Engineer Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)
In 2004 the 3rd Infantry Division began transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. With the changes in the relationships between division level support assets and the division and its brigades, the 3rd Infantry Division's Engineer Brigade. Engineer elements became organic to the Brigade Special Troops Battalion, and the 3rd Sustainment Brigade (previously the Division Support Brigade, and before that the Division Support Command) gained an engineer battalion.
The 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) Engineer Brigade was a diverse unit trained to deploy rapidly anywhere in the world in support the 3rd Infantry Division. Each of its 3 battalions have been tested during operational and training deployments. The mission of the Engineer Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), was to deploy rapidly to a contingency area by air, sea, and land, protect the force, and conduct continuous combat engineer operations in support of mobile, combined arms offensive and defensive operations worldwide.
The 3rd Infantry Division's Engineer Brigade was unique as a result of its being part of the XVIII Airborne Corps premier heavy rapid deployment force. Its accomplishments and reputation were recognized among the engineer and maneuver communities alike. It was the pioneer of engineer and combined arms doctrine as a result of its battalions' frequent deployments and rotations to the National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center.
The history of the Engineer Brigade officially began in May 1990 with the Chief of Staff of the Army, General Vuono, approving a plan called the Engineer Restructure Initiative (ERI). This initiative had grown out of both historical examples and the experience of units fighting at the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. Heavy Divisions historically needed additional engineer support, and the NTC experience proved the advantage of frequent combined arms training. The result was an Engineer Brigade of 3 lean combat engineer battalions organic to the heavy division.
During Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the ERI concept was put to the ultimate test. Several engineer battalions were added to each heavy division, and the results were superb. Following the return of the "Victory" Division from the Persian Gulf, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) was designated as the first division in Forces Command (FORSCOM) to convert to the ERI force structure. Colonel J.B. O'neill was designated to command the newly forming brigade at Fort Stewart, Georgia. His arrival in July of 1991 began the process of conversion to the new structure.
The Brigade officially activated on December 1991 which officially grouped the 3rd, 11th and 317th Engineer Battalions. On 25 April 1996, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) was reflagged as the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), with the 3rd Engineer Battalion reflagging as the 10th Engineer Battalion.
Elements of the 3rd Infantry Division's Engineer Brigade supported the 3rd Infantry Division during the buildup and initial invasion of Iraq in March 2003 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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