The longest period of overseas duty was during the Cold War when the 299th was reactivated in Hoechst, Germany in 1954. In 1958 the 299th was assigned to support Task Force 201, of the Marine Corps in a show of support for Lebanon. When the Marines made their famous landing, the 299th was already working at the Beirut Airport repairing runways which had been bombed so severely that it could not support landings by large airplanes. These would be required to bring in supplies necessary to support the Marines after their well publicized invasion. After a few months in Lebanon, the unit returned to Germany and participated in all exercises and alerts of the Cold War. In 1963 they were returned to the United States where they engaged in improvements to Fort Gordon, Georgia.
1963-1965 Fort Gordon
1965-1971 Synopsis of the 299th in Vietnam
On 16 July 1965, the 299th Engineer Battalion was alerted for movement overseas to the Republic of Vietnam. During August and September of 1965, the battalion received new vehicles, equipment, and filler personnel. The main body departed Fort Gordon, GA, on 27 September 1965 by troop train bound for Oakland, CA, and from there by ship aboard the USNS General Edwin D Patrick for the rest of the journey. The advance party departed from Savannah, GA, by air on two C-130 aircraft on 28 September 1965 and arrived in Vietnam on 1 Oct 1965. The main body of the battalion arrived at Qui Nhon on 22 Oct 65, and was assigned to the 937th Engineer Group. A battalion bivouac site was immediately established in the Phu Tai Valley, about 10 miles southwest of Qui Nhon. On 1 Nov 65, the battalion began its first project, the repair of Route 19 to An Khe, the main supply route to the 1st Cavalry Division. Shortly afterwards the battalion was assigned other combat engineer projects in support of the 3rd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division in the vicinity of Pleiku, the Republic of Korea's "Tiger" Division near Qui Nhon, and logistical units of the USASC in the vicinity of Qui Nhon. In July 1965, the headquarters element joined the remainder of the battalion in the Pleiku area where the principal construction projects included the 18th Surgical Hospital, the aircraft maintenance facility at Camp Holloway, and the logistical depot complex at Artillery Hill.
Tet Offensive. The switch from base camp development projects to combat support took place in August 1966 when the battalion participated in Operation Paul Revere II in support of the 1st Cav Div south of Pleiku. Operational support continued through October 1966 with the construction of a Special Forces camp at isolated Duc Co, as well as upgrading and repair of Route 19 and the airfield at Kontum and Dak To. The Bn was engaged in general engineer support, maintenance of roads, bridges and airfields in the Pleiku area until June 1967. During the initial stages of Operation Horace Greeley Company B moved to Dak To in support of the 4th Infantry Division and the 173rd Airborne Brigade.
Company D Assigned. On june 1967, the 299th received a TO&E cnange and Company D was assigned as an additional Company. Until that time, from Feb 67 til then, Company D had assisted the 20th Engr Bn with work at Camp Enari. They had been originally Co C, 31st Engr Bn (Ft Bliss, TX) and came to VN by ship, disembarking at Qui Nhon (USNS Barrett) unloading equipment then convoying to Pleiku where they were assigned to the 299th as D Company. Shortly after Company D was assigned to the 299th Engr Bn, the 15th Engr Co was attached to the battalion. Arriving in Qui Nhon on 25 July 67, an advanced party moved by vehicle into Pleiku while the remaining personnel supervised the unloading of vehicles and equipment. The 15th was then moved to Dak To and began full support of Operation Horace Greeley. Company B had moved to Kontum and began work on the 43rd Signal compound erecting permanent structures. September 67 saw Company B move into Kontum while Co D moved to Dak To and Co C moved into Ben Het, continuing support of the 4th Infantry Div and the 173rd AB Bde, in operation Douglas MacArthur.
During Nov 67, the battalion was totally committed to the Battle of Dak To. Ambushes, mining incidents, and mortar attacks took their toll of battalion personnel and equipment. Company B lost 6 men and had 4 wounded when a work party was ambushed on Route 14. The 15th Engr Co saw its entire company area leveled during the mortar attack on Dak To on 15 Nov 67. During this period of constant enemy harassment, the Ben Het Airfield was upgraded to handle the continual flow of the C-130 aircraft, and Route 14 from Kontum to Dak To was kept open for convoy traffic. For its participation in the Battle of Dak To, the 299th Engineer Battlion received the 18th Engineer Brigade Commander's Unit Citation. On 15 Oct 67, Co A moved into Dak To from Pleiku and assisted the 15th Engr Co in upgrading Route 512 from Route 14 to Dak To.
