5th Engineer Battalion
5th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Combat) (Mechanized)
The mission of the 5th Engineer Brigade, the "Fighting Fifth," is to, on order, deploy to any contingency area worldwide and conduct full spectrum engineering operations. It would then, on order, redeploy and reset.
Previously, the mission of the 5th Engineer Battalion had been to, on order, deploy early to a theater of operations, perform combat engineer missions to support a ground maneuver force, and sustain and protect the battalion in order to ensure mission success. 5th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Mechanized) missions included: Deploy by road, rail, sea, and air; provide engineer command and control to a maneuver force; conduct mobility operations; conduct counter-mobility operations; conduct survivability operations; conduct limited construction and bridging operations; sustain the engineer force; and protect the force.
The 5th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Mechanized) traces its lineage back to 1861 and the Battalion of Engineer Troops, supporting the Army of the Potomac during the American Civil War. It was organized on 31 December 1861 in the Regular Army in Washington, District of Columbia, from new and existing companies of engineers as a provisional engineer battalion, which had been first constituted on 28 July 1866 as the Battalion of Engineers.
The Battalion's first mission was to plan, organize, and execute the defense of Washington, DC. The defense of the Capitol kept the Battalion occupied from the start of the Civil War in 1861 through March 1862. The mission was 3-fold: Survivability, Maneuverability, and Counter-Mobility. In March 1862, the Battalion was attached to the Army of the Potomac, under the command of General McClellan. From March through July 1862, General McClellan led Union Forces in the Peninsula Campaign. Throughout the spring and early summer, the Battalion was called on to bridge swollen creeks and rivers, and to improve road conditions to allow the Army freedom of movement. At Yorktown, the Engineers were instrumental in building and operating siege engines so that the Union Forces could assault. Circumstances called for the engineers of the Battalion to lay down their tools and fight as infantry. The first time in the Battalion's history that this happened was at Malvern Hill, on 1 July 1862.
On 17 September 1862, the United States saw its single bloodiest day. Over 23,000 Soldiers were killed or wounded in a single day at the Battle of Antietam. The Battalion took part, being used for reconnaissance and to prepare artillery positions.
11 December 1862 saw the Battalion bridge the Rappahononnock River during General Burnside's attack at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Led by Lieutenant Charles E. Cross, the Battalion was able to bridge the river, and allow Franklin's Grand Division to cross, despite a half inch thick sheet of ice on the river.
The Battalion became so adept at bridging that their accomplishments were recognized by National and International Engineers alike. Under the command of General Haupt, the Battalion built a bridge, 80 feet high by 400 feet long, across the Potomac Creek capable of transporting fully loaded trains. The bridge was constructed using over 2,000,000 feet of timber, which was cut and hauled specifically for the bridge. The bridge was constructed in a mere 9 days.
By the end of the Civil War, the Battalion had participated and recieved battle streamers for the following campaigns: Peninsula, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Virginia 1863, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and Appomatox.
The period between the end of the Civil War and the beginning of the Spanish American War was one of relative little activity. The Battalion was sent to West Point, New York, where its primary task was the operating of the Engineer School at West Point.
With the outbreak of War with Spain in 1898, the Battalion was once again called into combat. Sent to Cuba, the Battalion was responsible for building and maintaining roads and bridges to allow freedom of movement for American Troops. As a result of their actions in Cuba, the Battalion was awarded the battle streamer for the Santiago Campaign.
As a result of the War with Spain, the US gained control of Philippines. Immediately following the end of the Spanish-American War, American forces were called on to protect American Interests in the Philippines. The Battalion accompanied US Forces to the Philippines where they were once again to provide maneuverability to US ground forces. Although not engaged in combat with the insurgent forces of the Philippines, the Battalion was awarded a battle streamer without inscription for actions in the Philippines.
In 1901, in response to the Army's need for Engineers, the Battalion was greatly expanded between 14 March and 7 June 1901 to form the 1st and 2nd Battalions of Engineers. The 1st Battalion of Engineers thereafter had a separate lineage.
