2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Divisino (Mechanized)
2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)
In July 2004, the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) began transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. As a result its brigades were reorganized and redesignated as Brigade Combat Teams. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team retained 1-64th Armor, and initially 3-15th Infantry. 4-64th Armor was inactivated and reactivated assigned to the newly activated 4th Brigade Combat Team. E Troop, 9th Cavalry Regiment was inactivated and reflagged as the core component of the reactivated 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, also part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team. In 2006, 3-15th Infantry was reflagged as 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry. The modular shift also saw the addition of previously habitually assigned elements as organic units to the Brigade Combat Team, such as 1-9th Field Artillery and the 26th Brigade Support Battalion (redesignated and reorganized from the 26th Forward Support Battalion). Elements of the 10th Engineer Battalion, 103rd Military Intelligence Battalion, and 123rd Signal Battalion, as well as the 3rd Military Police Company, which were all inactivated, were reflagged as elements of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. The Brigade Combat Team also gained a cavalry squadron, the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, previously the Divisional Cavalry Squadron.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Spartans), 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) is located at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, one of 4 Brigade Combat Teams in the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized). The 2nd Brigade prior to the modular transformation had the distinction of being the single armor heavy brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division, affectionately known as its "Iron Fist," as it was the only armor-heavy brigade in the XVIII Airborne Corps.
The mission of the 2nd Brigade was to rapidly deploy to a contingency area by air, sea and land, and conduct mobile, combined-arms offensive and defensive operations to defeat an armored-heavy force. This mission called for the Spartan Brigade to accomplish several key tasks. Each of these tasks was directly and indirectly supported by the unique skills and expertise of over 4400 soldiers assigned to the Brigade upon alert. Each soldier in a unique specialty at various skill levels was required to remain proficient in his or her occupation and, furthermore, had to understand where they fit into the larger tasks and missions. Their role had to be synchronized to achieve a harmony of effort so that the individual skills of all Spartan soldiers could result in a collective effort that was greater than the sum of all the individual parts. The 4400-plus man brigade had over 31 associated specialties, each of which spanned 5 skill levels. One individual could not independently synchronize such an effort.
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) was originally constituted on 12 November 1917 at Camp Green, North Carolina, as Headquarters Detachment, 5th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
The Brigade tasted its first combat during World War I, and participated in 6 major campaigns. The most notable was the Battle of the Marne from which the 3rd Infantry Division derived its motto "Rock of the Marne." In March 1921, the Brigade was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 5th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. During this period it was the 2nd Brigade's privilege to have General George C. Marshall as its most distinguished commander.
On 16 October 1939, just prior to World War II, the Brigade was disbanded at Vancouver Barracks, Washington, due to the reorganization of the Army division structure from the "Square" to the "Triangular" concept.
The unit was reconstituted on 18 April 1963 in the Regular Army, and was redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division as the "ROAD" concept was adopted. On 17 June 1963, the 2nd Brigade was activated in Kitzingen, Germany, as a senior headquarters to one armor battalion and 2 mechanized infantry battalions. Here the Brigade remained as a major force of the 3rd Infantry Division. On 15 January 1994, the 2nd Brigade was inactivated.
The Brigade was reactivated on 16 February 1996, at Fort Stewart, Georgia as part of the XVIII Airborne Corps Rapid Deployment Force. The 2nd Brigade became the armor heavy brigade in the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized).
The Brigade deployed to the National Training Center (NTC) in May 1997. It had had a successful rotation, but was already scheduled for an additional rotation in January 1998. The 6 months from July 1997 through December 1997 were dominated by train-up for this second rotation. Despite the deployment, however, normal personnel transition cycles required placing continued focus on individual and crew qualification in preparation for the upcoming rotation. This training included 2 local gunners and 2 major maneuver-training exercises at Fort Stewart, Georgia. These training events were critical to the preparation of a combat vehicle crew for a deployment to the NTC. The tasks that accompanied a live fire maneuver event with an M1A1 Abrams tank such as those conducted at NTC were quite extensive and the crew that executed them had to gel as a team to ensure both accuracy and effectiveness, and exceed minimum safety requirements. Therefore, it was important to note that any given training cycle to the NTC would normally not stand-alone. A 6-month "ramp up" would typically accompany such a rotation.
While 2 of the 3 battalions were preparing for this NTC deployment, the other battalion, 4-64th Armor, was tasked as part of the Division Ready Brigade (DRB) with the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized), to deploy in support of any contingency operation. This heightened state of alert continued for 3 months. During this period, soldiers had their individual readiness requirements screened to include dental screening, wills, powers of attorney, vaccines, finance and pay status just to name a few. This screening was extremely important in that it was a deployability requirement, and thus an additional task for an already busy organization. However, it was also a means taking care of soldiers and their families back home to ensure a minimum standard of quality of life was maintained while their loved ones Were deployed. These soldier readiness checks helped the soldier avoid pay problems, health problems, or legal issues while they are deployed, thus allowing the soldier to remain focused on mission requirements and remain effective throughout the deployment.