Tet Offensive. The beginning of the New Year 1968 saw some of the most intense fighting in the Vietnam War when the Tet holiday erupted into a major offensive. Company B, located in Kontum, found itself surrounded for the better part of 6 days and repulsed numerous enemy attempts to overrun its compound. In Dak To, similar scenes were being enacted as the enemy tried time and time again to destroy the Dak To airfield.
The Battalion Begins to move. Company C returned from Ben Het to the Pleiku base camp on 3 Feb 1968 and undertook projects in that area. On 20 Mar 69, the first platoon from Company C arrived at the Special Forces camp at Dak Pek to upgrade the existing thousand foot by fifty foot airfield and parking ramp. Another major move occurred on 11 May 68, as Company B moved its 1st and 2nd platoons plus headquarters platoon into Dak To and Company C moved into Kontum, being joined there by the 1st platoon, back from the recently completed Dak Pek project. The latter part of July 68 saw the entire battalion staff shift its center of operations into the Dak To area as the battalion base camp in Pleiku was turned over to the 124th Transportation Battalion.
Projects Begin. After the shift of locations, the battalion began full time operations to maintain and upgrade Routes QL 14 and 512. All companies were involved in this major project. The line companies were directly responsible for this operation with HQ and HQ Co and the 15th Engr Co giving support in the form of men and equipment. As part of this operation, bridges had to be built and maintained and the roads and culvert systems brought up to standards. During this time a large amount of airfield work was done by the battalion as part of its main mission. Airfields at Dak To, Kontum, and Dak Seang were upgraded and kept in operation even during the worst of the monsoon season.
Operational Support Continues. Along with this major group of projects, the battalion also continued to support the 1st brigade of the 4th Infantry Div as part of Operation Douglas MacArthur. The battalion constructed barracks and living quarters, bunkers, and artillery positions for the brigade. Because of the constant road construction and repair the battalion was engaged in, it was necessary for the battalion to obtain large amounts of rock. In order to meet this need, a rock quarry was opened at Dien Binh. The 15th Engineer Co continued to give full cooperation with the rock crusher to increase the amount of usable rock produced as the need increased.
Civil Action. During this period a number of civic action programs and self help projects were put into action by the battalion. Including was medical help to the nearby villages in the Dak To area, construction support in the form of personnel and equipment, and technical assistance whenever necessary. Among the jobs completed in conjunction with this undertaking were the construction of a football field for the orphanage in Dien Binh, a school for the village of Tan Canh, and a church in Dak Chu. Beginning in November all companies in the battalion began construction of new bunkers and defense facilities within their cantonments in preparation for the coming TET holiday. The TET offensive conducted during late Jan early February inflicted considerable damage on the village of Tanh Canh and in the Dak To base camp. Enemy activity continued to increase in the Dak To area all through 1968. The battalion encountered mines almost daily during road construction, and mortars fell frequently inside the fire base. By Oct 68, the battalion headquarters had completed its move to the Dak To-Tanh Canh area from Pleiku. Only a few soldiers, comprising a rear processing detachment and supply and maintenance liaison teams, remained in Pleiku on a permanent basis. During Aug 68 through Oct 68 a total of 81 mines were found in the battalion's area of operations; vehicles struck 19, the Voluntary Informant Program located another 19, and 43 were discovered by battalion minesweeps. Enemy action damaged 2 engineer vehicles and wounded 13 engineers.
