249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power)
The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power), headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, is a versatile power generation battalion assigned to the US Army Corps of Engineers that provides commercial-level power to military units and federal relief organizations during full-spectrum operations. Additionally, the commander serves as the Commandant of the US Army Prime Power School, the institution responsible for the development of Army and Navy power generation specialists. The organization is charged with the rapid provision of Army generators to support worldwide requirements.
The Battalion offered a variety of services including: electrical power requirement assessment, power production; transformer inspection and test analysis; maintenance and repair of power plants, substations, and government owned or managed transmission and distribution systems, circuit breaker and relay maintenance; infrared surveys, medium-voltage electrical contractor oversight, and training for personnel to operate and maintain prime power distribution and generation equipment.
As of 2005, the mission of the 249th Engineer Battalion had been to deploy to generate and distribute prime electrical power in support of warfighting, stability and support operations, and disaster relief operations; to provide advice and technical assistance in all aspects of electrical power and distribution systems; and to maintain Army prime power generation and distribution reserve stocks.
The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) was originally constituted on 25 February 1943 in the Army of the United States as the 249th Engineer Combat Battalion. It was activated on 5 May 1943 at Camp Bowie, Texas. The Battalion was deployed to Europe where it engaged in 4 major World War II campaigns, and was cited in the Belgian Army Order of the Day for action in the Ardennes in Alsace, France. Following the war, the unit pulled a short tour of occupation duty and then returned to Camp Patrick Henry, Virginia, where it was inactivated on 28 November 1945.
On 23 March 1948, the 249th Engineer Combat Battalion was redesignated as the 442nd Engineer Construction Battalion and allotted to the Organized Reserves as part of Fifth Army. The Battalion was activated on 8 April 1948 with Headquarters at Ames, Iowa. It was affiliated with the Iowa State Highway Commission between 1948-49. During this period, the Organized Reserves were redesignated on 25 March 1948 as the Organized Reserve Corps, to which the Battalion remained assigned. The Battalion was inactivated on 22 May 1950 at Ames and Council Bluffs, Iowa.
On 25 June 1952, the inactive 442nd Battalion was redesignated as the 249th Engineer Construction Battalion and on 9 July 1952 as the Organized Reserve Corps was redesignated as the Army Reserve, to which the Battalion remained assigned. The Battalion was redesignated on 9 December 1954 as the 249th Engineer Battalion. It was concurrently withdrawn from the Army Reserve and allotted to the Regular Army. The Battalion was activated on 9 February 1955 in Germany and stationed at Kaiserslautern.
In March 1960, the 249th Engineer Battalion deployed to France, fragmented, and performed airfield missions. It returned to Karlsruhe, West Germany in 1965. On 30 June 1975, the Battalion was reorganized as a combat heavy engineer battalion. On 8 December 1990, the 249th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Heavy) deployed to Southwest Asia to participate in Operation Desert Shield and later Operation Desert Storm. For its actions there, the Battalion was awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation. On 29 April 1991, the Battalion returned to Germany and was inactivated on 15 October 1991.
On 16 November 1994, at Fort Belvoir, Virginia the unit was again activated as the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power). The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) was originally comprised of a Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, Companies A, B, and C. Company C evolved from the US Army Engineer Reactor Group started in 1958 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The mission of the reactor group was to prepare military personnel to operate, maintain, and manage the Army's nuclear and fossil-fueled powerplants. The course had been modified in 1977 to the current Prime Power Production Specialist Course. On 1 October 1997, Company C was reflagged as the US Army Prime Power School.
The 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) was assigned to the US Army Corps of Engineers and headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Battalion generated and distributed prime electrical power in support of warfighting, disaster relief, stability and support operations. It also provided advice and technical assistance in all aspects of electrical power and distribution systems. The Battalion maintained Army power generation and distribution war reserves.
During peacetime, the Battalion relied heavily on installation support missions for training. The Battalion offers a variety of services including: power production; transformer inspection and test analysis; maintenance and repair of power plants, substations, and government owned or managed transmission and distribution systems, circuit breaker and relay maintenance; infrared surveys and training for personnel to operate and maintain prime power distribution and generation equipment.
The 249th Engineer Battalion was the only prime power unit in the Army; the only Army unit under the command of the Chief of Engineers; the only Battalion running a joint-service school that qualified soldiers and sailors in a Military Occupational Speciality; and also the only Battalion with both global responsibilities and forward deployment.
The 249th Engineer Battalion was a multi-component unit with Active Component soldiers and Reserve Component soldiers from the US Army Reserve. By 2000, the Battalion consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters Company, a Heavy Maintenance Platoon, 2 Prime Power line companies (A and B Companies), and the Prime Power School. Each line company had a company headquarters and 4 geographically dispersed, highly skilled platoons comprised of a warrant officer and 15 NCOs. The platoons deployed in support of US Army, Department of Defense and federal agencies world wide and were capable of setting up, operating and repairing complete medium to high voltage power generation and distribution systems.
The Battalion Commander of the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) was also the Commandant of the US Army Prime Power School located at Fort Belvoir. The Prime Power School trained Prime Power Production Specialist (MOS 52E) through a rigorous, year-long program including courses in math, physics, engineering, and power plant operations and maintenance. The training program was open to Active and Reserve Component soldiers, and Navy Seabees. Upon graduation, Army personnel were awarded MOS 52E20 and Navy personnel were awarded NEC 5633. Students earned over 30 semester hours of college credit while attaining the knowledge and skills associated with installing, operating, and maintaining large medium voltage electrical power plants. Additional courses conducted at the school included MOS 52E30 BNCOC and MOS 210A, WOAC.
