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NEWS | Feb. 25, 2021

177th Brigade Engineer Battalion brings diverse skills to 48th IBCT

By Capt. Bryant Wine 48th IBCT

In a brigade of infantry, cavalry and artillery battalions, one battalion distinguishes itself through the diverse and varied skills it brings to the fight. Don’t let the word “engineer” in 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion (BEB) fool you. Fortress Battalion provides more than just engineering assets critical to supporting the entire 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT).

“The 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion is the storehouse for capabilities that enable the brigade to execute freedom of maneuver, counter mobility and survivability on the battlefield,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Dan Chicola, the battalion commander of the 177th Brigade Engineer Battalion. “The 177th BEB serves as a command network for echelons above brigade enablers that are provided to the brigade based on mission requirements.”

Headquartered in Statesboro, Georgia, the Georgia Army National Guard’s 177th BEB is the most diverse battalion in the 48th IBCT. In addition to fielding two engineer companies in Glennville and Douglas, Fortress also wields a signal company in Macon, a military intelligence company in Forest Park and a forward support company (FSC) in Metter.

Famously known as “sappers,” combat engineer platoons in the engineer companies provide the 48th IBCT with capabilities to breach and overcome obstacles necessary to enable the quick-moving infantry battalions. The engineer companies also possess horizontal engineers and route clearance squads to clear structures, roadways and bridges necessary to keep the brigade on the move.

Fortress is the only battalion in the 48th IBCT to have signal and military intelligence companies. The signal company is collocated with the brigade headquarters in Macon, Georgia, so that it can facilitate communications between the brigade commander, the battalions and higher headquarters.

Simply called the “MICO,” the military intelligence company utilizes platoons of Soldiers to collect and analyze information crucial to the brigade mission. The MICO also employs the Tactical Unmanned Aerial Surveillance (TUAS) platoon to fly the RQ-7B Shadow drone for purposes of conducting intelligence collection, reconnaissance and surveillance.

Though assigned to the Macon-based 148th Brigade Support Battalion, Echo FSC is attached to the 177th BEB to provide the battalion support needed to sustain operations. This includes a platoon designated to distribute supplies, a platoon of mechanics to maintain the battalion’s armada of vehicles and a field feeding platoon that cooks meals for the BEB’s Soldiers.

Fortress has a proven reputation showing how diverse skillsets allow the battalion to accomplish state and federal missions.

In 2019, elements from the 177th BEB deployed to Afghanistan with the 48th IBCT in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Only months after redeployment, engineers from across the battalion went overseas again in 2020 to the country of Georgia to train with multinational counterparts at exercise Noble Partner 20.

These real-world, overseas missions occurred simultaneously while the 177th BEB responded to domestic needs. Along with combatting the spread of COVID-19 by forming infection control teams, operating testing sites and supporting food banks, the battalion also employed Soldiers to ensure safe and peaceful protests throughout 2020. Most recently, Fortress sent Soldiers to Washington DC to support local and federal agencies during the inauguration of President Joseph Biden.

Fortress is an example of how diversity of skills and people promote strength in the Georgia Army National Guard. The 177th BEB has proven it can accomplish any mission at home and abroad due to the diversity organic to the battalion.

“It is an honor to lead these Soldiers,” said Chicola. “When you combine all of the civilian skillsets that our Soldiers have together, this is a tremendously talented group of patriotic Americans that are successful in whatever they do.”