June 19, 2008

Richmond-based Engineer Headquarters ordered to federal active duty

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

RICHMOND – The Virginia Army National Guard’s Richmond-based 276th Engineer Battalion Headquarters has been ordered to federal active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to an announcement made June 16 by Maj. Gen. Robert. B. Newman, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia. Approximately 190 Soldiers will enter active federal service in November 2008 and conduct training at Camp Shelby, Miss., prior to deploying to Afghanistan.

“Once again, Soldiers from the Virginia National Guard will answer our nation’s call to do their part in Global War on Terror,” Newman said. “Engineers have a critical mission in Afghanistan, and I am confident in the abilities of the leaders and Soldiers of the 276th to execute their assigned missions effectively.”

A large number of mobilizing Soldiers are from the Richmond area, but approximately 20 Soldiers are from the Northern Virginia area, 20 are from the Hampton Roads area, 10 are from the Fredericksburg area, five are from the Lynchburg area and five are from the Charlottesville-Staunton area.

Additional Background Information:

The 276th Engineer Battalion last deployed from March 2004 to March 2005 when the entire battalion served in Iraq. With this deployment, the battalion headquarters and the forward support company (FSC) of the 276 Engineer Battalion will mobilize. The battalion headquarters will provide command and control for the FSC and three engineer companies from other states. Engineer companies from California, Michigan and Wisconsin will join the battalion headquarters at Camp Shelby for the final train up prior to heading to Afghanistan.

The West Point-based 237th Engineer Company of the 276th Engineer Battalion is currently serving in Iraq, and the Powhatan-based 180th Engineer Company of the 276th is scheduled to deploy later this year.

Soldiers from the 276th will begin an extended period of active duty training at Fort Pickett starting in September, and they will train there until they move to Camp Shelby to continue their pre-mobilization training.

The unit’s specific mission has not been released at this time, but in general terms, engineers in Afghanistan are tasked to perform a variety of mobility and counter-mobility missions for combat operations and logistical resupply. Mobility missions include breaching obstacles and ensuring supply routes are clear and able to support traffic, and counter-mobility missions include developing and emplacing obstacles that would limit the mobility of hostile forces.

Soldiers in the battalion headquarters will provide logistical and administrative support like maintenance, mail and medical services and food service operations for the three assigned engineer companies. The headquarters can also deploy two command posts to exercise battle command in dispersed locations to support combat operations.

The three assigned engineer companies are known as “sapper” companies. In addition to being able to conduct engineer missions like demolitions, sapper companies are also trained to fight as light infantry Soldiers.

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