Soldiers and leaders of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team “Rakkasans,” 101st Airborne Division, welcomed the 21st Engineer Battalion to its ranks during a ceremony at the Division Parade Field March 27.
The 21st Eng. Bn. was reflagged from the 3rd Special Troops Battalion as part of the division’s ongoing reorganization process known as Agile Eagle II that will align the division with the Army’s proposed 2020 model.
“Before, you didn’t have that many engineers, you only had the alpha company in each STB, which was a Sapper company,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Manny Vasquez, the lead planner for Agile Eagle II. “Now you’re going to have a whole engineer battalion that’s going to work for the maneuver brigade commander. So it gives you, at the brigade level, a lot of capability.”
The 3rd STB came into existence following Agile Eagle I, which brought the division into its current modular structure. Agile Eagle I aligned engineer, signal, intelligence, chemical, and military police as organic assets to a BCT.
Under the 3rd STB, the battalion had a Headquarters and Headquarters Company which included medical and chemical assets, a signal company, an engineer company and a military intelligence company.
As part of the Agile Eagle II transformation, the 21st Eng. Bn. has added an additional company of engineers to its ranks as well as adding additional engineer staff to the headquarters to better facilitate their new role.
“The 21st Engineer Battalion’s activation is a major milestone in the Army’s most recent transformation to a more capable Brigade Combat Team,” said Lt. Col. Zachary Miller, the commander of the former 3rd STB and commander of the newly stood up 21st Eng. Bn. “This battalion, employing all of its capabilities – engineer, signal, intelligence and mission command – provides freedom of action to the Rakkasans and loosens its forces from the grips of the enemy and all aspects of the terrain.”
The addition of more engineers has also allowed the 21st to add small detachments of dedicated engineers to support the brigade’s maneuver elements allowing for a greater freedom of maneuver for friendly forces and inhibiting the enemy’s ability to mass and maneuver.
In addition to the reflagging ceremony, the unit recently welcomed their new senior enlisted advisor Command Sgt. Maj. Martin Humphreys during a change of responsibility ceremony March 11 and the standing up of the Forward Support Company March 14.
The newly flagged 21st will know the honors and traditions of its lineage and that of the 3rd STB for future “rendezvous with destiny.”
“Just as its predecessor did, this battalion will continue to enable, support and enhance everything the Rakkasans do”, Miller said. “It will engineer solutions to the BCT’s toughest challenges. And it will embody the true meaning of the engineer motto Essayons …“Let us try.’”