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85th Division (Training Support)
"Custer Division"

In late 2001 members of the 85th Training Support Division completed mobilization training for nearly 780 National Guard soldiers from Kentucky and Ohio. Guardsman from the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Brigade, located in Barboursville, Kentucky and the 1st Battalion, 148th Infantry Brigade, from Lima, Ohio, spent more than a week under-going intense, mission-focused training under the watchful eye of the 85th Division trainers in preparation for their mission to provide Military Support to Civilian Authorities as part of Homeland Security efforts.

The trainers, usually referred to as Observer Controller/ Trainers or "OC/Ts", from the 4th Cavalry Brigade of the 85th Division played an integral part in mobilizing and training these units. The primary mission is to mobilize and validate Army National Guard units in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Supporting that effort, the [4th] Cavalry Brigade provides focused training through the development and execution of both Homeland Security Individual Readiness Training (HSIRT) and Stability and Support Operations (SASO) Lanes. Validation of unit readiness for the Homeland Security mission consisted of successful completion of two phases: HSIRT and SASO.

The first phase, HSIRT , focused primarily on honing individual solider skills. In this phase the Guardsmen trained on force protection measures such as how to conduct a vehicle search, how to engage members of the media in a professional manner, how to efficiently evacuate the ill or wounded, how to conduct checkpoint operations in order to ensure unauthorized personnel are not given access to military installations. The second phase, SASO, was a 2-day exercise conducted at the Fort Knox Mounted Urban Combat Training Center, which simulated a federal installation that has been infiltrated by terrorists. This portion of the training was designed to evaluate how each unit incorporated the skills it learned during phase one in a collective environment. Training was complete for the Ohio and Kentucky guardsmen when their 4th Cavalry Brigade trainers certified they were proficient in the skills needed to assume their Homeland Security duties.

When the United States entered World War 1 on April 6, 1917, the war Department first activated the 85th Infantry Division. Its birthplace, Camp Custer, Michigan, lent the new division its nickname as the "Custer Division." The division was inactivated in April 1919.

The 85th Infantry Division was activated 15 May 1942, and arrived in Casablanca, French Morocco, 2 January 1944. It received amphibious training at Port aux Poules near Arzew and Oran, Algeria, 1 February to 23 March, then embarked for Naples, Italy, arriving on 27 March. A selected advance detachment appeared on the Minturno-Castelforte front north of Naples, 28 March. The Division was committed to action as a unit, 10 April 1944, north of the Garigliano River, facing the Gustav Line, and held defensive positions for a month. On 11 May, it launched its attack, taking Solacciano, Castellonorato, and Formia. Itri fell, 19 May, and the 85th continued to mop up the Gaeta Peninsula. Terracina was taken and the road to the Anzio beachhead was opened. The Division pursued the enemy to the hills near Sezze until pinched out by friendly forces from Anzio. The Gustav Line had been smashed and the 85th started for a rest area, 29 May, but was ordered to the Lariano sector which the Division cleared by the 31st. Driving on Rome, the 85th pushed through Monte Compatri and Frascati, entered Rome, 5 June 1944, and advanced to Viterbo before being relieved, 10 June. After rehabilitation and training, the 85th took over the defense of the Arno River line, 15 to 26 August. The Division attacked the mountain defenses of the Gothic Line, 13 September, and broke through, taking Firenzuola on the 21st. The 85th advanced slowly through mud and rain against heavy resistance taking La Martina and gaining the Idice River Valley road, 2 October, and reaching Mount Mezzano on the 24th overlooking the Po River Valley. From 27 October to 22 November, 1944, defense areas near Pizzano were held. On the 23d, the Division was relieved for rest and rehabilitation. The 85th relieved the 1st British Division, 6 January 1945, and limited its activities to cautious patrols' until 13 March. After a brief training period, the 85th thrust southwest of Bologna, 14 April, pushing through Lucca and Pistoia into the Po Valley as enemy resistance collapsed. The Panaro River was crossed on tile 2.3d and the Po the next day. The Division mopped up fleeing Germans until their mass surrender, 2 May 1945, in the BellunoAgordo area.

After World War 2, the Custer Division was reactivated as a Reserve Element, first as an infantry Division, next as a Basic Training Division, and then as an Armor/Cavalry Training Division. As a Training Division, the 2/353d Chemical Training Battalion and the 1/335th Armor Training Battalion were mobilized in January 1991 in support of Operation Desert Storm. The Division was redesignated as a Division Exercise in 1992 and became the first Division Exercise to simultaneously conduct simulations and lane training. In October 1999, the Division Exercise transitioned to a multi-component Training Support Division. The Division has four brigades with units located in Illinois, Michigan, Indiana, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio.



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