FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (April 23, 2014) -- The 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) is beginning Operation Agile Eagle II, designed to localize and implement the larger Department of the Army-directed Brigade Combat Team 2020 initiative.
This overarching move is part of a plan that will reduce the overall strength of the Army in order to meet future requirements, officials said. Much like the previous brigade modularization undertaken in the mid-2000s, they said Brigade Combat Team 2020, known as BCT 2020, will add additional assets to the brigades and the division to increase their autonomy and enhance their abilities to meet future mission requirements.
"The addition of a third maneuver battalion in each brigade combat team adds to the ability of the division to respond to the needs of the Army with a more robust force to meet mission requirements," said Maj. Gen. James McConville, commander, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). "It also puts more combat Soldiers into units and reduces the overhead of staff."
Additionally, the brigades are standing up brigade engineer battalions, adding an increased range of ability to the commanders to address a wide range of mission challenges.
In addition to adding a third infantry battalion and a brigade engineer battalion to each BCT, the artillery units will also reorganize to composite battalions, which will each have two batteries of 105mm howitzers, and one battery of 155mm howitzers.
The division has already begun adapting to meet the new model by recently inactivating the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd BCT, and reflagging it as the 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion and reorganizing the 3rd Battalion, 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd BCT, to a composite artillery formation.
Last week, the 1st Special Troops Battalion of 1st Brigade Combat Team inactivated and transformed to the 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion. This week, the 4th BCT will inactivate as part of the realignment effort.
"As part of the Army's 2020 model, the division is reducing the 4th Brigade Combat Team and realigning its two infantry battalions under the 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams and distributing the remaining elements across the division," said McConville.
The division recently conducted Operation Golden Eagle, the first brigade-size air assault training operation in more than a decade at Fort Campbell that highlighted the capabilities of a brigade under the new BCT 2020 model.
In addition to increasing the division's ability to meet mission requirements, the reorganization also allows the history and lineage of some of the Army's most distinguished units to live on, McConville said.
"We are able to preserve the history and lineage of some of the Army's most highly decorated units with the retention of the 506th Infantry Regiment," he said.
Following the transition of the 1st and 2nd BCTs to the new BCT 2020 model and the activation of the division artillery, the division expects to meet the Army-directed goal of Sept. 30, 2015.
"The end state is that by 2015, we'll be completely transformed to three maneuver brigades," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Manny Vasquez, the lead planner for Agile Eagle II.