Fredericksburg Guard battalion returns to engineer roots

Lt. Col. Charles B. Martin, Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey S. Voelkel uncase the colors of the 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion during a ceremony that marked the unit's transformation from the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion Oct. 15, 2016, at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Lt. Col. Charles B. Martin, Jr. and Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey S. Voelkel uncase the colors of the 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion during a ceremony that marked the unit’s transformation from the 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion Oct. 15, 2016, at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia. (Photo by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

SANDSTON, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion returned to its engineer roots with a ceremony to mark its transformation to the 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion Oct. 15, 2016, at Fort A. P. Hill, Virginia. The transformation is part of the U. S. Army’s reorganization of brigade combat teams to provide more engineer capabilities.

“We’re excited to gain the 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion designation,” said Lt. Col. Charles B. Martin, Jr., commander of the battalion. “The 229th Engineer Battalion has such a proud engineer heritage within the Virginia Army National Guard, and it is where I began my officer career as a platoon leader. I know that our Soldiers today will carry on the proud tradition of the 229th Engineer Battalion as we transform.”

The Fredericksburg unit traces its lineage and honors to 1858 and its service as a militia unit in the Army of Northern Virginia, explained Capt. W. Chandler Pearson, battalion operations officer. In 1985, the 229th Engineer Battalion was formed, and units in the battalion saw multiple overseas deployments to Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. The 229th was reorganized in 2005 to the 116th BSTB in an Army-wide reorganization of brigade combat teams.

“Today we face new and emerging threats to our nation, and this has caused the Army to reevaluate our formations and in that evaluation the Army elected to redesign the organization of the brigade combat teams,” said Col. E. Scott Smith, commander of the 116th IBCT. “In their analysis, along with other changes to the BCT the Army realized the value of our engineer units and reestablished the brigade engineer battalion adding another engineer company in addition to the already existing sapper company as part of the Army’s Brigade Combat Team 2020 concept.”

Smith said that the additional engineer company improves the battalion’s ability to conduct route clearance and mobility operations, and he said the Army also recognized the invaluable contributions of the military intelligence and the signal/communications companies to the brigade combat teams.

The battalion’s current structure has Company A, a combat engineer company; Company B, a military intelligence company; and Company C, a signal company. With the transformation, the military intelligence company will be redesigned as Company D, and an additional engineer company will be added as Company B. The transformation also brings a forward support company that provides sustainment support like transportation, maintenance and food service.

The 189th Engineer Company was reassigned from the 276th Engineer Battalion to the 116th last year, and those Soldiers will form the core of Company B and the 189th will be inactivated.

“Both companies are similar but ultimately provide different specialized capabilities,” Pearson said. “Company A will have a larger section of combat engineers and Company B will have a route clearance platoon. These additions enable the BEB to more adequately support the brigade commander’s intent and provide mobility, counter-mobility and survivability to units on the battlefield.”

Most of the battalion is headquartered in Fredericksburg with the military intelligence company stationed in Manassas and the new engineer company based in Bowling Green.

Read more about the 116th BSTB at http://go.usa.gov/xkVrK.

Photos on the 229th Brigade Engineer Battalion Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/229thBEB/photos/?tab=album&album_id=906238596146339

Photos on Flickr:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/albums/72157675251217155

Watch the transformation ceremony video on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/VaNationalGuard/videos/10154580156798560/

Watch the video on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxQ5AR9_TIA