On 12 June 2013, V Corps was inactivated during a ceremony at Wiesbaden's Schloss Biebrich. At that time 2 steamers were presented to the Corps for its service. A Meritorious Unit Commendation streamer was presented for the unit's deployment serving as the of NATO's International Security Assistance Force Joint Command (IJC) in Afghanistan. The second streamer, the Superior Army Unit Award, honored the unit for its efforts during the reconstitution, modularization, and relocation of V Corps to Wiesbaden from Heidelberg, Germany. The V Corps inactivation was a major milestone in US Army Europe's transformation to a more agile force built around a cavalry regiment equipped with highly mobile Stryker combat vehicles and an airborne infantry brigade.
The United States began to broadly restructure its forces in Europe beginning in 2005. This was spurred on largely by the Base Realignment and Closure decisions announced in 2005, which included plans to return 11 facilities previously utilized by the US Army in FY07 alone. As a result the structure of V Corps also began to change dramtically in 2005, with many units being either inactivated or realigned assigned to US Army Europe (USAEUR), V Corps' higher headquarters. In 2008, the Department of the Army announced its intention to inactivate V Corps in 2009. On 4 June 2009, the Department of the Army announced that it had delayed, at least for one year, its original intention to inactivate V Corps. This was eventually delayed until 2013.
Prior to the restructuring, V Corps mission had been to, operating as a Corps or a heavy Joint Task Force, rapidly deploy as a Contingency Force in support of US European Command (EUCOM) and Central Command (CENTCOM) regional military objectives or in support of NATO and UN military operations, to include Peace Operations. The Corps would also provide trained and ready forces in support of Commanding General, USAREUR / Seventh US Army validated operational requirements.
Over its history, V Corps soldiers distinguished themselves through 2 World Wars, the Cold War, Desert Storm and Balkan stability operations, as well as numerous humanitarian operations. The modern V Corps was established in battle during World War I at Remiremont, France in July 1918. By the end of the War, the Corps had participated in 3 campaigns. Dubbed the "Victory Corps" in recognition of its rapid advance in the final phase of the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, V Corps returned to the United States in 1919.
V Corps was reactivated at Camp Beauregard, Louisiana in October 1940 and took part in the famous Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941. The organization deployed to Ireland after the United States declared war on Germany, providing the first American soldiers deployed to the European theater in World War II.
On 6 June 1944, V Corps assaulted Omaha Beach, Normandy. Corps soldiers then helped break out from the beachhead, liberated Paris and Sedan, and raced to the German border by September 1944. After liberating Luxembourg City, the Corps successively fought in the Battle of the Bulge, captured Leipzig, made first contact with the Soviets at Torgau, and liberated Pilzen by May 1945.
In 1951, the Corps returned to Germany, where its forces planned and trained to defend the critical Fulda Gap during the Cold War. After the collapse of the Warsaw Pact, Victory Corps soldiers deployed both units and individuals to Saudi Arabia for Operations Desert Shield; to Kuwait and Iraq in Operation Desert Storm; to Kuwait for Operation Positive Force; to northern Iraq for Operation Provide Comfort; to Croatia for Operation Provide Promise; to Somalia for Operation Restore Hope; to Macedonia for Operation Able Sentry; and to Rwanda and Zaire for Operation Support Hope.
In December 1994, as part of the drawdown and realignment of US forces in Europe, the Corps moved its headquarters from the historic C.W. Abrams Building (the former I.G. Farben Building) to Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, severing a 43 year tie with Frankfurt am Main.
Recognizing the changing circumstances in Europe, V Corps reached out to the armed forces of eastern Europe with assistance and international exercises, such as Partnership for Peace, that foster closer ties and better understanding. Meanwhile, the Corps remained committed to NATO, and in 1994 entered into an arrangement with the Federal Republic of Germany to create 2 bi-national corps. For NATO central region contingency, V Corps would command the 5th Panzer Division, while the German II Korps would command the US 1st Armored Division.
With the inactivation of IX Corps in Japan in September 1995, V Corps became the US Army's only forward-deployed corps, consisting of 2 heavy divisions, a corps support command and 9 separate brigades totaling approximately 41,000 soldiers, 800 civilian employees and over 57,000 family members. V Corps represented the bulk of US Army Europe's combat power and was continuously engaged in the European Command's area of responsibility. At times, fully 25 percent of V Corps was deployed, making it one of the busiest units in the Army.
In December 1995, V Corps deployed its 1st Armored Division and major elements of 6 separate brigades for the NATO Implementation Force (IFOR) in support of the Dayton Peace Agreement for Bosnia. Furthermore, the Corps headquarters, the 3rd Corps Support Command, and the separate brigades helped form the USAREUR (Forward) and 21st Theater Army Area Command (Forward) (TAACOM Forward) headquarters in Hungary, which provided the National Support Element for US forces in Bosnia. Moreover, V Corps Artillery provided the command and control element for Task Force Victory, which commanded rear detachments, non-deploying units, and supported forward operations. The Corps deployed portions of its 1st Infantry Division and 11th Aviation Brigade to serve in the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR) in Bosnia.
Within hours of the June 1999 peace agreement, V Corps units deployed into Kosovo as part of a 1st Infantry Division lead initial entry force. Once in Kosovo, they ensured the safe return of Kosovar refugees while providing a buffer between retreating Serb forces and Kosovo Liberation Army rebels. Dubbed Task Force Falcon, the US contribution to the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR), subsequently transitioned to stability operations. From June 1999 to June 2000, roughly 5,900 soldiers, mostly from the 1st Infantry Division, performed this complex and hazardous mission. After assuming the mission in June 2000, soldiers from the 1st Armored Division continued to materially improve the daily lives of Serb and Albanian Kosovars alike.