Near the end of Jan 69, major shifts in unit locations occurred. The moves were precipitated by the departure of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division from Dak To Firebase. The 299th Bn, as the only major US troop unit maintaining a base camp of any size in Northern Kontum Province, was given the mission of general defense of Dak To Firebase. This was basically an infantry mission. Company A and Company D were located at Dak To Firebase; Companies B and C were located at Kontum. The departure of 1st Bde, 4th Infantry Div from Dak To created problems for completion of the engineer mission. Manpower resources already committed on road projects stretching from Kontum through Dak To to Ben Het Special Forces Camp, were further thinned by security requirements. Enemy activity increased sharply again, with 82 separate incidents of mines, small arms, mortar or rocket attacks and infiltrations of base camps in the sector between Nov 68 and Jan 69. The 299th continued to provide direct combat support to American and ARVN units in the Dak To-Ben Het area into July 1969, countering heavy enemy activity. For its part in the battle of Dak To-Ben Het, the battalion received the Valorous Unit Award with the following citation:
“Elements of the 299th Engineer Battalion and its attached unit distinguished themselves by extraordinary heroism while engaged in military operations during the period 9 May 1969, to 1 July 1969. Assigned the tasks of securing the Dak To airstrip and fire base and of keeping vital roadways open to convoy traffic, unit personnel conducted daily mine sweep operations and ensured the movement of much needed water and ammunition to the isolated outpost of Ben Het. In the course of completing their primary mission, the men of the 299th Engineer Battalion were continually subjected to attacks and ambushes by a numerically superior enemy force operating in the area. On the morning of 7 June 1969, a Company D mine sweep party was ambushed by a well-equipped and determined foe using automatic weapons. Courageously returning the fire, the engineers held the enemy at bay as they awaited assistance. A reaction force quickly joined their gallant and besieged comrades, and through their combined efforts they successfully battled their way to the location of their dead and wounded. This spirited counterattack inflicted heavy casualties upon the enemy, causing him to break contact and flee. Demonstrating exemplary bravery and fortitude, battalion members repeatedly prevented and overcame similar enemy efforts. The men of the 299th Engineer Battalion displayed extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty which are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect distinct credit upon themselves and the Armed Forces of the United States"
The battalion redeployed on 20 July 1969. It moved back to Binh Dinh Province with HHC and B companies at Phu Tai near toe port of Qui Nhon, Companies A and D in upland An Khe and Company C at LZ North English some 50 miles north of Qui Nhon. The Battalion continued to consolidate within the Binh Dinh Province and provided combat and operational engineer support for the 173rd and 4th Infantry Division. In 1971 with the reduction in strength of engineer units within Military Region II, the Battalion mission changed to provide combat engineer support to the entire Military Region II. In Addition the unit was tasked to complete construction projects other engineer units were unable to finish due to standing down. This resulted in the fragmentation and wide dispersion of subordinate elements.
After an illustrious and heroic six years of combat in the Republic of Vietnam, reminiscent of the famous "Fighting 299th Combat Engineer Battalion" of WW II, the 299th Engineer Battalion was deactivated on 17 November 1971 at Fort Lewis, Washington.
1975-1990 Fort Sill
The Battalion was not to be inactivated for long. On 21 December 1975 the 299th Engineer Battalion (Combat) was reactivated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, at zero strength. On 24 February 1976 the Battalion was formally activated with Headquarters Company and one line company, A Company, with subsequent activation of B and C Companies on 8 March and 19 April 1976 respectively. Since
reactivation the battalion has trained to perform its mission of providing mobility, counter-mobility, survivability and general engineering support to the Combined Arms Team. Additionally, the battalion has provided general engineering support to Fort Sill since 1976. But this is not all the battalion
has done. The battalion trains constantly to be prepared for war. Since 1985 the 299th Engineer Battalion has participated in several rotations at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, both in support of friendly forces and in support of the Opposing Forces. In the summer of 1987, Companies A and C were reorganized as infantry to test the operational scenarios for the
Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas as part of Task Force Polar Bear. The battalion is also in the Sapper Leader Course program, rotating companies through that course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, about twice a year.
1990-1991 Desert Storm
For Operation Desert Storm, the 299th Engineer Battalion from Fort Sill, Oklahoma was attached to the 36th Engineer Group from Fort Benning, Georgia under the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) from Fort Stewart, Georgia. They were alerted 17 Aug 1990 and deployed into Saudi Arabia in late1990 to prepare for the offensive. One combat engineer battalion was assigned to each maneuver brigade of the Division, 5th Engineer Battalion to 1st Brigade, 3rd Engineer Battalion to 2nd Brigade, and 299th Engineer Battalion to the 197th Infantry Brigade (Separate). The Division’s objective was the Euphrates River in Iraq. The battalions were assigned the critical task of identifying, marking, and improving over 500 kilometers of combat routes through the Division attack zone. On the morning of February 24, the 299th moved north toward the Iraqi border. At 1200 hours they moved to the attack with elements of the battalion racing ahead marking the desert route with lights for 197th Infantry Brigade. Moving swiftly and with fierce determination, the Battalion covered 100 miles by 0800 February 25. Twenty-six hours later found them an incredible 60 miles farther north, having reached the high ground south of the Euphrates, where they located Iraqi units. The 24th Division halted its advance on Feb 28 when the cease-fire went into effective. The 299th was stopped in an area east of Basra, where for the next few days they began to do what engineers love to do - blow things up. They helped neutralize Saddam's war machine by destroying huge caches of arms and ammunition found in the area. By April 1991 the 299th Engineer Battalion redeployed to Fort Sill. That summer they were notified of their transfer to Fort Carson, Colorado and pending assignment to 4th Infantry Division in 1992. They had proven themselves once again and were awarded the Meritorious Unit Citation for the period 5 October 1990 to 20 March 1991.
