3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized)
"Rock Of The Marne"
The 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized) is part of the XVIII Airborne Corps, one of the nation's premier units for dealing with contingencies. The 3rd Infantry Division, based at Fort Stewart and Fort Benning, Georgia, deploys through Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia.
The 3rd Infantry Division was activated at Camp Greene, North Carolina, in November 1917. Eight months later, at midnight on 14 July 1918 the Division went into combat for the first time. During World War I, as a member of the American Expeditionary Force to Europe the Division earned its name as the "Rock of the Marne," when surrounding units retreated, the 3rd Infantry Division remained. Although the stand was quite successful, the unit suffered many casualties.
In World War II, the 3rd Infantry Division was one of the Army's premier assault units. General Lucian K. Truscott, Jr. led the division in battles in North Africa, Sicily, Italy, and France. As the sole United States fighting force for 531 continuous days of combat, the 3rd Infantry Division fought in places like Casablanca, Anzio, Tome, the Vosges Mountains, Colmar, the Siegfried Line, Palermo, Nurnberg, Munich, Berchtesgaden, and Salzburg.
3rd Infantry Division soldiers earned 2 medals of Honor during World War I, and 36 more during World War II. The most decorated soldier in World War II was among them: Lieutenant Audie Murphy, serving with the 15th Infantry Regiment in Italy and France.
During the Korean War, the 3rd Division, being known as the "Fire Brigade", received 10 Battle Stars. The Korean War also added 11 more Medal of Honor recipients, bringing the total to 49.
In April 1958, the Marne Division returned to Germany to secure the defense of Western Europe.
In November of 1990, soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division were once again called into action. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, more than 6,000 Marne men and women deployed for Operation Desert Storm as part of the Allied Coalition that brought a swift end to Saddam Hussien's military aggression in the Gulf region. Nearly 1,000 soldiers deployed to Southeastern Turkey and Northern Iraq as part of Operation Provide Comfort charged with protecting Kurdish Refugees. Almost 100 were part of Task Force Victory, which began the task of rebuilding Kuwait.
A new chapter of Marne history began with the activation of the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) at Fort Stewart and in the Coastal Empire. Three Army divisions were reflagged as the Army restructured from 12 to 10 active Divisions.
The 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was reflagged as the 4th Infantry Division, and the 24th Inf. Division was reflagged as the 3rd Infanry Division. The 3rd Infantry Division, stationed in Germany, was reflagged as the 1st Infantry Division. The reflaggings occured during FY96. The Army's restructuring plan was announced in December 1994. It called for the inactivation of the headquarters and division support units of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, and the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. The reflagging plan ensured that 2 of the Army's most famous and decorated divisions remained in the active force. The plan to reflag the divisions to remain was developed by the US Army Center of Military History, which maintained records of Army unit lineage and honors. The center prepared an order-of-precedence list based on unit age, campaign participation, and awards and decorations. Units were then rank-ordered by category, providing a framework for the Army leadership to make its decision.
After an intense period of training at both Fort Stewart, Georgia and Fort Polk, Louisiana, elements of the Marne Division deployed Task Force Eagle to Bosnia-Herzegovina for a peace enforcement mission called Stabilization Force 8 (SFOR 8) as part of Multinational Division (North). Transfer of authority to the 3rd Infantry Division was conducted on 5 October 2000. Midway through this deployment (SFOR 8), 2nd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division was relieved by the 48th Brigade of the Georgia National Guard on 1 April 2001 for SFOR 9. The SFOR 9 transfer of authority was conducted on 5 October 2001 and transferred to the 29th Infantry Division and Marne Soldiers returned home.
Bosnia was not the only place where Marne Soldiers worked as a peacekeeping force. Task Force Falcon, under the leadership of the 101st Division (Air Assault) utilized large parts of the 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division to perform essential peace keeping duties in the ravaged province of Kosovo. More than 2,400 3rd Infantry Division soldiers of the 1st Brigade joined approximately 2,200 101st Airborne Division soldiers in May 2001 as part of the Kosovo Force, or KFOR, for NATO peacekeeping and peace enforcement duties, in the Multi-National Division (East) sector of the province. Soldiers patrolled the sector along with soldiers from Greece, Russia, Poland and Ukraine. All returned to Fort Stewart by late November 2001.
