and some will be inactivated while others will be absorbed into the BCTs, Konzelman said.

For example, the 8th Engineer Battalion, of Fort Hood, Texas, will form the core of the BEB for 2nd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, said Randy Tibbs, who serves as Konzelman’s deputy.

The affected units are:

• 8th Engineer Battalion, Fort Hood, Texas

• 326th Engineer Battalion, Fort Campbell, Ky.

• 1st Engineer Battalion, Fort Riley, Kan.

• 65th Engineer Battalion, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii

• 307th Engineer Battalion, Fort Bragg, N.C.

• 7th Engineer Battalion, Fort Drum, N.Y.

• 6th Engineer Battalion, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska

• 14th Engineer Battalion, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

• 52nd Engineer Battalion, Fort Carson, Colo.

• 2nd Engineer Battalion, White Sands Missile Range, N.M.

• 11th Engineer Battalion, Fort Benning, Ga.

When the BEBs are completed, they will give the BCTs more engineer capability, including two engineer companies and a battalion-level staff capable of engineer planning and command and control, Tibbs said.

The Army also is working to ensure units can keep as much of their history, lineage and honors, especially from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as possible, Tibbs said.

In addition to the engineers, who will make up about half of the unit, the BEB also will be home to the BCT’s military intelligence and signal companies, Konzelman said.

“The battalion commander, as the senior officer ‘owning’ those assets, assumes responsibility for the mission, organization, prioritization of effort, training, morale and general ‘care and feeding’ of those companies,” he said.

The BEBs will range in size from 417 to 460 soldiers, depending on the type of BCT it belongs to, Konzelman said.

There are a lot of moving parts to this reorganization, he said.

“It is a multi-layered process,” he said. “There comes a time when we’re dealing with the granularity of the whole situation and it comes down to picking up the grains of sand off the beach. It has to be accurate. The men and women who are out there serving, they depend on us to get it right.”

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