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2nd Infantry Division
"Second to None" / "Warrior Division" / "Indianhead Division"

One of the few active US Army units, as of 2009, organized on foreign soil, the 2nd Infantry Division was born on 26 October 1917, at Bounnont France as the 2nd Division. At the time of its activation, the Indianhead Division was composed of one brigade of US Infantry, one brigade of US Marines, an artillery brigade, and various supporting units. During The Great War the Division was commanded twice by Marine Corps generals, first Major General C.A. Doyen and then Major General John A. Lejune. This was the only time in US military history when Marine Corps officers commanded an Army Division.

The Division spent the winter of 1917-1918 training with French Army veterans. Though judged unprepared by French tacticians, the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) was committed to combat in the spring of 1918 in a desperate attempt to halt a German advance toward Paris.

The 2nd Division drew its first blood in the nightmare landscape of Belleau-Wood and contributed to shattering the 4-year-old stalemate on the battlefield during the Chateau-Thierry campaign that followed. The Division won hard fought victories at Soissons and Mont Blanc, for which it was awarded the French Fourragire in the colors of the Croix DeGueme. Finally, the Indianhead Division participated in the Meuse-Argome offensive, which spelled the end of any German hope for victory. On 11 November 1918 the Armistice was declared, and the 2nd Division marched into Germany, where it performed occupational duties until April of 1919.

Upon returning to the United States, the Division was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. It remained there for the next 23 years, serving as an experimental unit, testing new concepts and innovations for the Army. In 1940, the 2nd Division was the first command reorganized under the new triangular concept, which provided for 3 separate regiments in each division. On 1 August 1942, the Division was redesignated as the 2nd Infantry Division.

As part of the build up for Operation Overlord, the Normandy invasion, the 2nd Infantry Division was transferred from Fort Sam Houston to Northern Ireland in October 1943. On 7 June 1944, D Day +1, the Division stormed ashore at bloody Omaha Beach. While other units were stalled by the determined German resistance, the Indianheads blasted through the hedgerows of Normandy. After a fierce, 39-day battle, the 2nd Infantry Division took the vital port city of Brest, which was liberated on 18 September 1944. From positions around St. Vith, Belgium, and throughout the Battle of the Bulge, the 2nd Infantry Division held fast, preventing the enemy from seizing key roads leading to the cities of Liege and Antwerp. Resuming the offensive on 6 February 1945, the Division joined the race to annihilate the fleeing Wehrmacht.

Transferred from the First Army to Patton's Third Amy, the Indianheads spent their last days of the European War in a dash across Czechoslovakia, finally halting in the town of Pilsen. This city became a meeting point between invading armies from the east and from the west. It was in Pilsen that the soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division first met Soviets, who represented the forces of Communism that they would face so often in the future, as adversaries.

Though expecting to participate in the scheduled invasion of Japan, V-J Day found the 2nd Infantry Division back home again. After a series of stateside moves, the Indianheads were stationed in the state of Washington. From their Fort Lewis base, they conducted arctic, air transport, amphibious, and maneuver training.

With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea during the summer of 1950, the 2nd Infantry Division was quickly alerted for movement to the Far East Command. The Division arrived in Korea, via Pusan on 23 July 1950, becoming the first unit to reach Korea directly from the United States. Initially employed piecemeal, the entire Division was committed as a unit on 24 August 1950, relieving the 24th Infantry Division at the Naktong River Line.

The first big test came when the North Koreans struck in a desperate human wave attack on the night of 31 August 1950. In the 16 day battle that followed, the Division's clerks, bandsmen, technical and supply personnel, joined in the fight to defend against the attackers. Shortly thereafter, the 2nd Infantry Division was the first unit to break out of the Pusan perimeter, and they led the Eighth Army drive to the Manchurian border. It was at this time that the 2nd Infantry Division received a crucial new support element. In August of 1950, with American forces dwindling, the Korean Augmentation to the United States Army (KATSUA) program was established.

These valiant new 2nd Infantry Division troops, known since simply as KATUSA, helped turn the tide of the war for American forces. Now within 50 miles of the Manchurian border when Chinese forces entered the fight, soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division were given the mission of protecting the rear and right flank of the Eighth Army as it retired to the South. Fighting around Kunu-ri cost the Division nearly one third of its strength, but it cost the enemy many times more and the way was kept open. The 2nd Infantry Division finally blunted the Chinese winter offensive on 31 January 1951 at Wonju.

Taking up the offensive in a 2-prong attack in February 1951, the Division repulsed a powerful Chinese counter offensive in the epic battles of Chip-yong-ni and Wonju. The United Nations front was saved and the general offensive continued. Again in April and May 1951, the 2nd Infantry Division was instrumental in smashing the Communists' spring offensive. For its part in these actions the 2nd Infantry Division was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.

What followed were alternating periods of combat and rest, with the Division participating in the battles Bloody Ridge, Heart break Ridge, the outposts, and Old Baldy. Finally, on 9 April 1953, the Division was moved to a rear area and on 20 August 1954, 4 years after its last unit arrived in Korea, the 2nd Infantry Division was alerted for redeployment to the United States.

In the summer of 1954 the 2nd Division was transferred from Korea to Fort Lewis, Washington, where it remained for only 2 years, until being transferred to Alaska in August of 1956. Sadly, on 8 November 1957, it was announced that the gallant 2nd Infantry Division was to be transferred to Washington, DC, without personnel. In short, the Division was to be deactivated.