The 3rd Infantry routinely sent troops to Kuwait starting in the early 1990s. In 1998 the Division deployed to Kuwait in response to Saddam Hussein's expulsion of UN weapons inspectors. The Division also rotated troops through the Intrinsic Action exercise, along with other Army units. The 3rd Division was relieved from the rotation in 2000 and 2001 because of its peacekeeping mission in Kosovo. As of early 2002 it was announced that the Division would be the only Army unit training in Kuwait. Until the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks, the Army assembled a Desert Spring force with soldiers from about 5 different units. Under the new policy, 3rd Infantry Division would rotate its 3 brigades and one brigade from Fort Reilly, Kansas, in and out of the region.
In January 2003, Soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division (Mechanized) were officially informed that they were headed for the Middle East to do their part in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Throughout the early months of 2003, a multitude of flights proceeded to carry the Marne Division's more than 20,000 Soldiers to the Middle East, where they continued to train in preparation for the possibility of war. Although some elements of the Division had been incountry as early as September 2002, the majority of Marne Soldiers arrived shortly after the new year.
With a potential combat in the near future the 3rd Infantry Division trained hard in Kuwait. The Division units conducted regular physical fitness training, desert tank tables, hot refuels and road marches, military operations on urbanized terrain, artillery livefires, enemy prisoner of war, sniper, nuclear, biological and chemical attack, trench, and engineer training.
As part of the training the Division practiced "jumping," quickly breaking down, relocating and building, its tactical operations center in preparation for rapid movement through Iraq. Soldiers also conducted extensive maintenance on vehicles and equipment, since the desert sand was hard on tracks and weapons.
Finally, after months of anticipation, the call came. On 20 March 2003, the Division began to cross the border from Kuwait to Iraq, beginning Operation Iraqi Freedom.
After combat, Soldiers from 3rd Infantry Division shifted focus to support and stabilization operations in an effort to rebuild the war-ravaged country. The Soldiers conducted foot patrols and mounted patrols in every sector of the city, scanning the streets for signs of danger. They also had fixed sentries outside many gas stations and mosques maintaining the peace. They arrested looters, curfew breakers, citizens with weapons and drunk and disorderly citizens.
Soldiers helped refurbish and reopen schools, hospitals, soccer fields, zoos and even amusement parks. They distributed hundreds of soccer balls, school supplies, air conditioners, fans, medical supplies and thousands of gallons of propane fuel. They met with the Sheiks and Imams in each neighborhood, to determine what was best for its inhabitants. They also helped restore power and water to many neighborhoods.
Following the Division's deployment and return to the United States following Iraqi Freedom, the Army initiated a major reorganization of the 3rd Infantry Division, instituting so-called units of action that were streamlined and organized in a lighter fashion. In February 2004 the Army directed that the 3rd Infanry Division (Mechanized) adopt the CSA approved Armored Unit of Action design developed by the Training and Doctrine Command Task Force Modularity. This modular Unit of Action model contained several significant changes from the previously approved reorganization COA for the Division. The most significant changes involved the creation of a Reconnaissance Battalion for each Unit of Action, similar to the structure found in the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams. The addition of a fourth maneuver company to each Armor and Infantry Task Force, the assignment of an Engineer Company to each maneuver Task Force in lieu of the Direct Support Combat Engineer Battalions assigned to each Brigade from the Division Engineer Brigade, and the retention of 16 Paladins, organized into 2 batteries, in each Direct Support Artillery, or Strike Battalion were also important.
In the first field test of the new brigade structure at the National Training Center from March 26 through 10 April 2004, the 2nd Unit of Action (later termed Brigade Combat Team, a term previously used to describe Brigades with attached Division level assets) of the 3rd Infantry Division demonstrated the new capabilities of the Division's Brigades. One difference between the previous Brigades and the new Units of Action was the addition of assets that previously belonged to the Division. Field artillery, signal, chemical and engineer units that once supported the Division were subsequently made organic to the Brigade. Capabilities such as counter-intelligence, human intelligence, and electronic warfare were also organic to the Brigade.
In January 2005 elements of the 3rd Infantry Division deployed again to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom III. 1st and 3rd Brigade Combat Teams deployed as part of Task Force Liberty, headed by the 42nd Infantry Division, and later as part of the 101st Airborne Division task force. Deployed elements of the 3rd Division returned in January 2006.
In 2007 elements of the 3rd Infantry Division prepared for their third deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06. These elements continued to serve in that country into 2008.