11th Engineer Battalion
11th Engineer Battalion (Combat)
The 11th Engineer Battalion is based at Fort Benning, Georgia and is part of the 36th Engineer Brigade. Its mission is to deploy rapidly to a contingency area by air, sea, and land, protect the force, and provide continuous mobility, countermobility, survivability and general engineer support for mobile combined arms offensive and defensive operations. It is made up of the following units: Headquarters and Headquarters Company, which includes the 52nd Engineer Team (Design and Survey) and the 153rd Engineer Team (Concrete), a Forward Support Company, the 63rd Engineer Company (Combat Support Equipment), the 362nd Engineer Company (Multi-Role Bridge), the 60th Engineer Company (Vertical Construction) and 793rd Engineer Company (Horizontal Construction).
When previously organized as a Combat Engineer Battalion, the unit consisted of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company and 3 line companies (A, B, and C). Each line company was made up of 2 Sapper platoons and one Assault and Obstacle platoon. The unit was habitually aligned to provide support to 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division as part of the "Raider" Brigade Combat Team. Typically, each of its line companies would support an infantry or armor task force.
The 11th Engineer Battalion's history begins in 1917 with the activation of the 11th Engineer Regiment (Railway). It was one of the 3 regiments activated to maintain railroads in northern France in support of the American deployment and the overall war effort. The 11th Engineers landed in France on August 1917, the first American unit to enter the European theater.
On 20 November 1917, elements of the 11th were repairing a section of railway track when a British attack launched the Battle of Cambrai. In a desperate counterattack, the Germans penetrated British lines and overran the engineer work site. Fighting back with hand tools and discarded rifles, the 11th Engineers held their position. The British rallied around the engineers' site and forced the Germans to withdraw. Thus, the 11th Engineers were the "first to fight" of all American units engaged in World War I. For its valor, General John Pershing and Field Marshall Douglas Haig commended the Regiment. The 11th was ordered home and demobilized on 6 May 1919.
The unit was reconstituted on 4 November 1920 and expanded to form the 363rd Engineers in the Organized Reserves, which thereafter had a separate lineage, and the 11th Engineers in the Regular Army.
On 20 November 1920, the unit was activated in the Panama Canal Zone as the 11th Engineer Regiment (Combat) and assigned to the Panama Canal Division on 2 June 1921. For the next 23 years, the 11th Engineers conducted numerous engineer missions over rugged terrain and through dense jungle. It was in Panama that the 11th adopted for its crest the Panama Black Panther and assumed the nickname "Jungle Cats." The unit was relieved on 15 April 1932 from assignment to the Panama Canal Division.
On 1 April 1943, the unit was reorganized and redesignated as the 11th Engineer Battalion (Combat) and sent to the United States for training. The Battalion deployed to Europe in November 1944. During World War II, the 11th Engineers cleared minefields, repaired roads, built and repaired bridges, conducted demolition missions, and supported the 101st Cavalry Group's penetration of the Siegfried Line. When hostilities ended the 11th Engineers stayed in Europe carrying out reconstruction projects. The unit was inactivated in Austria on 30 November 1946.
The 11th was reactivated in Japan in March 1950, where it constructed training areas for the 24th and 25th Infantry Divisions. It was among the first numbered TO&E units to enter Korea and supported UN forces throughout the war. The Battalion also fought as infantry and supported the 24th Infantry Division in its crossing of the Naktong River. Following the Korean war the unit was reorganized and redesignated on 15 March 1954 as the 11th Engineer Battalion. The Battalion stayed in Korea until 1971, assisting in the reconstruction and defense of South Korea.
On 20 May 1971, the Battalion was reactivated at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In 1979, it was reorganized as a Combat Heavy Battalion to provide troop construction support to the Engineer Center. It was inactivated on 15 August 1989 and in January 1990 the Engineer Center moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.
On 24 January 1992, the 11th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was reactivated on 17 July 1992 at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The unit was assigned to the Engineer Brigade of the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) under the Engineer Restructure Initiative (ERI). The 24th Infantry Division was the first stateside unit to implement ERI. The 11th Engineers was formed from C and D Companies, 317th Engineer Battalion and elements of B and E Companies, 3rd Engineer Battalion. Thus, the activation was the second time in its long history that the 11th Engineer was formed from elements of the 3rd Engineer Battalion and the second time that it supported the 24th Infantry Division.
In October 1994, Iraq positioned forces along its border with Kuwait. The 24th Infantry Division was placed on alert to deploy. During the period from 8 October 1994 to 5 December 1994, the 1lth Engineer Battalion distinguished itself while in support of Operation Southern Watch and Operation Vigilant Warrior. The Battalion successfully executed its rapid contingency deployment plan and completed all missions while deterring the Iraqi threat to Kuwait. Both Headquarters and Headquarters Company and C Company were awarded the Army Superior Unit Ribbon.
The unit was relieved on 15 February 1996 from assignment to the 24th Infantry Division and assigned to the 3d Infantry Division. This was part of the reflagging of the 24th Infantry Division as the 3rd Infantry Division, part of a drawdown of US force levels in Europe that saw the 3rd Infantry Division return to the United States after over 30 years in Germany.
In February 1998, the Battalion was alerted to deploy with the 1st Brigade Combat Team to Kuwait, in support of Operation Desert Thunder. The mission was to deter Iraqi aggression, assure coalition partners, and, if necessary, defend Kuwait. The Battalion successfully completed a rapid deployment to Camp Doha, Kuwait, and subsequently to the Kuwaiti desert, where it remained for over 4 months. During that time, the 11th Engineers supported the 3rd Infantry Division (Forward) as well as the 1st Brigade Combat Team. C Company, 10th Engineers remained at Fort Stewart, Georgia in support of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and the 10th Engineer Battalion, fully prepared to deploy on order.
The "Jungle Cats" deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and crossed the border into Iraq on 20 March 2003, as part of the 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Brigade "Raiders." The Raiders stormed into Iraq and through the Karbala Gap, engaging enemy forces along the way. On 2 April 2003, the Raiders, supported by Air Force ordnance and Army artillery, were pitched into the battle for Saddam International Airport. After 2 days of fighting, during which many Iraqi troops were killed and captured, the buildings in and around the compound were secured. It was during this combat that SFC Paul Ray Smith was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions that saved the lives of his Soldiers at the cost of his own. Baghdad fell a few days later to Coalition forces led by the 3rd Infantry Division.
On 15 March 2004, the 11th Engineer Battalion was inactivated and relieved from assignment to the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized). This was part of the transformation of the 3rd Infantry Division to the US Army's new modular force structure. The Division's Engineer Brigade was inactivated and engineer elements were made organic to the newly activated Brigade Special Troops Battalions in each reorganized and redesignated Brigade Combat Team. Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Engineer Battalion was reflagged as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
On 16 January 2007 the Headquarters and Headquarters Company was reactivated at Fort Benning, Georgia with its Support Company concurrently constituted and activated. The unit was subsequently organized as a heavy construction battalion designed to support the operations of tenant units at Fort Benning, Georgia.
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