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54th Engineer Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
54th Engineer Battalion coat of arms
Active STB: 8 Jun 06-17 Jun 15
Eng Bn: 17 Jun 15-present
Country United States United States of America
Allegiance United States Department of the Army Seal.svg United States Army
Branch Active duty
Type Combat engineer battalion
Size Battalion
Part of 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team
Garrison/HQ Caserma Ederle (Vicenza, Italy)
Motto(s) Audentia et Fortitudo (Courage and Strength)
Engagements Afghanistan Campaign
Iraq Campaign
LTC Andrew J. Baker[1]
Distinctive unit insignia (DUI)
US Army 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion DUI.png
Battalion beret flash
US Army 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion Flash.png
Former DUI of the 173rd Special Troops Battalion

The 54th Brigade Engineer Battalion, formerly known as the Special Troops Battalion, of the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team is a combat engineer battalion of the United States Army headquartered at Caserma Del Din in Vicenza, Italy. It was the organization for the command elements of the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team but is now the engineer element of the brigade.[2]

The battalion contained the brigade's senior command structure, including its Headquarters and Headquarters Company, as well as communication and support elements. Activated in 2000 from inactivating support units, the Special Troops Battalion deployed with the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team to Afghanistan in 2007 until 2008 and again in early 2010.

Organization[edit | edit source]

The Special Troops Battalion was subordinate to the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team and was a permanent formation of the brigade, as the 173d's command elements are all contained in the STB.[3]

The battalion consists of three companies and the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company. Company A was a Combat Engineer company, Company B was a Military Intelligence company, and Company C waa a Signal company. These companies provide services for the other battalions of the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team, and as such, all of the companies are Airborne qualified.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

The Special Troops Battalion was formed as part of a reorganization of the 173d Airborne Brigade into a modular brigade. The battalion was designed to be the self-contained command component of the brigade, allowing it to function independently of any higher command. The battalion was activated on 8 June 2006. Most of its components were drawn from the 82nd Engineer Battalion, which inactivated on 30 March 2006.[5] On 21 April 2006, a coat of arms and a distinctive unit insignia were approved for the battalion.[6]

173rd Soldiers conduct air assault training in Germany (2007)

On 11 October 2006, the 173d Airborne Brigade was redesignated as the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team (ABCT),[7] as part of the Army's "Unit of Action" modularized unit force restructuring that General Eric Shinseki had originally envisioned.[3][8] This was a significant change as it signified the ability for the brigade to deploy its forces and sustain itself with its newly integrated support teams. By integrating these support elements, the unit became able to maintain its fighting forces with all that is required to keep the ground soldiers supplied and moving.[3] While most of the brigade remained in Vicenza, Italy through the transition, four of the battalions had to relocate to Bamberg and Schweinfurt, Germany until additional facilities were constructed in the Vicenza area.[8] The 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry was reflagged as 1st Battalion, 503d Infantry to resume the Vietnam-era lineage of the 503d Infantry battalions under the 173d Airborne Brigade.[8] The colors of the 1st Battalion, 508th Infantry were moved to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina to serve under the 82d Airborne Division.[7] Immediately after its transformation, the brigade began intensive training in both Germany and Italy to prepare itself for future deployments.[9]

In 2006, the brigade was notified for a second tour of duty in Iraq during 2007–2008, but its deployment plan was changed to Afghanistan in February 2007 when the Pentagon announced that it would relieve the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division along with the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.[10] In the spring of 2007, the 173d ABCT again deployed to Afghanistan, as Task Force Bayonet, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF 07–09),[10] their first deployment as a fully transformed brigade combat team. The brigade was dispersed throughout the east of the country, with units operating in Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar, and Laghman Provinces.[10] The 173d ABCT officially relieved the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division on 6 June 2007.[10]

