Less is More: Long Knives combine two engineer companies
October 15, 2009
FORT HOOD, Texas - With their newly created company guidon waiving back and forth on a windy and rainy afternoon, the approximately 200 Combat Engineers stood at a modified position of attention during the Company C, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division "Long Knives" activation ceremony, held behind the company headquarters on Fort Hood Oct. 7.
The 4th BSTB, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div. Commander, Lt. Col. Eric Land, explained how merging two engineer units into one company will be beneficial for the combat team.
"They're going to add a heck of a lot of capabilities for the brigade commander to draw on and allocate to his units across the area of operations," said Land during an interview after the ceremony. "So it's exciting."
When the two Company E's from 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and 2nd Battalion, 12 Cavalry Regiment, 4th BCT, 1st Cav. Div., were deployed in Southern Iraq earlier this year, each conducted route clearance missions and built new operating bases, but their areas of responsibility was distinctly different.
Many of these Soldiers will be working together during the brigade's next deployment, which was recently announced by the Department of Defense to begin in the summer of 2010, now that they've merged to become Co. C.
"We were kind of restricted by what battalion we were in the last time [while in Iraq]. So combining us allows the brigade a lot more flexibility," said Capt. Ian O'Sullivan, from Silverdale, Wash.
But with the added flexibility, the unit's leadership is faced with the challenge of building team cohesion.
"That's probably the biggest thing right now in the first 90 days is building the new teams," said Capt. Jesse Anderson, Co. C's commander. "The short answer to that is keeping the teams intact for the most part, but shuffling up those teams within the platoons and companies as a whole."
However, many of the unit's Soldiers, such as Spc. Terrell Dustin, believe combining the companies will eventually increase unit cohesion. "It's good to see all the engineers together," said Dustin, from Waco, Texas. "It's because we're all one MOS now."
"We can accomplish a lot if we work together," said Staff Sgt. Darryl McKnight from San Antonio. McKnight received a unit achievement coin after the ceremony for his exemplary efforts while integrating the two units during the past few months.
He is a Combat Engineer, with nine years of military experience, and four deployments under his belt. "It's a much bigger company to handle the route clearance and base improvements during the next deployment," McKnight added.