1992-1995 Fort Carson
The 299th was assigned to 4th Infantry Division on 16 October 1992. They were stationed at Fort Carson, Colorado until they inactivated on 15 November 1995 pending transfer to Fort Hood, Texas
1996-2002 Fort Hood
The 299th was reactivated at Ft. Hood on 16 January 1996. Soon after, they were selected to be a test bed unit for new engineer systems and equipment. It was part of an Army Program called Force XXI Land Warrior. The below two articles describe their involvement in this important program.
Force XXI Land Warrior Program
Force XXI training focus was on receiving new equipment and conducting new equipment training [NET]. It started in February 1996, this initial period was for the 299th soldiers to learn critical individual skills using the new pieces of equipment. The next stage of NET was collective training beginning 1 June 1996, this phase was for the squads, platoons, and companies to learn how to employ their new systems as part of a team. The culminating training event was at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, CA, where the 299th would deploy and support its Brigade during maneuvers. The success of the NTC rotation in March 1997 depended upon what was learned during NET.
The 299th Engineer Battalion received several systems to train with:
- Digital Recon System is a hand held data collection device that the recon section used to record terrain data which is then transferred to the terrain data base at division. The plan fielded four of these systems to the 299th Engineer Battalion.
- The M9 Armored Combat Earthmover (ACE) was fielded to the 299th Engineer Battalion. The unit received 12 each of these assets.
- ROC-V was a robotic mine clearing system. It consists of an Abrams Tank Chassis with mine plow and remote control subsystem.
- The Mine Clearing Line Charge (MICLIC). The MICLIC itself is a rocket attached to a 100-meter line with C-4 explosives attached though out the line. While the MICLIC is not a new concept to the Army, they changed how it would be carried. The MICLIC originally was towed behind a vehicle and then launched through the minefield. For NET it was mounted on the back of an Armored Vehicle Launched Bridge without the bridge.
Army Superior Unit Award given to 299th Engineer Battalion, Combat Team (Provisional), 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division for the period 16 February 1996 to 10 April 1997.
Transitioning to the Bradley Fighting Vehicle
Over the past decade "Proven Pioneers" of the 299th have completed a long line of critical missions for the Army. From March 1994 to December 2000, the 299th has experimented, tested, and fielded digital systems as part of Force XXI. The 299th underwent two significant organizational changes as the engineer battalion design evolved. The 299th Engineer Battalion also deployed the Army's first Bradley fighting vehicle-equipped engineer company to the National Training Center. The significant lessons learned during all of these missions are vital to the Army as they are applied to additional combat-engineer battalions. More units became digital under the Force XXI design for organization and equipment. Changes continued with the fielding of the M2A2 Operation Desert Storm-Engineer (ODS-E) version of the Bradley.
Fundamental to the Force XXI concept is a smaller force that achieves increased lethality through enabling systems. The force-structure decrease has taken the mechanized division from an 18,000-soldier organization to one with just over 15,000 soldiers. The divisional combat-engineer battalion has downsized from 442 soldiers to 288. Critical enablers fielded within the 299th Engineer Battalion include the digital command-and-control systems--the Maneuver Control System (MCS) and the Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below (FBCB2) System. The other vital enabler in the 299th is the engineer scout platoon. These digital systems and the well-resourced and trained engineer scout platoon have enabled the Force XXI combat engineers to truly do more with less--and to do it better--as they support the maneuver brigade fight across an expanded battlespace.
