1ST BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM: 326th BEB provides diverse combat enablers
While most battalions have one primary role in its support of the brigade combat team, brigade engineer battalions provide multiple critical functions to enable combat operations. Soldiers from 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, showcased their unit’s versatility during a weeklong field training exercise, March 12-Friday, at Fort Campbell’s training area. The FTX prepared the battalion to better integrate into brigade-level combined arms training events.
The FTX also certified certain elements on their mission essential tasks. “The 326th BEB is the most unique battalion within the Bastogne brigade,” said Lt. Col.
Jonathan Zimmer, 326th BEB commander, who often compares his battalion to a multipurpose tool. “Each tool performs a different function, and this is how our battalion supports the brigade.” Those tools include six companies from which there are two engineer companies, a signal company, a military intelligence company, a forward support company and a headquarters and headquarters company. Soldiers from A and B engineer companies conducted engineer qualification tables, Sapper missions focused on reconnaissance, mobility and counter mobility, and survivability operations. “We have an area reconnaissance lane, and a complex obstacle breach lane, a route reconnaissance lane, and a complex obstacle emplacement lane where they are actually emplacing a deliberate crater and an 11-row wire obstacle,” said Capt.
Benjamin Speckhart, A Co., 326th BEB commander. The Soldiers of C Company, the signal company, performed retransmission and networking training, and sling load operations to hone their military occupational skill-specific and air assault skills. The Soldiers of D Company, the military intelligence company, consists of three platoons – the unmanned aircraft system platoon that operates the RQ-7 Shadow UAS, a multi-function platoon that has signal and human intelligence capabilities, and an information collection platoon that, with the brigade intelligence section, analyzes information from all reconnaissance assets for Bastogne.
The Soldiers conducted aerial reconnaissance missions in support of 1st Squadron, 32nd Cavalry Regiment, 1st BCT, and 326th BEB’s platoon defensive live-fire exercises, The forward support Soldiers of E Company increased their lethality during the platoon defensive live fire as well as conducted sling load operations to certify day and night aerial resupply missions. Additionally, the maintenance platoon conducted recovery operations, the field feeding section cooked and served meals for more than 500 Soldiers during the week, and the distribution platoon supported the entire battalion with fuel and ammo.
During the defensive live-fire exercise, the chemical reconnaissance platoon of Headquarters and Headquarters Company conducted decontamination training to increase the knowledge and skills for Soldiers throughout the battalion. “We’re training on how to properly decontaminate equipment and vehicles so that in the case we are attacked, we can set up a decon line and get them back to the battle,” said Spc. Thomas Rivera, a CBRN specialist.
This training is important because there are countries who are experimenting with chemicals, and there’s a history of chemicals being used, so I feel it is our responsibility to actually make sure everybody is prepared for such an attack.”