The Battalion also managed the US Army Corps of Engineers Prime Power Loan Program. The loan program maintained an inventory of prime utility power generation, and distribution equipment to support military contingency plans. During peacetime, these assets could be deployed to support high-priority electrical power requirements for the Army, Department of Defense and other federal agencies. The loan program was self-sustaining and managed on a reimbursable basis from annual fees for each generator and per-engine hour charge. Prime Power Specialists from the Battalion installed the equipment, and trained operators.
Company A, 249th Engineer Battalion traced its history to July 1991, with the conversion of 4 widely dispersed US Army Facilities Engineering Support Agency Table of Distribution and Allowances (TDA) Prime Power Detachments into Table of Order and Equipment (TOE) platoons. With the activation of the 249th Engineer Battalion, Company A's headquarters was activated at Fort Lewis, Washington, along with 2 of its 4 platoons. The Company's remaining 2 platoons were located at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, and Camp Humphreys, South Korea. 2 US Army Reserve platoons were also part of the Company, one located in Seattle, Washington and the other in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Company's wartime mission was to support the 412th Engineer Command.
The inactivation and reflagging of the 535th Engineer Detachment resulted in the activation of B Company, 249th Engineer Battalion. The 535th Engineer Detachment had spearheaded the United States Army Nuclear Power Program by operating and maintaining the nuclear Power Barge Sturgis, along with numerous other fossil-fueled power barges and non-tactical generator powerplants. B Company consisted of a company headquarters and 4 prime power platoons and was located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Three of the Company's platoons were also located at Fort Bragg, while the remaining platoon was located at Thompkins Barracks, Germany. 2 US Army Reserve platoons were also part of the Company, one located in Kittaning, Pennsylvania and the other in Attleboro, Massachusetts. The Company's wartime mission was to support the 416th Engineer Command.
Each platoon had the capability to produce up to 3 megawatts of power at 4,160 volts. The individual generator size was 750 kilowatts. Each platoon could also produce 500 kilowatts of power at 120/208 volts. The 750 kilowatt generators that produced 4,160 volts required transformers to convert the voltage to a user level (120/208/277/480 volts). The Battalion had limited 1,600 kilovoltampere mobile substation assets and smaller transformer banks ranging from 225 kilovoltampere to 150 kilovoltampere. The Battalion also maintains a limited amount of 5 to 15 kilovolt cable to set up a medium voltage distribution system using the Battalion's organic transformers.
Each platoon in the Battalion was equipped with 4 750 kilowatt generators, one 500 kilowatt generator, and one 500 kilovolt-ampere substation. In addition, the Battalion's Loan Program, which contained the Army's strategic reserves, had 13 4.5 megawatt generators, 3 1,500 kilowatt generators, along with 5 500 kilowatt and 33 750 kilowatt generators.
The Prime Power School was scheduled to be moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure program. The BRAC realignment also meant that the platoons in Germany and South Korea were relocated, being stationed with the rest of their respective companies. All of the Battalion's companies were reorganized to contain only 4 platoons. C Company, 249th Engineer Battalion was reactivated in 2008 at at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. D Company, was organized in late 2009 to unify the 4 Reserve Component platoons that had previously been part of A and B Companies. A ceremony was held on 15 November 2009 to mark the unit's activation. On 22 November 2010, the Prime Power School officially opened at Fort Leonard Wood.
As of January 2011, the 249th Engineer Battalion (Prime Power) was headquartered at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and consisted of a Headquarters and Headquarters company, 4 Prime Power line companies (A through D), and the Prime Power School. A Company was located at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; B Company was located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; C Company was located at Fort Belvoir, Virgina; and D Company, comprised of all US Army Reserve soldiers, had its headquarters and 3 platoons at Cranston, Rhode Island, and one platoon at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. The Prime Power School, relocated to Fort Leonard Wood, graduated the Army's Prime Power Production Specialist (MOS 21P) following a one-year course that included math, physics, engineering, and power plant operations and maintenance. Each line company had a headquarters and 4-6 platoons comprised of a warrant officer and 15 non-commissioned officers. The platoons were capable of setting up, operating, and repairing complete medium voltage power generation and distribution systems world wide.
On 31 October 2012, US Army Corps of Engineers senior leaders, power response teams, 249th Engineer Battalion Technical Assistance personnel, and other technical experts were on scene at various locations on the East coast of the United States providing assistance in the wake of Hurricane/Post-Tropical Storm Sandy. The US Army Corps of Engineers had received a Temporary Power mission assignment from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and had deployed temporary emergency power assets (4 planning and response teams, the 249th Engineer Battalion, 6 emergency command and control vehicles/deployable tactical operating systems, and one mobile command vehicle) to provide support to areas impacted by Sandy.
On 2 November 2012, the 249th Engineer Battalion was preparing to move a 13 megawatt oower package via convoy from Fort Belvoir, Virginia to support Consolidated Edison (ConEd) in New York City, New York. This system was to be plugged into the ConEd's East River grid. Additional 249th Engineer Battalion personnel had deployed on the night of 1-2 November 2012 to support anticipated missions in Ohio and Connecticut.
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