The increased situational awareness that the commander achieves through the MCS at the battalion tactical-operations center and the FBCB2 System mounted on all combat vehicles enables increased reliance on and more efficient use of dynamic obstacles throughout the battlespace in both offensive and defensive operations. This increased situational awareness--shared throughout the digitized force--also greatly decreases the likelihood of casualties from mine strikes because Information on observed enemy obstacles, as well as planned or emplaced friendly obstacles, is shared instantaneously.
In offensive operations, combat-engineer platoons continued to provide effective mobility support by increased reliance on mechanical, as well as explosive, breaching with each squad towing a mine-clearing line charge (MICLIC). Command and control of breaching operations is better in that the sapper platoon sergeant is now forward--mounted in the platoon's fourth M 113 armored personnel carrier. The 299th developed the tactics, techniques, and procedures of always organizing sapper platoons in breaching stacks, with each stack consisting of a proofing blade (Ml tank plow), a sapper squad with a MICLIC, the platoon leader or platoon sergeant for command and control, a Wolverine/armored vehicle-launched bridge (AVLB), and an M9 armored combat earthmover (ACE). Force XXI engineers are able to provide better mobility support by immediately broadcasting a "breach-lane-report overlay" or a "scatterable-mine bypass-report overlay" to all FBCB2 System-equipped units in the maneuver brigade. The engineer scout platoon further reduces our reliance on conventional breaching methods by providing detailed mobility intelligence.
In defensive operations, increased situational awareness and focused training enabled the 299th to better synchronize countermobility efforts with no decrease in linear frontage covered despite having fewer sappers on the ground. Better planning achieved through the Digital Terrain Support System, the MCS, and the FBCB2 System facilitated more effective employment of the full menu of scatterable mines—ground, artillery and air-delivered. Countermobility training focused on scatterable-mine employment, putting the obstacles at the right place at the right time. The Force XXI digital systems, coupled with this focused training effort, enabled the 299th to achieve the Force XXI imperative to shape the battlespace.
Lt. Col. Jeff Bedey, commander, 299th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, at Fort Hood, Texas, uses a stylus while checking data on the Force 21 Battle Command Brigade and Below computer system mounted in his Humvee. The vehicle-mounted computers, radios, routers and integrating equipment exchange location and status information with others in the network and with higher echelons. Photo by Linda D. Kozaryn.
Col. Jeffrey A. Bedey commanded the 299th Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, in Fort Hood, Texas from 1999 to 2001.
The 299th Engineer Battalion, as part of the 1st Brigade, 4th Infantry Division was alerted on 19 January 2003, along with the rest of the Division, they were to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom in the spring of 2003 by spearheading an advance from Turkey into northern Iraq. The Turkish Parliament refused to grant permission for the operation and the division's equipment remained offshore on ships during the buildup for the war. They were diverted to Kuwait arriving in March after the invasion had started. While there, the division was subjected to multiple "SCUD" alerts at Camps Wolf and Udairi, necessitating retreat to bunkers in full chemical protective gear. Despite all the obstructions 4th Infantry Division still executed the most rapid deployment of heavy armored forces in history.
The division joined the invasion as a follow-on force in April 2003 attacking toward Tikrit and Mosul, and later played a major role in the post-war counter-insurgency. The 299th was stationed in Tikrit in the northern area of the hotly contested Sunni Triangle. During this time they performed traditional engineer duties such as route clearance. This involved removing and disposing improvised explosive devices from the roadways. In a non-traditional role, they conducted raids in armed patrol boats along the Tigris River to root out insurgents and interdict arms and ammunition to prevent attacks on US forces.
13 July 03: Lt Col Mark Huron, the Commander of 299th Engineer Battalion, whose men will use armed patrol boats to carry out raids along the Tigris, said: "We are going after known insurgents who are gathering weapons and ammunition to attack us with.”
299th participated as the screening force in Operation Red Dawn which resulted in the capture of Saddam Hussein on 13 December 2003. They redeployed to Fort Hood in April 2004. The 299th Engineer Battalion was inactivated on 15 December 2004 as part of the Army’s transition to modular brigades. Elements of the inactivated unit were filtered into the newly stood up 1st Support Troop Battalion of the newly redesignated1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Lt Col Mark Huron was in command of 299th Engineer Battalion in 2003 during OIF.
CSM Robert J. Wells was the Sergeant Major of 299th Engineer Battalion during OIF.
17th March 2014 - ACTIVATION of the 299th Combat Engineers at Fort Carson, CO