In January 1998, the Brigade ultimately deployed 2 battalions of the Brigade for the anticipated NTC rotation. Upon returned to Fort Stewart, Georgia in February 1998, portions of the Marne Division were alerted to support Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. The Spartans prepared to assume the role of the FORSCOM Division Ready Brigade (DRB) with a mission to be prepared to immediately deploy with the remainder of the Division to Kuwait.
The Spartans assumed the duties of FORSCOM's DRB, prepared to deploy on a moment's notice, and would remain so for 3 more months until April 1998. This meant that the soldiers of the Brigade had begun an intense period of training in the summer of 1997 and did not stand down for 10 months. The stand-down would last one month.
In June 1998 the Brigade was given a series of concurrent missions. The Spartans again resumed the duties of DRB and did not relinquish them until after the first of the year in 1999. Additionally, they were assigned 2 back-to-back Intrinsic Action Missions in Kuwait. The first mission was assumed by Task Force 4-64th Armor in August 1998, which they would relinquish in December 1998. Task Force 3-15th Infantry would then assume the second mission and was not scheduled to return until April 1999. It should also be noted that a portion of the other battalion, 1-64th Armor, was deployed to NTC again in November 1998 in support of 3rd Brigade from Fort Benning, Georgia.
This pace was significant in itself, but the Brigade was alerted in November 1998 for a potential deployment to Kuwait. After a brief stand-down they were again alerted in December 1998 in support of Operation Desert Fox. At the time of the alert notification, the Brigade was executing 3 simultaneous tasks. They were deployed with the headquarters on a command post exercise in the local training area, deploying Task Force 3-15th Infantry to Kuwait for their scheduled Intrinsic Action rotation, and attempting to redeploy Task Force 4-64th Armor for their anticipated return from the desert.
In a 24 hour period after receipt of the alert, Task Force 4-64th Armor halted their redeployment and returned to the desert from their garrison area in Kuwait. The brigade completed the deployment of Task Force 3-15th Infantry, enabling them to draw equipment in Kuwait and move out into the desert. They subsequently returned the Brigade headquarters staff from the local exercise, packed equipment, and deployed into theater for potential Brigade operations. The crisis ultimately passed and Task Force 4-64th Armor and the Spartan Brigade headquarters returned. Task Force 3-15th Infantry continued operations as part of Intrinsic Action in Kuwait.
The 3rd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade and the Divisional Cavalry Squadron (3-7th Cavalry) went to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California for a month-long rotation. The actual training began in late March 2002, and 5,500 troops were sent there. Previously the Division deployed to Fort Irwin by flying its troops on commercial airplanes to California, where the troops used tanks and other equipment already at Fort Irwin. The Army later changed its training guidelines at Fort Irwin, and divisions were subsequently required to bring their own equipment. The Division would use one ship and more than 50 railroad cars to transport its equipment across the country.
In September 2002, 180 soldiers from the 123rd Signal Battalion and E Troop, 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry departed for Kuwait as part of the Desert Spring rotation. Additionally, 135 soldiers from the 1-64th Armor Regiment, part of the 2nd Brigade, departed during the latter third of that month. The 2nd Brigade was positioned in Kuwait to offset potential Iraqi aggression.
The 2nd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers moved out of their assembly area and crossed the Iraq border on 20 March 2003. From 20 March to 21 March 2003, as the Brigade occupied Attack Position Appalling, the first hostile act of the ground war was committed as Iraq fired SCUD missiles into Kuwait.
The Brigade began its combat operations on the evening of March 20 with a coordinated air, artillery, and ground attack to destroy enemy border operations and establish passage lanes.
From 21 March to 22 March 2003, the Spartan Soldiers made history as they conducted a attack into Southern Iraq, moving further and faster than any armored force. The Brigade covered 300 kilometers in 24 hours, posting itself deep in enemy territory prepared to continue the attack.
The Spartan Soldiers had their first significant enemy contact on 23 March 2003. From 23 March 2003 to 25 March 2003, the Brigade fought Fedayeen forces as it attacked to Objective Rams. After securing this objective in order to facilitate occupation by Division and Corps support elements, the Brigade continued to advance north to Objective Spartans through small arms, rocket propelled grenade, and indirect fire from conventional and irregular forces that, while at times sustained, were largely not coordinated.