In 1916 the 2nd Engineer Battalion was attached to General "Black Jack" Pershing's punitive force, assisted in chasing Pancho Villa's army into the interior of Mexico. The primary task of the 2nd Battalion was to sustain the logistical tail, and maintain the road network for the newly acquired wheeled vehicles. The Battalion was awarded a campaign streamer for Mexico 1916-1917 for its participation.
The 2nd Battalion of Engineers was expanded, reorganized, and redesignated between 1 July and 1 August 1916 to form the 2nd Regiment of Engineers. The 2nd Regiment of Engineers was expanded between 21 May and 20 June 1917 to form the 2nd, 4th, and 5th Regiments of Engineers. The 2nd and 4th Regiments of Engineers thereafter had separate lineages. The 5th Regiment of Engineers was formed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas from Companies C and D of the 2nd Engineer Regiment on the 21 May, 1917, subsequently chosen as the Battalion's organization day. At the time the 5th Regiment of Engineers was formred, it had 11 officers and 274 Soldiers. The first commanding officer was Lieutenant Colonel William J. Barden.
The 5th Regiment of Engineers was redesignated on 29 August 1917 as the 5th Engineers. On 6 December 1917, the Regiment was assigned to the 7th Division. As soon as space was available, the Regiment moved to Camp Wheeler, Georgia, home of the 7th Division. From Camp Wheeler, the Regiment was ordered to Camp Merritt, New Jersey in order to train to deploy with the 7th Division to the front in World War One.
The 5th Engineers boarded the H.R. Mallory on 39 July 1918 and sailed for France, arriving in Brest on 12 August 1918. The Regiment became part of the 240,613 Army Engineers that would serve in the US Army Expeditionary Force. On 9 October 1918, the 7th Division relieved the 90th Division in the Puvenelle Sector. The 5th Engineers relieved the 315th Engineer Battalion, and by midnight that night had been welcomed to the war by an artillery barrage from the Germans.
The Regiment immediately started work on organizing resistance along the front of its sector. After establishing the line of resistance the Regiment immediately set to work on stringing barbed wire, digging trenches, and creating shelters. On 30 October 1918, the Regiment began moving to positions in order to be able to support the Second Army's winter offensive. However, prior to the start of the offensive, the Armistice was signed. The Regiment was awarded a campaign streamer for Lorraine 1918 for its service.
Following the Armistice the Regiment consolidated in Bouillonville. While in Bouillonville, the Regiment worked on salvaging equipment, building walkways, bridges, new barracks, and clearing mines. The soldiers of the Regiment cleared and detonated over 1,000 mines, and received an official commendation for its effort in clearing the road through Xammes, Charey, and Mars-le-Tour. On 11 February 1919, the 5th Engineers boarded the USS George Washington in Brest, France for the return trip to the United States. President Woodrow Wilson joined the Regiment on the return trip, and commended them for their service in France.
The Regiment was inactivated on 27 September 1921 at Camp A.A. Humphreys, Virginia. The Regiment was relieved on 11 January 1936 from assignment to the 7th Division and assigned to the 8th Division. It was activated on 1 February 1936 at Fort Belvoir, Virginia. There it spent the next 5 years tasked to provide instructor support to the Engineer School. The unit was relieved during its tenure there, on 16 September 1939, from assignment to the 8th Division
On 1 September 1941, before the US had even entered World War II, the 5th Engineers were ordered to Iceland. On 16 September 1941, the Regiment arrived in Iceland and received the task to construct and maintain facilities aiding the movement of troops and supplies to Britain. The Regiment was redesignated on 1 August 1942 as the 5th Engineer Combat Regiment. The Regiment remained in Iceland until 22 December 1943, then moved to Glasgow, Scotland to prepare for combat.
The Regiment was broken up 27 December 1943 and its elements reorganized and redesignated. 2nd Battalion was reorganized and redesignated as the 1278th Engineer Combat Battalion. Headquarters and Headquarters and Service Company became Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1128th Engineer Combat Group and 1st Battalion became the 1277th Engineer Combat Battalion, both of which thereafter had separate lineages. While in England, the 1278th Engineer Combat Battalion had many important construction tasks. However, the most important task was constructing the Assault Training Center. The Assault Training Center was crucial in training Allied Forces as it gave them the chance to refine their skills in preparation for Normandy Assault.
