Friday, October 22, 2021

A Brief History of the 648th MEB

By Maj. William Carraway

Historian, Georgia National Guard


Georgia Army National Guard Soldiers of the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade stand in formation at the National Infantry Museum
at Fort Benning, Georgia April 11, 2015. Photo by Captain William Carraway.

The earliest elements of the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade formed Oct. 1, 2007[1] with an initial muster of 12 Soldiers. In the ensuing months, the initial command team of Col. Keith Knowlton and Command Sgt. Major James Nelson assembled personnel into a headquarters company and formed the 348th Brigade Support Battalion in Cumming, Ga. The 648th MEB officially organized Sept. 1, 2009 in Columbus, Georgia.[2] Under its original organization, the 648th comprised the 348th BSB; 878th Engineer Battalion; 170th Military Police Battalion;1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery Regiment; and Joint Task Force 781.[3]

Colonel Keith Knowlton presents Col. Hall with a 648th MEB Challenge coin during the change of command ceremony for the 648th MEB
in Columbus, Georgia, August 8, 2010. Photo by Pfc. Ted Burzynski. 

Shoulder Sleeve and Distinctive Unit Insignia

Knowlton initiated the request for a distinctive unit insignia, coat of arms and motto for the 648th MEB July 7, 2008. Of the three mottoes suggested by the 648th, the U.S. Army approved, Freedom to Maneuver. Other suggestions included Freedom to Fight and Protecting the Battlespace.[4]

The shoulder sleeve insignia and distinctive unit insignia of the 648th MEB approved Nov. 24, 2008 by the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry.
Georgia National Guard Archives.

On Nov. 24, 2008, the United States Army Department of Heraldry authorized the shoulder sleeve insignia for the 648th MEB. Authorized effective Sept. 1, 2009, the symbolism of the shoulder sleeve insignia was described thus”

“The shape of the insignia implies a strong defense and the symbol of the Maneuver Enhancement Brigade. The color divisions of the background associates the branches with the units that comprise the brigade – green indicates the Military Police duties, cobalt blue signifies the Chemical functions, and scarlet suggests the Engineering assets. The compass rose illustrates the influence in all directions and the nonlinear aspects of the Brigade. The sword symbolizes the ability to bring lethality on the battlefield. The lightning bold denotes the Brigade’s undertaking to strike throughout the area of authority and its communication responsibilities.”[5]

The 648th MEB’s distinctive unit insignia was also authorized by the Institute of Heraldry on Nov. 24, 2008.[6]

Task Force Hydra commander, Col. Andy Hall and Afghan National Army officials participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a school renovation in a
community near Camp Black Horse and the Afghan Training Center in Kabul, Afghanistan April 13, 2012. Photo by Capt. Jacqueline Wren.


Units of the 648th MEB deployed overseas in support of contingency operations during the Global War on Terrorism from its formation to present day. In 2010, the 648th MEB received its first call to support forces in Kabul, Afghanistan. Nearly 200 personnel of the 648th MEB arrived in Afghanistan in January 2012 with the command team of Col. Andy Hall and Command Sgt. Maj. John Smiley and assumed command of the Kabul Base Cluster as Task Force Hydra. Over the next nine months, TF Hydra conducted base operations and force protection for eight bases within the Kabul Base Cluster, synchronized security efforts in the Kabul Province, partnered and mentored Afghan National Security Forcers mission. For its efforts, the 648th MEB received the Meritorious Unit Citation which was presented during a ceremony in Columbus, Georgia in 2019.

The 648th MEB Headquarters Company mobilized personnel throughout the Central Command area of operations in 2017 and conducted security engagements with multiple regional military partners before returning in 2018.

Soldiers of Headquarters Company, 648th MEB in Uijeongbu, South Korea Dec. 16, 2013. Photo by Captain William Carraway.

