By Devon L. Suits; Army News ServiceSeptember 19, 2019
WASHINGTON --- Soldiers assigned to the 20th Engineer Brigade recently completed a nine-month deployment in which they supported operations in nine different countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility and saved the U.S. government close to $49 million in construction costs.
"Our sappers, builders, mappers, divers, and firefighters are some of the best in the world at their craft," said Col. Patrick Sullivan, 20th Eng. Bde. commander. "Their mission accomplishments over the past year have proven that they are each tough, humble, enterprising, and ready experts -- always and in all ways."
While headquartered in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, the 20th Eng. Bde. was the first Army Central Command theater engineering brigade to manage Soldiers and equipment across three combatant commands.
From August 2018 to April 2019, the 20th Eng. Bde. provided support in Kuwait, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar during Operation Spartan Shield. The brigade also participated in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria, and Operation Freedom Sentinel in Afghanistan.
In total, the brigade completed 232 construction projects and 187 designs, focusing mostly on force protection enhancements and quality of life improvements. Sullivan and Command Sgt. Maj. John Brennan, the 20th Eng. Bde. senior enlisted advisor, discussed their team's recent success during an Army Current Operations Engagement Tour at the Pentagon, Wednesday.
Some significant engineering accomplishments include the construction of a large holding yard in Kuwait designed to receive equipment and material, he said. Additionally, 20th Eng. Bde. units provided a route clearance capability to Special Operations forces in Syria.
The brigade also developed "advising platforms" for the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade in Afghanistan. To complete these platforms, engineering Soldiers performed grade and fill work and, at times, laid concrete pads at several pre-existing base locations within the region, Sullivan said.
"This allowed the [2nd SFAB] to come in with their force protection and sustainment equipment and build themselves a small [and secure] operating base," Sullivan said.
During the peak of operations, more than 90 percent of the brigade was either deployed, or on notice to depart, Sullivan said. Further, personnel from the Guard and Reserve accounted for nearly half of the brigade's deployed capabilities.
"We are a modular formation," Sullivan said. "When we deploy, we receive units from different locations, different [components,] depending on whatever decisions Forces Command makes to source against the operational requirements."
Many Guard and Reserve Soldiers leveraged their civilian construction and engineering skills while deployed, he said. In turn, working together as a total force produced numerous training opportunities for active-duty personnel, Sullivan added.
"We found these pockets of excellence, and we were able to position and utilize them in ways that amplified our mission in incredible ways," Sullivan said.
"It was such a joy to be able to integrate that into our force structure and have Soldiers ... learn from their example," he added.
While overseas, the 20th Eng. Bde. maintained authority over three engineering battalions stationed in the U.S.
At one point, brigade leadership orchestrated four no-notice deployments in support of homeland defense operations along the border to reinforce ports of entry in California, Arizona, and Texas.
Additionally, the engineering brigade provided personnel to assist with hurricane response efforts in the wake of Hurricanes Florence, Michael, and Dorian, he said. The 20th Eng. Bde. worked in tandem with U.S. Army North and the Army Corps of Engineers and helped remove debris and repair critical infrastructure in each region.
In all, 20th Eng. Bde. Soldiers deployed to 9 counties in CENTOM, conducted firefighter operations in Romania and Bulgaria, and supported operations in the U.S., Sullivan said.
"We are proud to say that the sun never sets on the 20th Eng. Bde. as we continue to answer our nation's call to duty."