20th Engineer Brigade History
The lineage and honors of the 20th Engineer Brigade date back to the Civil War. First designated as the Battalion of Engineers on August 3, 1861, the battalion participated in 10 campaigns during the Civil War. Since the time, unit designations changed many times as predecessors of the 20th Engineers Brigade served in the War with Spain, the Philippine Insurrection, the Mexican Expedition and World Wars I and II.
On August 16, 1950 the brigade was first designated as the 20th Engineer Brigade and activated at Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri. The brigade deployed overseas in November 1952 and provided engineer construction support in southwestern France. Upon redeploying back to the United States, the brigade was activated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, on September 10, 1954. From that time until its inactivation on December 12, 1958, the brigade provided engineer support to XVIII Airborne Corps.
In response to the build up of U.S. forces in the Republic of Vietnam, the brigade headquarters was reactivated on May 1, 1967 at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and deployed to Vietnam in August 1967. During the Vietnam conflict, the brigade consisted of over 13,000 Soldiers organized into 3 engineer groups, with 14 battalions and 31 separate companies and detachments. The brigade provided all non-divisional engineer support in Military Regions III and IV during 11 campaigns, constructed bridges totaling more than 6miles in length. As forces were withdrawing from Vietnam, the brigade was in activated September 2, 1971.
The 20th Engineer Brigade was reactivated at Fort Bragg, North Carolina on June 21, 1974 and assigned as a subordinate command of the XVII Airborne Corps with one airborne combat engineer battalion, a heavy construction battalion and four separate companies. Since that time the brigade and its subordinate units supported the XVII Air Borne Corps fulfilling critical combat engineer, construction, topographic, and bridging missions. As requirements and the engineer force structure changed, the brigade inactivated the combat heavy battalion in 1987 and activated another combat airborne battalion. In 1989, the 30th Engineer Battalion (Topographic) (Theater Army) was added to the brigade.
On August 2, 1990 the brigade was called to support the multinational response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The brigade grew to a 7,700 Soldier force composed of 3 groups, 10 battalions, 4 separate companies, and 8 detachments in support of XVII Airborne Corps during Operations Desert Shield and Storm. The brigade completed 1,500 combat heavy battalion’s equivalent days of work constructing roads, airfields, heliports, ammunition/fuel/water storage points, life coalition engineers, and supported the French attack on Assalman Airfield. During follow-on missions, the brigade destroyed over 6,000 enemy bunkers and 1 million tons of munitions.
Throughout the years, the brigade has deployed in support of operations across the entire spectrum of conflict from disaster relief to combat operations. In September 1994, the brigade deployed to Haiti in support of Uphold Democracy. The headquarters stayed south with the 30th and the 27th engineer Battalions in Port Au Prince and the 37th Engineer Battalion went north to Camp Haitian. The main focus was base camp construction and humanitarian projects. In 2001, the 27th Engineer Battalion deployed for six months to provide engineering support in Kosovo.
As the Global War on Terrorism commenced, the brigade sent elements to numerous countries to include Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq. Since spring 2002, 12 of the 17 companies of the brigade have deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF), Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or both. Brigade engineers conducted minefield and route clearance operations, road maintenance, road, airfield and base camp construction, and geospatial missions. The Corps Staff Engineer Section (SES) supported combined and Joint Task Force 180 from June 2002 through May 2003 in Afghanistan.
In November 2004, the brigade headquarters deployed to Camp Victory, Iraq in support of OIF 04-06. The brigade grew to 6,100 personnel composed of 3 brigade headquarters, 7 battalions, 6 separate companies and 9 detachments. The brigade served as the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) corps-level engineer headquarters for all echelons-above-division engineers in Iraq, providing command and control for general support combat and construction engineer missions across the country. The Brigade Commander served simultaneously and the MNC-I C7 Director of a 132 man coalition engineer section.
During this deployment, the brigade patrolled 57,950 kilometers of MSR Tampa for IEDs and UXOs; expanded 14 bases in support of the MNC-I basing plan; emplaced or maintained 16 bridges; expanded detention capacity for 6,000 detainees; trained over 53,000 coalition Soldiers on explosives hazards awareness; reduced over 11,000 caches and over 80,000 tons of explosive munitions; and provided geospatial support with more than 20,000 map products and nation-wide catalogued network of high-accuracy survey points.
In July 2007, the brigade headquarters deployed once again to Iraq, where it served at the Multi-National Corps-Iraq (MNC-I) corps-level engineer headquarters, this time the brigade was based out of Joint Base Balad. During this deployment, the 20th EN BDE missions employed the principles of enabling COIN operations by taking the fight to the enemy by repositioning engineer forces, creating unity of effort by nesting operations with maneuver units, and using engineer skill sets and staff capabilities to support lines of operations to reduce unemployment and improve civil. During OIF 07-09, the 20th EN BDE moved engineer units, task organized engineer forces as appropriate, and changed command and support relationships to create Joint, Multifunctional Engineer Battalions capable of conducting route clearance in support of Division and BCT (in addition to Corps MSR/ASR) assured mobility missions, full-spectrum JSS/COP construction fully utilizing Air Force Utilities Detachment capabilities previously used for on-FOB construction, and supporting identified geographic areas for a more embedded, nested concept of support of maneuver units. The 20th ENBDE pioneered the use of DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization, and Reintegration) funding for Civil Service Corps (CSC) through the Hawr Rajab Village of Hope CSC and Salah ad Din Road CSC, working with Joint Contraction Command Iraq/Afghanistan (JCCI/A) to write the first statements of work (SOWs) for training programs, which would later be used by MNC-I in a theater- wide effort.
On 16 September 2009, the 20th Engineer Brigade transformed to a modular engineer losing its designation as combat and airborne. However, the brigade still retains the preponderance of the Army’s Forcible Entry Echelon Above Brigade (EAB) engineer force structure with two engineer battalions on airborne status and five dive companies. The brigade still retains the ability to employ the Brigade Assault Command Post in a forcible entry environment.
On 15 January 2010, the brigade deployed the Assault Command Post to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response (OUR) where they formed the core of the JTF-Haiti J7 (Engineer Staff) and facilitated structural assessments, developed the beddown plan for over 10,000 US forces and conducted assessment of the ground lines of communications to facilitate the rapid distribution of aid.
In January 2011, the brigade headquarters, the 133rd Construction Management Team (CMT) and the 326th Engineer Battalion deployed to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn (OND). The brigade served as the sole engineer brigade in Iraq working directly for United States Forces Iraq (USF-I). The brigade was based at Joint Base Balad (JBB) and focused on Counter Improvised Explosive Device (C-IED) operations along theater level Main and Alternate Supply Routes, bridging and military construction for troops units as well as the Department of Sate (DOS) and the OFFICE of Security Cooperation Iraq (OSC-I). In June 2011, the brigade was given an additional mission to transition Contingency Operating Base (COB) Adder and all its property to the Government of Iraq (GoI). The brigade continued its mission as the theater level engineer brigade, moved to COB Adder and assumed the duties and responsibilities and the base mayor of the 12,000 person base. COB Adder was the last base transitioned in Iraq and in December 2011 the brigade redeployed to Fort Bragg NC.
Today, the 20th Engineer Brigade consists of 6 battalions and numerous separate companies and detachments numbering over 4,000 Soldiers across 5 different installations. The brigade stands ready to provide rapid engineer support in response to any worldwide contingency mission. The 20th Engineer Brigade is proud of its long service to both the nation and the Army. Having participated in 36 campaigns, more than any other major subordinate unit in the XVII Airborne Corps, the brigade is confident of a future of continued service to the XVII Airborne Corps, the United States Army and our Country.