Story By: 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy & Capt. Martha Nigrelle

Posted: March 2, 2015

Courtesy Photo Soldiers with the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, during a Warfighter exercise at Fort Hood. During the three-week exercise, brigade soldiers provided engineer support to III Corps at Fort Hood.
Courtesy Photo
Soldiers with the 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard, during a Warfighter exercise at Fort Hood. During the three-week exercise, brigade soldiers provided engineer support to III Corps at Fort Hood.

FORT HOOD, Texas – The Texas Army National Guard’s 176th Engineer Brigade worked alongside its active duty partners at III Corps during a war fighter exercise Feb. 2-11, 2015, at Fort Hood. 

The exercise, a large-scale simulated war zone, not only tested the brigade’s capabilities, but also provided an opportunity to identify any gaps that can potentially affect responsiveness while maintaining a ready force.

“We’re doing the full spectrum of operations – combat support, combat service support and combat engineering,” said Col. Tracy Norris, commander, 176th Engineer Brigade, Texas Army National Guard.

The brigade is traditionally a corps-level engineering asset, which means it can be attached to an Army corps and deployed in support of theater-level engineering operations. 

“This exercise has been really effective because the brigade is a corps-level asset and any opportunity to work side-by-side with an Army corps helps us to train on the skill sets we need in case we are called into action,” said Col. Charles Schoening, 176th Engineer Brigade deputy commander. 

The brigade’s integration with III Corps is part of the total force concept, integrating active, Reserve and National Guard components.

“It’s great having Colonel Norris and her team plugged in because it generates combat readiness for us,” said Col. Jim Markert, assistant chief of staff for Operations, III Corps. “It makes us better at III Corps and it makes them better, too.”

In the three-week exercise, the brigade trained on how to conduct operations from a headquarters level. This allowed the staff to do all the tasks they would need to do in a deployed environment.

The exercise took place at Fort Hood and Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, and encompassed numerous brigades, as well as staffs from the 1st and 38th Infantry Divisions. The simulated warfare spread across a notional country the size of Afghanistan. 

Given the scope and fast-paced nature of the exercise, the brigade demonstrated its ability to succeed in any task or mission given to them, said Markert.

One unique capability of the brigade is their multi-role bridging company. With only two of these companies in the active duty component, training with this asset is a valuable opportunity for units like III Corps.

“A highlight for me was using their bridging assets,” said Markert. “In an offensive operation, we have to; we can’t do it without bridging assets. We are absolutely reliant on them if we go right into a big war.”

“This exercise was important because it demonstrates our capabilities of working shoulder-to-shoulder with the active duty,” said Maj. Gen. John F. Nichols, the adjutant general-Texas. “We owe a great big thank you to III Corps for taking us under their wing and look forward to continuing this partnership.”