256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized)
The federal mission of the 256th Infantry Brigade is to, on order, mobilize, deploy to designated theater and executes combat operations in support of national military objectives. The state mission of the 256th Infantry Brigade is to, on order, provide trained individuals and units capable of accomplishing State missions.
The history of the units of the 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized) date back to 1769 when the Regiment which today is known as the 156th Infantry was organized in New Orleans as The Regiment of City Militia by General Don Alejandro O'Reilly, Governor of the Spanish Province of Louisiana.
The 156th Infantry Regiment performed in several conflicts since 1769; the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Battle of New Orleans, the Mexican War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, and Operation Desert Storm.
During the Civil War the 2nd Louisiana Regiment fought well with Lee during the Seven Day Battle near Richmond in 1862. The night before Pickett's valiant charge up Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg, the 2nd fought to within 100 yards of the enemy positions, atop the ridge. The 3rd Louisiana Regiment fought equally well. In 1862 after the Battle of Luka, General Price said of them . "No men fought more bravely or more victoriously than they." After participating in such historic campaigns as Second Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Appomattox, the 2nd Regiment disbanded along with the Army of Northern Virginia in April 1865 while the 3rd Regiment was deactivated in May 1865 at Shreveport.
Louisiana's militia forces reorganized slowly after the Civil War and by 1890 there were 15 militia companies outside New Orleans known as the Special Militia Force. The following year the force was reorganized into the First and Second Infantry Battalions of the Louisiana State National Guard.
By 1904, with additional companies created the unit was reorganized as the 1st Infantry Regiment. The 1st was re-designated as the 156th Infantry Regiment in September 1917 and became part of the newly formed 39th arrived in France and became a replacement division with many of its members joining combat units. The 39th returned to the States in 1919 and the 156th Regiment was officially deactivated at Camp Beauregard in June.
Reorganization of the 156th Infantry Regiment began once again in 1921. In February 1940, the 156th (less the 2nd Battalion) reorganized in the Southern part of the State. The 2nd Battalion expanded and reorganized in the Northern area of the State as the 204th Coast Artillery. The 156th was introduced into Federal Service in February 1941 at Shreveport and underwent several re-designations during the war. The 156th was deactivated in 1946 while the 204th deactivated a year earlier. In May 1946 the 156th was reorganized with headquarters in Lafayette and the 204th was re-designated as the 199th Infantry Regiment. Both units were assigned to the 39th Infantry Division.
In July 1959, the 156th and 199th were consolidated and designated as the 156th Infantry, a parent regimental under the Combat Arms Regimental System and consisted of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battle Groups of the 39th Infantry Division.
Another reorganization took place in May 1963 when the Battle Groups were re-designated as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Infantry Battalions. Then in December 1967, these four Battalions were reorganized into the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battalions, concurrently relieved from assignment to the 39th Infantry Division and assigned to the newly formed 256th Infantry Brigade, headquartered in Lafayette. At the same time, the 39th S & T Battalion, an element of the 39th Infantry Division was re-designated the 199th Support Battalion was also assigned to the 256th Infantry Brigade. This historic Washington Artillery, first organized in September 1838, was designated as the 1st Battalion 141st Artillery and assigned to the 256th in December 1967. Troop E 256th Cavalry was organized and federally recognized 29 July 1948 as Battery C, 105th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion, an element of the 39th Infantry Division. Converted, reorganized, and re-designated 1 June 1963 as Troop C, 1st Reconnaissance Squadron, 139th Armor. Reorganized and re-designated 1 December 1967 as Troop E 256th Cavalry; concurrently relieved from assignment to the 39th Infantry Division and assigned to the 256th Infantry Brigade. Troop E 256th Cavalry was redesignated on 01 September 1996 as Troop A, 108th Cavalry.
In 1976 as part of the Total Force concept, the 256th was selected as a Roundout Brigade organic to the 5th Infantry Division (Mechanized) stationed at Fort Polk.
In 1987 the 256th Infantry Brigade attended the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA, the first National Guard Brigade to attend and successfully complete a training rotation at the Training Center.
In November 1990, the 256th Infantry Brigade successfully mobilized in support of Operations Desert Shield/Storm. The Brigade units trained at Fort Polk, LA, and Fort Hood, TX, in preparation for deployment to Saudi Arabia for the Persian Gulf War. The 256th Infantry Brigade demobilized in May 1991 upon conclusion of the Persian Gulf War.
In 1995, the 256th Infantry Brigade was selected as one of 15 enhanced combat brigades by the United States Army, and thus become one of the Guard's highest priority combat units, receiving better training and newer equipment.
The 256th Brigade Combat Team (BCT) mobilizes and deployed to Ft Irwin, CA (NTC) on or about 7 July 2001. There, it assumed command and control of the PSTF and conducted RSOI Operations. The BCT conducted force on force operations from 15 to 24 july 2001 and upon completion conducted download, maintenance, turn-in, and redeployment to home station.
Operation Iraqi Freedom
On March 1st, 2004 the 256th Infantry Brigade as alerted for likely deployment to Iraq in late 2004 or early 2005, along with the 42nd Infantry Division, the 116th Armored Brigade, and 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. The units in question are to be mobilized in the months following in order to conduct training necessary to their mission in Iraq.
The Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, had hoped to be on their way back to Fort Hood, Texas, by the end of October 2004. But it was announced Oct. 4 that the unit, which arrived in January, will fulfill a full 12-month tour. The brigade made their final haul from their trailers on Camp Black Jack to Camp Striker Oct. 23, a tent city three miles from their former home. At Striker, the brigade continued operations. In doing this, they made way for the 256th "Tiger" Brigade Combat Team; a Louisiana National Guard infantry brigade whose advance party had recently arrived. If getting moved to a different location and taking on a new area of responsibility isn't enough, the Blackjacks are also passing on their old area of operations to a brigade which is just arriving in Iraq. The new group is eager to learn and they ask a lot of questions and they are learning a lot. Introducing a fresh group to a new area also reminded the Black Jack brigade members of how they were when they first arrived in Iraq, and how far they have come in their time here.
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