The 34th Infantry Division was reorganized and redesigned as a active National Guard division on 10 February 1991, replacing the 47th Infantry (Viking) Division. The Division and its subordinate units are actively involved in their respective states' missions to provide a ready response to to natural disasters and civil disturbance. They are also involved in Division and Brigade Warfighter Exercises, Overseas Deployments to Europe and Central America, Combat Maneuver Training Center rotations, Norwegian Exchange and Officer and NCO Exchanges with United Kingdom and Germany.
As of 2001 the 34th Infantry Division had a required strength of 18,062 soldiers while its force structure is spread across seven states (Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Illinois, Colorado, and Michigan). The 34th Infantry Division's aviation units are located in Michigan and Colorado.
As a result of the Army Division Redesign Study, the 34th was reportedly earmarked for re-organization. The study proposed cutting two Divisions and converting up to 12 current Divisional brigades to CS/CSS units. The 32nd Infantry Brigade, formerly part of the 34th Infantry Division, began the transition to a Separate Enhanced Brigade in 2002 following the inactivation of the NY ARNG 27th Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Light). The remaining 34th Infantry Division headquarters was converted to a Command and Control Headquarters, similar to the 35th Infantry Division.
As of 2004 the Division's nearly 11,000 soldiers were located across five states -- Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, Colorado and Michigan. Minnesota is home to the Division Headquarters, located in Rosemount, a southern suburb of the Twin Cities. The First Armored Brigade and its associated Combat Team elements are all in Minnesota. The Air Assault Brigade is headquartered in Iowa. The Division was awaiting assignment of a Third Combat Brigade.
The RED BULL insignia of the 34th Infantry Division was based on a design by Marvin Cone of Cedar Rapids, IA who drew it for a contest while training with the Division at Camp Cody in 1917. A steer skull imposed on the shape of a Mexican water jar (called an "olla") recalled the Division's desert home not far from the Mexican border. During WW II, German soldiers in Italy referred to the American soldiers who wore the familiar patch as "Red Devils" or "Red Bulls". The latter name stuck, and the Division soon adopted it officially, replacing its WWI name of the "Sandstorm Division".
The 34th Infantry Division was created from National Guard troops from Minnesota, Iowa, the Dakotas and Nebraska in the late summer of 1917. It arrived in France in October of 1918 but was too late to see action in World War I as the war ended the following month.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt had ordered the 34th Infantry Division, among others, to active duty for a period of 12 consecutive months unless sooner relieved. Although the call-up was authorized in October 1940, the camp they were to occupy had not yet been readied. Consequently, February 10, 1941 had been set for the official muster. Few men in the 34th Infantry believed that they would return to civilian life after one year for the world's militaristic scenario offered little hope.
The 34th Infantry Division was activated during World War (WW) II on February 10, 1941. After completing several small-scale maneuvers, the division, by then under the command of Maj. Gen. Russell P. Hartle, participated in the Louisiana Maneuvers, which involved the Second and Third U.S. Armies. The Division made a good showing at the Louisiana Maneuvers. With the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941 and declaration of war, the division was spread through the South, guarding sensitive installations. But January 1, 1942 found them enroute to Fort Dix, N.J. for subsequent shipment overseas. As the first U.S. Division to be shipped overseas, Pvt. Henke of Hutchinson, Minnesota was credited as being the 1st American soldier to step off the boat in support of the war effort.
The Division participated in six major Army campaigns in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. The Division is credited with amassing 517 days of continuous front line combat, more than any other division in the European theater. One or more 34th Division units were engaged in actual combat with the enemy 611 days. The division was credited with more combat days than any other division in the theater. The 34th Division suffered 3,737 killed in action, 14,165 wounded in action, and 3,460 missing in action, for a total of 21, 362 battle casualties. Casualties of the division are considered to be the highest of any division in the theater when daily per capita fighting strengths are considered. There is little doubt the division took the most enemy-defended hills of any division in the European Theater. The division's men were awarded 10 Medals of Honor, 98 Distinguished Service Crosses, one Distinguished Service Medal, 1,052 Silver Stars, 116 Legion of Merit medals, one Distinguished Flying Cross, 1,713 Bronze Stars, 51 Soldier Medals, 34 Air Medals, with duplicate awards of 52 oak leaf clusters, and 15,000 purple hearts.
The U.S. Rangers trace their lineage through the 34th Infantry Division. Volunteers from the 34th Division provided 80 percent of the men for a newly formed 1st Ranger Battalion and many of them participated with the British Commandos in the famous raid on Dieppe, France. During WW II, the 1st Ranger Battalion was formed under the command of one of the Division's officers, CPT William Darby. Eighty Percent of the 1st Ranger Battalion's volunteers were drawn from the 34th, and they soon became famous as "Darby's Rangers".
In 1946 the 34th Infantry Division was reorganized with headquarters in Iowa under the command of Maj. Gen. Ray Fountain. An additional National Guard division was authorized, and Minnesota, anxious to have a division headquarters, became headquarters for the new 47th Infantry Division.
In 1968 a reduction in Army National Guard divisions was ordered, and high-level political and military leaders in Minnesota prevailed upon the powers that be to place the historical 34th Infantry Division on inactive status while retaining the history-devoid 47th Infantry Division as an active Guard division. Although the 34th Division Headquarters was originally located in Iowa and now is in Minnesota, most Red Bull veterans feel--politics aside--that a grievous wrong has been righted.
More than 1,100 Minnesota Army National Guard's 34th Red Bull Infantry Division soldiers officially started their largest deployment since World War II Sept. 30, 2003 in a Transfer of Authority at Peacekeepers Hall on Eagle Base in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most of the 34th ID soldiers had already deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina in support of Operation Joint Forge as the NATO-led SFOR 14 peacekeeping mission by the middle of September. There are four task forces in SFOR 14. Task Force North or Iron is composed of soldiers from 2nd Battalion, 194th Armor headquartered in Duluth, Minn., Task Force South or Bearcats has soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 136th Infantry headquartered in Moorhead, Minn., Task Force Aviation with soldiers mostly from the Texas Army National Guard and Task Force Medical Eagle which has both Army Reserve and Guard soldiers from several states. These U.S. forces are stationed at Eagle Base, Camp McGovern, and Camp Connor. SFOR 14's American contingent soldiers are from 29 states and two territories.