The 173d participated in various operations with the objective of ensuring security and subduing Taliban insurgents in the mountainous regions along Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, one of these being Operation Rock Avalanche near the Hindu Kush.[11] Throughout their 15-month deployment, the brigade participated in more than 9,000 patrols throughout the region.[12] Only two weeks before the brigade was to return to Italy, a platoon of 45 soldiers from the brigade stationed in the Dara-I-Pech district was caught in an ambush by 100–200 insurgents, the Battle of Wanat.[13] Though the platoon was able to drive the insurgents back with air support, the fight resulted in 9 soldiers killed and 16 wounded; the deadliest attack on troops in the country since 2005.[14] The brigade repositioned the base three days later.[12][15] The 173rd's tour ended in July 2008, and the entire brigade returned to Italy by the end of that month.[13]

The brigade began its fourth deployment to Afghanistan in early 2010.[16]

On 17 June 2015 the Special Troops Battalion, 173d ABCT was officially reflagged as the 54th Engineer Battalion,[2] a unit with a lineage separate from that of the STB, 173d ABCT.[17]

Honors[edit | edit source]

Unit decorations[edit | edit source]

The Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team has never received a unit decoration from the United States military.[5]

Campaign streamers[edit | edit source]

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan 2007–2008

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "173rd Airborne Brigade: Sky Soldiers". http://www.skysoldiers.army.mil/#leadership. Retrieved 9 August 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "54th Engineer Battalion | Lineage and Honors | U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH)". http://www.history.army.mil/html/forcestruc/lineages/branches/eng/0054enbn.htm. Retrieved 2017-07-15. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "173d Airborne Brigade "Sky Soldiers"". GlobalSecurity.org. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/173abnbde.htm. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  4. "Special Troops Battalion, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Homepage: Organization". 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team Staff. http://www.173abnbde.setaf.army.mil/special_troops_bn/companies.htm. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "GlobalSecurity.org: 173rd Special Troops Battalion". GlobalSecurity. http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/army/173abnbde-stb.htm. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  6. "The Institute of Heraldry: 173rd Special Troops Battalion". The Institute of Heraldry. Archived from the original on 3 June 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080603001128/http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/STB/STB173AirborneBrigade.htm. Retrieved 15 July 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 "173D Airborne Brigade Combat Team". The Institute of Heraldry. Archived from the original on 3 January 2008. https://web.archive.org/web/20080103070120/http://www.tioh.hqda.pentagon.mil/Abn/173AirborneBrigadeCombatTeam.htm. Retrieved 18 January 2008. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Ziezulewicz, Geoff. Ceremony makes it official: 173rd Airborne Brigade is a combat team, US Army News Service. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  9. Millham, Aimee. Infantry Training Reinforces Combat Skills Archived 2 May 2008 at the Wayback Machine., DefendAmerica.mil press service. Retrieved on 2 May 2008.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Vogt, Melissa (16 February 2007). "173rd Airborne heading to Afghanistan". Army Times. http://www.armytimes.com/news/2007/02/AT173rd070214/. Retrieved 24 April 2008. 
  11. "Moving forward with the 173rd Airborne". Press-Republican. 29 October 2007. http://www.pressrepublican.com/0214_guest%20Column/local_story_302231534.html. Retrieved 22 February 2008. 
  12. 12.0 12.1 St. Clair, Mark. Commander: Media reports on Afghanistan outpost battle were exaggerated, Mark St. Clair, Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 20 July 2008
  13. 13.0 13.1 Martinez, Luis. "ABC News: Even 500 Lbs Bombs Couldn't Stop Taliban". ABC News. http://abcnews.go.com/International/Story?id=5373104&page=1. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  14. Starr, Barbara (16 July 2008). "'Heroic' fighting repels Afghan militants - CNN.com". CNN. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/07/14/afghan.violence/index.html. Retrieved 20 September 2009. 
  15. "U.S. troops quit remote Afghan base after attack". MSNBC. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25698636/. Retrieved 16 July 2008. 
  16. Packnett, Lee. "Army Prepares for Next Rotations in OEF". US Army Public Affairs. http://www.army.mil/-newsreleases/2009/07/14/24343-army-prepares-for-next-rotations-in-oef/index.html. Retrieved 16 July 2009. 
  17. [1]

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