The forward echelon of the 1278th Engineer Combat Battalion landed at Utah Beach on 26 June 1944, less than 3 weeks after D-Day. The soldiers of the Battalion were once again called to execute the Engineering missions of Maneuverability, Survivability, and Counter Mobility. On 19 December 1944, the Battalion was preparing a defensive line along the west bank of the Ourthe River to hold against the German Offensive. During this defense 3 soldiers demonstrated outstanding heroism and earned the Silver Star.
The 1278th Engineer Combat Battalion was redesignated on 23 January 1945 as the 5th Engineer Combat Battalion. Throughout the Second World War the Battalion was called upon to perform a variety of tasks, from maintaining roads and supply lines, clearing mine fields, destroying pill boxes, running lumber mills and gravel pits, clearing the way for the infantry, and on occasion, fighting as infantry. The 5th Engineer Combat Battalion provided crucial information to Combat leaders by performing recons, often times well behind enemy lines. The Battalion was awarded campaign streamers for 5 campaigns during the Second World War: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace, and Central Europe. After returning from Europe, the Battalion was inactivated on 26 November 1945 at New York, New York.
The Battalion was reactivated on 5 May 1947 at Fort Lewis, Washington. The Battalion was used for construction projects around post and the surrounding area. When needed the Battalion was called to assist local communities in flood control. Along with construction projects and civil assistance, the 5th Engineer Combat Battalion continually trained for the next war. The Battalion was a key piece in Operation Niki, the simulated invasion of Oahu in the Hawaiian Islands.
From November 1951 through February 1957, the Battalion was assigned to the Seventh Army as part of the NATO forces at River's Barracks, near Giessin, Germany. Once again the Battalion was used for construction on post and civil works in the surrounding area. Being stationed at River's Barracks carried a great responsibility, as the Battalion was located within miles of the Border between East and West Germany and would play a pivotal role in any enemy attack. During this period, on 5 June 1953, the Battalion was redesignated as the 5th Engineer Battalion.
The 5th Engineer Battalion moved to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri in February 1957 and were assigned to the 921st Engineer Group (Combat) and further designated as a Strategic Army Corps (STRAC) Engineer Battalion. The Battalion was organized as the 5th Engineer Battalion (Corps) (Combat).
While at Fort Leonard Wood the 5th Engineer Battalion was involved in a variety of activities, from civil support, search and rescue, to conducting training at National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin California and Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) at Fort Polk, Louisiana and training cadets and soldiers. The Battalion designed and built several buildings and ranges on post, and assisted in the construction of the Lake of the Ozarks Recreation Area.
On 12 August, 1990, the Battalion was notified to deploy to Saudi Arabia as part of the 36th Engineer Group, 20th Engineer Brigade (Airborne). The Battalion arrived at Port of Dammam, Saudi Arabi, on 26 October 1990, and was assigned in direct support of the 1st Brigade, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized). The Battalion immediately set to constructing Sapper Base, an 800-man base camp.
Prior to and during Operation Desert Storm, the 5th Engineer Battalion were responsible for conducting long range reconnaissance along the border of Saudi Arabia, and into Iraq. When the order came down to assault, it was the Engineers that were responsible for breaching the 8 meter high, double earthen berms. Once in Iraq the Battalion was the tip of the spear, providing tactical mobility and destroying enemy fortifications and equipment in sector. The unit was task organized with 4 of its wheeled companies and a mechanized company from the 3rd Engineers, and became Task Force 5th Engineers.
The unit engaged in combat during the rapid advance into Iraq as part of the spearhead of 1st Brigade, attacking the Euphrates River Valley, then east towards Basra. During the assault, and continuing after the cease-fire, Task Force 5th Engineers engaged in extensive demolition of enemy bunkers, weaponry and munitions. With victory achieved, the 5th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was one of the few engineer units participating in Desert Storm to receive the Meritorious Unit Citation. Engineer units fought as infantry to assist in destroying the enemy. Five Soldiers from A Company, 5th Engineer Battalion earned the Army Commendation Medal with "V" device. After the cease fire was called on 28 February 1991, the Battalion destroyed 20 fighting vehicles, 135 artillery pieces, 379 bunkers, 1,500 meters of resupply rail, untold tons of munitions and explosives, and 3 command and control microwave towers. On 3 March 1991, the Battalion started retrograde movement.