In addition to supporting contingency operations, the MEB conducted training across the globe. In 2014, nearly 80 personnel of the 648th participated in a war fighter exercise at Camp Casey in South Korea and in 2017 the 648th provided command and control for a multi-national river-crossing exercise in Vale Romania. Most recently, units and personnel of the 648th supported Operation African Lion in Morocco.

Soldiers of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade reconnoiter possible bridging sites on the Olt River July 7, 2017 in
Ramnicu Valcea, Romania in preparation for Exercise Saber Guardian 17. Photo by Capt. William Carraway.


Strategically located in southwest Georgia, the MEB headquarters is ideally located to forward-stage response capacity for hurricanes and its units have contributed forces to severe weather responses ranging from the ice storms of 2014 and Hurricanes Matthew, Irma, and Michael in 2016, 2017 and 2018.


Command Sgt. Major Timothy Baker, senior enlisted leader of the 878th Engineer Battalion addresses Soldiers at the Augusta armory before departing for
Louisiana in support of Hurricane Ida recovery operations Sept. 1, 2021. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.

In September 2021, the 648th MEB’s 878th Engineer Battalion mobilized to Louisiana following the impact of Hurricane Ida.

Soldiers with the 420th Network Support Company and Headquarters Support Company, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
conduct a road march during African Lion 2021 in Tan-Tan, Morocco, June 15, 2021. Photo by U.S. Army Spc. Nathan Smith.


Current Composition

The 648th MEB is one of 19 maneuver enhancement brigades in the total Army force structure. With an authorized strength of more than 1,600 Soldiers, the 648th MEB is structured to support combatant and joint task force commanders with specialized support units.

 Lieutenant Colonel Charles Newton and Command Sgt. Major William Scaggs case the colors of the 348th Brigade Support Battalion during the unit’s
inactivation ceremony at the Clay National Guard Center in Marietta, Ga. Aug. 22, 2020. To the right, Capt. April Johnson and 1st Sgt. Eric Yates
case the colors of Headquarters Company, 348th BSB. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.

On Aug. 22, 2020, the 348th Brigade Support Battalion inactivated during a ceremony at the Clay National Guard Center. The inactivation was part of the divestment of BSBs in MEB structures Army-wide.


The battery guidon of the Ellenwood-based Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 214th Field Artillery, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade
stands at the ready during M109A6 Paladin howitzer training during African Lion 2021 at Cap Draa, Morocco, June 16, 2021. photo by Sgt. Nathan Baker.

In addition to its headquarters company and the Augusta-based 878th Engineer Battalion, the 648th MEB is composed of the 1-214th Field Artillery Battalion with headquarters in Elberton and the 1st Battalion 54th Security Forces Assistance Brigade based at Fort Benning.

Soldiers of the 1st Battalion 54th Security Forces Assistance Brigade prepare a simulated casualty for medical evacuation during 48-hour
field operations at Fort Benning Nov. 13, 2019. Photo by Maj. William Carraway.

 The 420th Signal Company, based in Cumming, Georgia, provides robust communications capability for the MEB during domestic and overseas operations.


Soldiers of the 3rd ID MCPOD return to Fort Stewart April 11, 2018 following a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. Photo by  Shye Wilborn.

Activated at Fort Stewart, Georgia, Aug. 20, 2016, the 3
rd Infantry Division Main Command Post Operational Detachment deployed personnel to Iraq in 2018. The following year, personnel deployed overseas in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.



[1] "Georgia Department of Defense Annual Report, 2010." 15.

[2] "Georgia Department of Defense Annual Report, 2010." 15.

[3] "Georgia Department of Defense Annual Report, 2010."15.

[4] Keith E. Knowlton. “Request for Design of Coat of Arms and Distinctive Unit Insignia for the 648th MEB, Georgia Army National Guard. July 7, 2008.

[5] Department of the Army Institute of Heraldry. “Shoulder Sleeve Insignia for the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard.” November 24, 2008.

[6] Department of the Army Institute of Heraldry. “Distinctive Unit Insignia for the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard.” November 24, 2008.

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