The Spartan Soldiers faced their first urban fight on 26 March 2003 in An Najaf, where they relieved 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry of security of Euphrates River bridges. During this engagement, the "Desert Rogues" of 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment destroyed hundreds of irregular forces and numerous technical trucks.
The 2nd Brigade secured Objective Spartan on 31 March 2003. E Troop, 9th Cavalry got the enemy's position, and Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and tanks did the rest.
From 31 March 2003 to 1 April 2003, the Spartans attacked to seize Objective Spartan. Task Force 4-64th Armor attacked to seize the Euphrates River crossing at Objective Murray in order to cause the commitment of enemy forces from the north and east.
On 2 April 2003, the 2nd Brigade split into 4 battalions to fight in Karbala. The brigade was brought together at Objective Garth, a refuel point. The 4 battalions attacked and marched for 2 days straight. From 2 April 2003 to 3 April 2003, the Brigade initiated an attack north through Karbala in preparation for the attack across the Euphrates. On 4 April 2003, the entire 2nd Brigade converged on Objective Saints, the intersection of Highways 8 and 1, 10 miles from Baghdad, to control enemy movement to and from the city.
From 3 April 2003 to 4 April 2003, with portions of the 2nd Brigade still moving through the Karbala Gap, Task Force 1-15 Infantry of the 3rd Brigade led the attack across the Euphrates River to seize Objective Saints. Task Force 1-64th Armor followed and destroyed remnants of the Medina Division further south along Highway 8 with TF 4-64th Armor destroying enemy forces along Highway 1. Task Force 3-15 Infantry, operating under control of the 3rd Division Engineer Brigade, successfully repelled numerous counter-attacks on the crucial river-crossing site at Objective Peach.
So-called "Thunder Runs," quick trips from Objective Saints to Baghdad International Airport, began on 5 April 2003. On 7 April 2003 the Spartans attacked Baghdad. Their success resulted in 2nd Brigade being given a follow-on mission, about a month later, to quell another hot spot: Fallujah.
To achieve the goals, the Soldiers were out on patrol the very first night they got into Fallujah. A big part of the Fallujah mission was training the Fallujah Police Department to operate on its own. With the help of 3rd Military Police Company and other elements of the 2nd Brigade, the Fallujah police force made itself stronger and more capable. Another part of the mission for the Soldiers was letting the locals know they were there to help.
The 1-9th Field Artillery Soldiers, attached to the 2nd Brigade also had help from 1st Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Soldiers. They provided Soldiers and firepower at guard points along 1-9th Field Artillery route.
Part of the peace process in Fallujah involved getting rid of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, missiles and mortars. These were only some of the types of weapons and unexploded ordnance lying in and around Fallujah.
The 10th Engineer Battalion, attached to the 2nd Brigade, with help from the 890th Engineer Battalion, a National Guard unit from Picayune, Mississippi, spent their days collecting and destroying dangerous ordnance for the safety of both Soldiers and civilians.
The city's infrastructure was in bad shape before the war even began. The Engineer Brigade worked to fix it. They provided generators for the treatment plants and repaired the lines that carry water throughout the city.
The 2nd Brigade was the first unit in the Army to begin to be restructured under the Unit of Action concept, beginning in 2004. The Brigade demonstrated its capabilities at the National Training Center from 26 March to 10 April 2004. One difference between the previous Brigades and the new modular Brigade Combat Teams was the addition of assets that previously belonged to the division. Field artillery, signal, chemical and engineer units that once supported the Brigade were subsequently permanently assigned to the Unit of Action. Capabilities such as counter-intelligence, human intelligence, and electronic warfare had been moved down to the UA. Instead of 3 maneuver battalions, there would be only 2 in the UA. The UAs would be modular, each with one infantry battalion and one armored battalion. The 1-9th Field Artillery was also permanently assigned, minus a battery of Paladins that used to support the Brigade. The Brigade also lost a battery of air defense artillery, habitually attached from the 1-3rd Air Defense Artillery, as it transitioned to a UA. The 10th Engineer Battalion was inactivated and the 26th Forward Support Battalion was reorganized and redesignated as the 26th Brigade Support Battalion, organic to the Brigade Combat Team. In the past, the Forward Support Battalion and Engineers supported the 2nd Brigade in combat, but they were subsequently permanent UA assets, with engineers becoming an integral part of the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion. A signal company and military intelligence company were also part of the the Special Troops Battalion, along with a platoon of military police. A 4 person public affairs section would be part of the UA, and the headquarters would be beefed up by a total of 58 additional personnel.
In January 2005 the reorganized and redesignated 2nd Brigade Combat Team redeployed to Baghdad as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. The Brigade performed various missions in OIF III including direct action against terrorist forces, humanitarian missions and reconstruction efforts.
In 2007, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) deployed again to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, remaining that country into 2008.
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