3d Armored Division Engineers Introduction
3d Armored Division Engineer Brigade
in Operation Desert Storm
Desert Storm saw one of the first practical implementations of the Division Engineer Brigade (or E-Force) concept, although the concept had seen some use during REFORGER 1990 ("Return of Forces Germany" – a major, annual USAREUR exercise). During Desert Storm, this Division Engineer Brigade was commanded by COL John Morris, attached to the 3d Armored Division from the Buffalo District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Prior to 1990, a single engineer battalion was assigned to a division. This level of engineer support was considered inadequate for most operations, and engineer brigades and/or battalions from Corps would normally be placed under operational control (OPCON) of divisions. The Division Engineer Brigade concept placed three fully mechanized battalions in the organic structure of the heavy division, with one engineer battalion generally supporting one maneuver brigade. During Desert Storm, the Division Engineer Brigade consisted of the 23d Engineer Battalion (originally organic to 3AD) and the 12th Engineer Battalion. The third engineer battalion was created by taking two companies from the 12th Engineer Battalion and forming TF 33 Engineers (Provisional) under the command of MAJ(P) Eric Mogren, the Executive Officer of 12th Engineer Battalion. The name TF33 was derived from 3d Brigade, 3d Armored Division. The name "Thunder Echo" was derived (we believe) from the 3d Brigade's name ("Thunder Brigade") and the first letter of the word "Engineer" – Echo.
(As an aside, the 1st Armored Division used similar organization, creating a provisional engineer battalion commanded by MAJ Larry Deren composed of companies from two other engineer battalions).
During combat operations, the engineer units of 3AD were task organized as follows:
- 12 Engineer Battalion (-) (DS 1st BDE) – (this included HHC and B Co.)
- A/12 EN to TF 23 EN (DS 2d BDE)
- C/12 EN and D/12 EN to TF 33 Engineers (DS 3d BDE) – (some HHC/12 EN personnel)
- 23d Engineer Battalion (-) (DS 2d BDE)
- B/23 EN to TF 12 EN (DS 1st BDE)
- C/23 EN (-) to 4-7 CAV (attached DIV CAV Squadron)
The 926th Engineer Group (Constr) (USAR) and it's commander, COL Charles Ingram, also contributed to the effort of the 3rd Amd Div in ODS. The Group commanded elements of the 92nd Engr Bn (C)(H) (AC) and firefighting and well drilling detachments. Their mission was to construct resupply routes immediately behind the advancing Armor units. They were initially tasked in Direct Support, but were attached for a short period of time so they could proudly wear the 3AD patch on their right shoulder. The headquarters was co-located with the D-Rear. Being good engineers, they were able to provide hot showers to Division HQ personnel while on the advance.
If anyone out there has a better handle on the task organization of the 23rd and/or 12th Engineer Battalion, please let us know so we can properly reflect the history of 3AD Engineers in Desert Storm.
See the unit links on the left side of this page to view the rosters of 3AD Engineer units in Operation Desert Storm.