By Sgt. Catherine Graham, 890th Eng. Bn., 225th Eng. Bde., 1st Cav. Div., MND-BMarch 18, 2009
CAMP LIBERTY, Iraq - On March 18, another chapter came to a close in the history of the 890th Engineer Battalion, 225th Engineer Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Multi-National Division-Baghdad, as the 'Stingray' leaders assembled their Soldiers to hand over their mission in the Baghdad area to the 4th Engineer Battalion from Fort Carson, Colo. in a transfer of authority ceremony.
The ceremony marked the official transfer of operations to the 4th Eng Bn. and signified the end of a 12-month deployment for the Soldiers of the 890th Eng. Bn. in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 08-10.
"The Soldiers of the 890th Eng. Bn. have performed magnificently. They have overcome many challenges and contributed to the success of not only the Coalition Forces, but also have assisted in adding to the legitimacy of the Government of Iraq," said Lt. Col. Joe D. Hargett, commander of the 890th Eng. Bn. "I would like to wish the 4th Eng. Bn. the best of luck and Godspeed as they take over this very important mission."
This is not the first Iraq deployment for the 890th Eng. Bn. from Gulfport, Miss., but it is the first under the Army's modularity concept. The battalion consisted of the Headquarters Support Company and A Co., Forward Support Company, of the 890th En. Bn., from the Mississippi National Guard, the 836th Engineer Sapper Company from the Texas National Guard, the 688th Engineer Mobility Augmentation Company from the Army Reserves out of Arkansas and the 848th Engineer Sapper Company from the Georgia National Guard.
For the last two weeks, Soldiers of the 890th Eng. Bn. imparted the knowledge of what they have learned throughout their deployment to the 4th Engineers to create a seamless transfer.
The 'Stingray' battalion's mission began with their arrival to Camp Liberty, Iraq in June 2008. The battalion assumed control over the route clearance missions and assured mobility from the 107th Engineer Battalion of the Michigan Army National Guard serving under the 926th Engineer Brigade, 4th Infantry Division.
The Stingrays made several improvements to their operations in theater throughout their tour. One of the significant milestones was by working with the 6th Iraqi Army Regiment's leadership to establish a dynamic partnership with the IA to initiate an aggressive training program that would prepare the IA as a self-sustaining route clearance team.
U.S. Soldiers instructed their Iraqi counterparts in counter-insurgency operations and supervised their progress. Following the graduation of the initial class of IA Soldiers, the IA Regiment introduced their first piece of route clearance equipment into patrols and conducted numerous combined missions that resulted in increased proficiency of the Iraqi Soldiers.
This in turn, protected the people of Iraq from insurgent activity and improved the confidence of the local population in their leadership and local Iraqi Security Forces.
Another mission target was the inception of route sanitation missions. Though a partnership with a sister battalion, the 46th Engineer Battalion from Fort Polk, La.,, route clearance patrols began using construction assets to remove debris off the routes. The route sanitation partnerships reduced the amount of repetitive improvised explosive device interrogations and contributed to the beautification of the Baghdad area. The tactics and practices for this operation were published to the Center for Army Lessons Learned for future leaders to benefit from.
The 890th had many other key innovative successes throughout its deployment in its area of operations with numerous munitions finds, the capture of insurgents, use of experimental surveillance technology, equipment improvements and the establishment of a combat recovery course.
The 890th Eng. Bn. will depart the theater for re-deployment with its many successes and zero casualties to add to its books.
"The Soldiers of the 890th Engineer Battalion have set the standard for route clearance missions in the Multi-National Division-Baghdad area. The equipment that Congress approved and delivered for our missions has saved many lives and gave the Soldiers the tools needed to perform their missions safely," said Command Sgt. Maj. Larry Mergenschroer. "I also would like to thank each Soldier of the 890th for their hard work and also the hometowns of Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, and Arkansas that gave much needed support to the Soldiers."