V Corps was not only heavily involved with the missions in the Balkans, but also deployed to conduct other out-of-sector missions, military-to-military exchange programs and Partnership for Peace (PFP) exercises. From Norway to Romania, V Corps units participated in 7 PFP exercises during FY00. From January 1999 to August 1999, V Corps' 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade provided Patriot air defense coverage to Turkey in support of European Command's continuing mission known as Operation Northern Watch. Over the year, additional 69th ADA Brigade Patriot units were called on to support Central Command's Operation Provide Cover in Kuwait.
Under a new concept called "corps packaging," all of the National Guard's 8 combat divisions and 15 enhanced separate brigades were to be matched with active-component divisions at the corps level. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki announced this expansion of teaming between active and Guard divisions on 14 September 2000 in a speech to the National Guard Association annual conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The 35th Infantry Division, Kansas National Guard, would fall under V Corps in Heidelberg, Germany along with the 256th Infantry Brigade (Mechanized), Louisiana National Guard and the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment, Tennessee National Guard.
In looking to the future, V Corps had also undertaken 2 key initiatives. First was the establishment of an Immediate Ready Force (IRF) consisting of a Heavy Immediate Ready Company (HIRC) and 5 complimenting Force Enhancement Modules (FEMs). The HIRC was deployable within 48 hours and provided V Corps a quick reaction force to assist early entry forces as a follow-on force multiplier providing the superior firepower and protection of Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles. The 5 FEMs consisted of a command and control package, an M113 infantry company, an HMMWV scout platoon, an engineer platoon and a military police platoon. In order to increase flexibility and reduce deployment times, all FEMs were designed to be deployable by C-130 aircraft.
The second initiative was the complete redesign of the V Corps main command post. The newly designed command post was tent-based and completely modular. It capitalized on the latest technology to greatly improve the command post's efficiency while reducing the C-17/C-5 airlift requirement by over 80 percent. The V Corps' goal was to make the command post entirely C-130 deployable. The command post configuration that had been developed was 80 percent C-130 deployable. The new design made it ideally suited to effectively perform the demanding command and control functions required for conventional corps operations or those of Joint/Combined operations.
In October 2002, the Heidelberg, Germany-based V Corps headquarters was on its way to Kuwait, along with a battalion of Apache helicopters and a corps-level Marine command post. The 1st Infantry Division was faced with 6 months of retraining before the first units would be available for combat deployment. That left the Germany-based 1st Armored Division and 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate) in Italy, as well as smaller units, like 1-4th Cavalry and long-range surveillance paratroopers with E Company, 51st Infantry Regiment, as the only other ground combat units from among the Army's rosters in Europe available for any potential tasking to what was then referred to as Gulf War II.
In 2005, as part of the Base Realignment and Closure decisions, the draw down of US forces in Europe, which had started after the reunification of Germany and the fall of the Soviet Union, became more pronounced. The 5th Panzer Division had already been disbanded by the German Bundeswehr in 2001. In 2006, the 12th Aviation Brigade was reorganized and redesiganted as the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade. In Summer 2006, the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment moved to Germany and was assigned to V Corps.
Also in 2005, USAREUR designed and implemented a more capable Corps HQ and Corps base. V Corps HQ design was adjusted to improve its ability to function as a deployable HQ. Enhancements included strengthening the plans, logistics plans, and movement control cells, as well as deep operations capabilities and information operations functions. The result was to be a Corps HQ that could quickly deploy as an organic, trained unit and accomplish all assigned tasks as a JFLCC HQ. This deployable element was for a time referred to as Task Force 5 (TF 5). The structure of TF 5 was derived from the existing V Corps headquarters and was a 3-star Joint Task Force (JTF) capable headquarters, stationed in Germany fulfilling Commander, EUCOM's requirement for large contingencies. TF 5 could be tailored to serve as a 3-star JTF or Joint Forces Land Component Command (JFLCC) headquarters, and would employ the most modern and combat proven Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C41SR) systems available in the Army.
In 2008, the 2nd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division was inactivated, and reactivated in Fort Riley, Kansas, as the last major element of the 1st Infantry Division to relocate. In Germany, the unit was reflagged as the 172nd Infantry Brigade (Separate). In 2009, 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division was inactivated and reactivated at Fort Bliss, Texas, to join the other 3 brigades of the 1st Armored Division. In Germany, the unit was reflagged as the 170th Infantry Brigade (Separate). This change had initially been planned for September 2010. As of July 2010, the major elements of the 1st Armored Division had relocated to Fort Bliss, Texas, while the 1st Armored Division Headquarters remained in Germany.
On 12 January 2012, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that as part of a new, 10-year defense strategy announced by President Barack Obama earlier in the month, which emphasized air-sea doctrine to better allow the United States to confront more than one threat at a time, the Army would withdraw 2 brigade combat teams from Europe, while retaining a strong presence in the region via rotational units. On 16 February 2012, the Department of Defense outlined the force posture adjustments. This plan involved inactivating the V Corps Headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany during the summer of FY13. Approximately 750 soldiers were in the process of preparing to deploy to Afghanistan summer 2012 at the time of the annoucement. Personnel would reunite with their families and receive other assignments in Wiesbaden or elsewhere after redeploying back from Afghanistan.
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