218th Infantry Brigade (Heavy Separate)
As part of the Army's transformation towards a modular force, in 2005, the composition of the 35th Infantry Division was changed. The 218th Infantry Brigade stood down in the 24th Division, and stood up in the 35th Division
The 218th Heavy Separate Brigade is the largest Major Subordinate Command in South Carolina. It is one of the 15 Enhanced Readiness Brigades in the Army National Guard. Enhanced Readiness Brigades are the highest priority combat formations in the National Guard.
Congressman John Spratt secured $100 million in funding in 1997 and 1998 to upgrade M2A2 Bradley Fighting Vehicles for the 118th Mechanized Infantry, which is headquartered in Newberry and has companies in Chester, Winnsboro, and Gaffney. For his staunch support of the National Guard, the National Guard Association of the United States awarded Congressman John Spratt one of its highest honors, the Charles Dick Medal of Merit. In accepting, Spratt said his support for the Guard comes naturally, because he knows so many "first-rate citizen-soldiers" who serve in the South Carolina National Guard. Spratt views the Guard as a cost-effective way of keeping combat-ready forces. But for the Guard to be combat-ready, he believes its units have to be on parity with their parent units in the regular Army when it comes to weapons and equipment.
Significantly, Congressional initiatives in 1997 and 1998 accelerated this Brigade's modernization by programming defense dollars for upgrading its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles from the M2A0 model to the M2A2 model that provides enhanced crew protection and capabilities. The Brigade's tanks (M1A1 Abrams) were already on a par with those used by the active Army. The Brigade's artillery battalion is programmed for modernization in 2001.
The 218th is one of three Army Guard enhanced maneuver brigades that comprise the Army's 24th Infantry Division, headquartered at Fort Riley, Kan., that was reactivated in June 1999. The two other brigades are located in North Carolina and Georgia. Nearly 10 years after the Persian Gulf War, the 218th is part of Army's new 'integrated' 24th Infantry Division, which in its previous life helped liberate Kuwait. It is considered an example of how closely active and reserve components are now working together.
For the 218th Brigade Combat Team, the weeks of July 2000 were crucial. The soldiers spent two years preparing for their unit's first full-scale training rotation in southern California. There is no better way to replicate the fog of war than at the National Training Center. The brigade, supported by nearly 2,000 more citizen-soldiers in the Palmetto State Task Force, trained in many ways to pull off what was said to be the largest peacetime deployment of National Guard forces in history. More than $21 million was budgeted for the entire exercise, South Carolina Guard officials reported. Although South Carolina has fielded the bulk of the force, citizen-soldiers and airmen from 26 other states were engaged in the cross-country mission that will ended 30 July 2000. More than 1,800 tanks, armored fighting vehicles and other pieces of equipment were hauled from South Carolina to California on railroad cars and trucks. Seven Apache attack helicopters were flown down from Idaho to beef up the brigade's 373-soldier aviation task force. Still other helicopters were flown from the East Coast on C-5 cargo planes. The vast array of ground vehicles were unloaded in Yermo, Calif., and convoyed across the desert to Fort Irwin for two weeks.
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