However, a few months later, in the spring of 1958, the Department of the Amy announced that the 2nd Infantry Division would be reorganized at Fort Benning, Georgia, with personnel and equipment of the 10th Infantry Division returning from Germany. Fort Benning remained the home of the new 2nd Infantry Division from 1958 to 1965, where it was initially assigned the mission of a training division. To improve combat readiness, in March of 1962 the 2nd Infantry Division was designated as a Strategic Amy Corps (STRAC) unit. Following this the Division became engaged in intensified combat training, tactical training, and field trainimg exercises, in addition to special training designed to improve operational readiness.

As a result of increasing tensions on the Korean peninsula, the 2nd Infantry Division returned to the Republic of Korea in July of 1965. North Korea had increased border incursions and infiltration attempts and the 2nd Infantry Division was called upon to help halt these attacks. On 2 November 1966, 6 soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry were killed in an ambush by North Korean forces. In 1967 enemy attacks in the demilitarized zone increased. As a result, 16 American soldiers were killed that year.

In 1968, North Korea continued to probe across the DMZ, but by 1970 the North had decided that their efforts against the 2nd Infantry Division were not worth the cost and most organized attacks stopped subsequently stopped. By March of 1971, Republic of Korean (South Korean) forces had assumed the responsibility for the defense of all but a mile's yards of the DMZ, allowing the 2nd Infantry Division to maintain combat readiness in case of any eventuality.

On 18 August 1976, during a routine tree trimming operation within the DMZ, North Korean border guards bludgeoned 2 American officers to death in a melee in the Joint Security Area, what resulted in Operation Paul Bunyan. The 2nd Infantry Division was chosen to spearhead the United Nations Command response to this incident and on 21 August 1976, Task Force Brady, a group of ROK soldiers, American Infantry, and engineers, swept into the area and cut down the now infamous "Panmunjom Tree." The 2nd Infantry Division delivered an unmistakable message to the North Koreans, as well as to the world.

Throughout the 1980s, soldiers of the 2nd Infantry Division continued to patrol along the DMZ. With the end of the Cold War, 2nd Infantry Division Warriors left the DMZ in 1991, but remained forward deployed along the most heavily defended frontier in the world. In 1994, the death of the North Korean leader, Kim, Il Sung, saw a period of increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula, this time the North was threatening nuclear development.

In 1994, and again in 1999, the 2nd Infantry Division received their 4th and 5th Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citations. In the meantime, on 29 March 1995, the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division was reactivated at Fort Lewis, Washington as part of I Corps. It gained the fame of becoming the Army's first Stryker Brigade Combat Team in May of 2000.

From November 2003 to November 2004, the 3rd Brigade Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In the sands of Iraq, the 3rd Brigade Stryker Brigade Combat Team proved the value of the Stryker Brigade concept in combat and logistics operations.

In August 2004, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, deployed to Iraq where they worked side by side with the Republic of Korea Army, just as it had while stationed in Korea. This deployment was unique in that it was the first operational deployment from the Republic of Korea.

In Iraq, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team was given strategic command to much of the sparsely populated area South and West of Fallujah. Their mission, however, changed when the major strategic actions began to take place within the city of Fallujah. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team was refocused and given control of the eastern half of the volatile city of Ar-Ramadi. For this mission, the Brigade fell under the direct command of the 1st Marine Division and for the second half of the deployment they were attached to the 2nd Marine Division. This command structure was ironic in that during World War I the 5th Marine Regiment and the 6th Marine Regiment of the 1st Marine Division had fought under the US Army's 2nd Infantry Division.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team fought in the Fallujah offensive in November 2004 and provided Iraqis the opportunity to vote in the historic national elections of January 2005. They spent the past year helping the citizens of Iraq build a secure future by battling the insurgency and establishing more favorable conditions for the emerging democratic Iraqi government. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team also trained and partnered with thousands of Iraqi Security Force soldiers, enabling them to better secure their country. Additionally, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team provided humanitarian relief to hundreds of displaced civilians, schools, hospitals, and the underprivileged across its area of operations. In August 2005, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team redeployed from Iraq to its new home at Fort Carson, Colorado as part of a drawdown of US forces in Korea.

From June 2006 to September 2007, the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Lewis, Washington in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the 3rd Stryker Brigade's second deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom their mission was to assist the Iraqi security forces with counter-insurgency operations in the Ninewa Province.

On 1 June 2006 at Fort Lewis, Washington the 4th Brigade, 2d Infantry Division was formed. From April 2007 to July 2008, the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team was deployed in as part of the surge to regain control of the situation in Iraq. The brigade assumed responsibility for the area north of Baghdad and the Diyala province.

From October 2006 to January 2008, the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Carson, Colorado in support of the Multi-National Division - Baghdad (led by the 1st Cavalry Division) and was responsible for assisting the Iraqi forces to become self-reliant, bringing down the violence and insurgency levels and supporting the rebuilding of the Iraqi infrastructure. On 8 April 2008, following its return from Iraq, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division was inactivated and its personnel reflagged as the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. It was planned that 5th Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division would eventually be reflagged as 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division had been activated on 4 May 2007 at Fort Lewis, Washington. At the time 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team was the Army's newest Stryker Brigade Combat Team and the seventh formed within the US Army up to that date.

In July 2010, the 5th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division was inactivated and reflagged as the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, which was subsequently reactivated. The 5th Brigade's Special Troops Battalion was also inactivated and reflagged as the 2nd Brigade's Special Troops Battalion, but the subordinate units were reassigned to the new 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:25:16 ZULU