Date: May 27, 2010
By 1st Lt. Peter M. Owen
724th Engineer Battalion Task Force Badger Public Affairs
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Farewell, Eagle. Welcome aboard, Badger.
The Wisconsin Army National Guard's 724th Engineer Battalion officially replaced the 18th Airborne Corps' 37th Engineer Battalion during a transfer of authority ceremony May 22, and also changed the name of the mission from Joint Task Force Eagle to Task Force Badger. The 724th will support the 36th Engineer Brigade, which itself arrived in theater in April.
"We are privileged to work alongside this brigade with its proud and distinguished history," said Lt. Col. David O'Donahue, Task Force Badger commander. "We look forward to the opportunity to contribute to that history. Together we will do great things here in Iraq."
In addition to serving as the higher command element for engineer units in Iraq, the 36th Engineer Brigade oversees training for Iraqi army engineers. The outgoing 37th Engineer Battalion, for example, partnered with the 5th Iraqi Army Field Engineer Regiment and the Headquarters Field Engineer Regiment Strategic Bridge Company.
Other highlights from the JTF Eagle deployment include the construction of the Baqubah Landfill, emplacement of the Mabey Johnson Float Bridge in Taji, nearly 4,000 interrogations of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), unexploded ordnance (UXOs) and other explosive hazards, and clearing hundreds of miles of road during the course of nearly 5,000 hours on route clearance patrols covering a cumulative distance of more than 2,200 kilometers of road.
Additionally, the battalion maintained all military bridges north of Baghdad and constructed more than 11 Southwest Asia huts.
Lt. Col. Paul Huszar, 37th Engineer Battalion - JTF Eagle commander, thanked the commanders of the 555th Engineer Brigade, 194th Engineer Brigade and 36th Engineer Brigade for enabling the 37th's success while providing multiple opportunities for the battalion to excel. Huszar indicated the success of the battalion can be attributed to the Soldiers from across JTF-Eagle.
"To all of these phenomenal teammates, you each helped make our vision of the U.S. Army Airborne Knife a reality," Huszar said. "I could not be more proud and honored to serve as your commander."
This transition of authority ceremony marks the beginning of the 724th's second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Task Force Badger is composed of the 228th Engineer Company from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, the active Army 617th Engineer Company from Fort Lewis, Wash., the 950th Clearance Company from the Wisconsin Army National Guard and the 1013th Engineer (Sapper) Company from the Puerto Rico National Guard. The 739th Multi-Role Bridge Company from the Army Reserve is also joining the battalion in theater for the deployment.
The 724th Engineer Battalion was mobilized on March 5. The unit conducted training at Fort McCoy before deploying to Iraq in late April. Upon arriving in Iraq, Task Force Badger Soldiers spent nearly three weeks with their Joint Task Force Eagle counterparts learning to apply their training to their specific area of operations. This training consisted of a type of job shadowing better known as "left seat-right seat" training, as incoming units first observe the mission and then are observed performing mission tasks by the outgoing unit. The incoming unit must be certified as mission capable by the outgoing unit prior to the transfer of authority.