After its return to Fort Leonard Wood, the 5th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was selected to participate in the Engineer Restructure Initiative. This involved transitioning the battalion from a wheeled to a corps combat mechanized battalion. This transition was completed in October 1992, and the battalion was redesignated the 5th Engineer Battalion (Combat) (Mechanized). In February 1993, the Battalion received attachment of all US Army Forces Command ( FORSCOM) deployable engineer units on Fort Leonard Wood. These included the 515th Engineer Company (Pipeline), the 902nd Engineer Company (Assault Float Bridge), and the 285th Engineer Detachment (Quarry), which were subsequently inactivated; and the 521st and 562nd Engineer Detachments (Firefighter), which remained part of the Battalion in the 2000s.
The 1990's also saw several deployments for several parts of the Battalion. 1993 saw the 562nd Engineer Detachment (Firefighter) sent to Somalia to support Operation Restore Hope. From December 1997 to June 1998, they deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Uphold Democracy. In 1999, the 562nd Engineer Detachment (Firefighter) deployed one more time in support of Operation Allied Force in Albania.
Two months after the events of 11 September 2001, Company A deployed to Kosovo in support of the Multi-National Brigade (East) Kosovo as part of the NATO led Kosovo Force (KFOR) rotation 3B. The deployment lasted from from November 2001 through May 2002. Company A conducted numerous humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.
When orders came down for Operation Iraqi Freedom, 5th Engineer Battalion found itself tasked to support the 4th Infantry Division to provide command and control for the Division's planned maneuver. The Battalion's first objective was to secure the Taji Military Industrial Complex, and to improve its security and livability as it was converted into a primary Forward Operating Base.
After securing Taji, the 5th Engineer Battalion was designated Task Force Fighter. Task Force Fighter had, at different times, a company of Infantry and a Macedonian Special Operations Task Force. Task Force Fighter continued to perform combat patrols to defeat Non-Compliant Forces and former regime loyalists. Non-combat missions in country included civil works missions, such a distributing donated goods to Iraqi civilians, trash clean up, and training the Iraqi Civil Defense Forces.
While under the command of the 555th Engineer Group, A Company created the first route clearance team in theater. Called Task Force Trail Blazer, they were tasked with clearing Highway 1, the main supply route in the 4th Infantry Division sector. The mission was so successful that B Company began Trail Blazer South missions near Taji. The procedure was made it back to the US Army Engineer School and was incoroprated into the official doctrine.
The 5th Engineer Battalion was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom for a second time in 2006. Upon returning from that deployment, the Battalion was reorganized as part of the US Army's modular transformation. Its organic elements were inactivated on 17 May 2007 at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. An organic Forward Support Company was concurrently constituted and activated.
The third deployment of the 5th Engineer Battalion to Iraq saw an increased responsibility of the Battalion. By the end of October 2008, the Battalion team included its organic Headquarters and Headquarters Company and Forward Support Company along with 4 combat engineer companies (the 55th, 509th, 87th, 571st Engineer Companies), 2 horizontal construction companies (the 63rd and 561st Engineer Companies), a US Air Force Utilities Detachment, and administrative and logistic support for the 515th Engineer Company.
Throughout the course of the 14 month deployment, the 5th Engineer Battalion operated nearly continuously and simultaneously, at varying levels, across all elements of full spectrum operations: Offensive, Defensive, and Stability. Highlights of Battalion's efforts and contributions included: Transformation of the 5th Iraqi Army Division Field Engineer Regiment from a poorly trained and resourced company sized element into a capable engineer reginment; interdiction of approximately 400 IED's; maneuver support to over 45 combined arms and multi-national construction projects; discovery and destruction of countless weapons and explosive caches with thousands of pounds of munitions; project development and oversight for nearly 100 million dollars in Iraq civil capacity and infrastructure development projects; over 20 humaitarian assistance missions; and the implementation of the Iraqi Civil Service Corps program which focused on transitional employment and job training for nearly 400 former Iraqi Security Forces.
The 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, activated in 2008, gained Training and Readiness Authority for the Battalion, though it technically remained assigned to FORSCOM.
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