Written by Staff Sgt. Joel Salgado
101st Airborne Division Public Affairs
Fort Campbell, KY – From its roots as one of the U.S. Army’s first airborne divisions in World War II, to defining air mobile operations in Vietnam, to its current status as the world’s only air assault division, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) has a history of change and innovation.
The 101st will again answer the call as it begins implementing Operation Agile Eagle II, designed to localize and implement the larger Department of the Army-directed BCT 2020 initiative. This overarching move mandates development of a plan that will reduce the overall strength of the Army in order to meet current and future mission requirements.Much like the previous brigade modularization undertaking in the mid-2000s, BCT 2020 will add additional assets to the brigades and the division to increase their autonomy and enhance their abilities to meet future mission requirements.
“The addition of a third maneuver battalion in each brigade combat team adds to the ability of the division to respond to the needs of the Army with a more robust force to meet mission requirements,” said Maj. Gen. James McConville, commander, 101st Airborne Division (AASLT). “It also puts more combat Soldiers into units and reduces the overhead of staff.”
Additionally, the brigades are standing up brigade engineer battalions, adding an increased range of ability to the commanders to address a wide range of mission challenges.
In addition to adding a third infantry battalion and a BEB to each BCT, the artillery units will also reorganize to composite battalions comprised of two batteries of 105mm howitzers and one battery of 155mm howitzers.
The division has already begun adapting to meet the new model by recently inactivating the 3rd Special Troops Battalion, 3rd BCT, and reflagging it as the 21st Brigade Engineer Battalion and reorganizing the 3rd Bn., 320th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd BCT, to a composite artillery formation.
Last week, the 1st Special Troops Battalion of 1st Brigade Combat Team inactivated and transformed to the 326th Brigade Engineer Battalion. And this week, the 4th BCT will inactivate as part of the realignment effort.
“As part of the Army’s 2020 model, the division is reducing the 4th Brigade Combat Team and realigning its two infantry battalions under the 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams and distributing the remaining elements across the division,” said McConville.
The division recently conducted Operation Golden Eagle, the first brigade-size air assault training operation in more than a decade here that highlighted the capabilities of a brigade under the new BCT 2020 model.
“We are able to preserve the history and lineage of some of the Army’s most highly decorated units with the retention of the 506th Infantry Regiment,” said McConville.
Following the transition of the 1st and 2nd BCTs to the new BCT 2020 model and the activation of the division artillery, the division expects to meet the Army-directed goal of September 30th, 2015.
“The end state is that by 2015, we’ll be completely transformed to three maneuver brigades,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Manny Vasquez, the lead planner for Agile Eagle II.
With the transition complete, the 101st will again be ready with an agile and adaptive force to provide the National Command Authority with an early entry air assault force capable of working in any environment.