Story by: Capt. Maria Mengrone, 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard
Posted On: Feb. 09, 2017
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait – Approximately 135 Soldiers of the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard continue to provide command and control of more than 1,600 Active Duty, National Guard and Army Reserve engineer forces across the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility while deployed.
“This is a historic mission for the engineer brigade. This is the first time an engineer brigade headquarters has had this type of mission in a contingency environment,” said 176th Engineer Brigade Commander, Col. Charles Schoening, a resident of Georgetown, Texas.
Since arriving in theater, the brigade tackled many challenges in order to develop operational capability.
“The greatest challenge we initially faced was not having our network infrastructure and connectivity in place,” said Schoening. “We overcame these shortfalls and were able to become fully operationally capable within the first 30 days.”
The brigade is responsible for engineer forces spanning eight countries in 19 separate locations.
“Our primary focus is providing command and control for engineer missions in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. This includes providing support for our down trace battalions and companies. Since arriving in theater, we have made it possible for battalion and company commanders to conduct battlefield circulation, and we immediately started pushing our brigade resources, such as behavioral health, religious services support, and medical support to all the different locations,” said Schoening.
Many of the missions across the various countries are heavily focused on general engineer construction tasks.
“We are in charge of troop labor construction planning; we help the stakeholders plan the project all the way through execution,” said Lt. Col. Robert Crockem Jr., operations officer of the 176th Eng. Bde. and native of New Orleans, La.
To facilitate the execution of the engineer projects the brigade assigned portfolio managers to each area of operation.
“Our portfolio managers coordinate with stakeholders to understand their requirements and we help them build those requirements into construction projects. Once coordinated we push the project through the funding process to get materials and then start tasking our battalions against that,” said Crockem.
The brigade also touts a ready and equipped geospatial team that utilizes geographic data to compile maps which support military engineer operations.
“We provide geospatial products that enhance decision making,” said Warrant Officer 1 Steven Machado, geospatial technician and native of Hobbs, N.M.
“We have received positive feedback because we are able to provide perspective on the ground for the entire CENTCOM area of responsibility,” said Machado.
Allowing movements across the various regions is required to obtain critical data to assist in the planning process.
“We survey different base camps and use our instruments to map out what you see on the ground,” said Spc. Quincy Daniels, technical engineer, 176th En. Bde. and native of Dallas, Texas.
“We then get important to know information for things like drainage flow,” said Daniels.
The arrival of the engineer brigade also helped serve as a conduit to assist its two battalions in prioritizing its various missions.
Additionally, the brigade provides liaison officers to help support and build the various higher command relationships, and provide visibility of future construction requirements.
“There is a lot of pride in the work being done. Our Soldiers are motivated and there are a lot of eyes on the work that they are doing. They are doing everything they can to make Texas proud,” said Schoening.
The headquarters element of the 176th Engineer Brigade is a Texas Army National Guard unit based in Grand Prairie, Texas. The unit is serving a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield, Operation Inherent Resolve, and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.