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Military


Army / Field Army

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  • Normally, the senior tactical headquarters of the Army in the field will be the Corps. However, under certain circumstances, a tactical headquarters may be required above the corps. Such circumstances might include the commitment of a sizable number of corps on a large land mass, wide dispersion of forces, or instances where political or geographical conditions dictate wide variation in the nature of operational functions leaving responsibility for logistics, administration, and area control in the hands of the theater Army commander.

    There were eight numbered armies in FY 90, but they were reduced to seven in FY 91 with elimination of the Fourth U.S. Army at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. The seven armies were First U.S. Army, Fort Meade, Maryland; Second U.S. Army, Fort Gillem, Georgia; Third U.S. Army, Fort McPherson, Georgia; Fifth U.S. Army, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; Sixth U.S. Army, San Francisco, California; Seventh U.S. Army, Heidelberg, Germany; and Eighth U.S. Army, Seoul, South Korea. The Third Army served as a tactical field army and also as ARCENT, the U.S. Army component command of CENTCOM during the Persian Gulf war. The five continental United States armies (CONUSAs)-the First, Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth armies-commanded the USAR troop units within their geographical areas. They also directed the training of ARNG units within their geographical areas in accordance with HQDA and FORSCOM guidance. FORSCOM assigned the CONUSAs operational control for mobilization and deployment at all mobilization stations in their areas. In the event of full-scale mobilization, the CONUSAs were scheduled to become Joint Regional Defense Commands.

    In late 1994 Secretary of the Army Togo D. West Jr. and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan announced a plan to restructure the Army as directed by the October 1993 Bottom-Up Review. The First U.S. Army at Fort Meade, Md., and Sixth U.S. Army at the Presidio of San Francisco, Calif., were inactivated under the reorganization plan. Oversight for National Guard and Army Reserve training and mobilization consolidated under the two remaining CONUS-based army headquarters by the end of fiscal 1995. Second U.S. Army at Fort Gillem, Ga., controls reserve units from Minnesota to Louisiana and eastward. And Fifth U.S. Army at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, controls reserve units in the western United States.

    The Commanding General, United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), commands the numbered CONUS Armies (FIRST, SECOND, THIRD, FOURTH, FIFTH, and SIXTH), which (with the exception of Third Army) manage Reserve Component affairs within their specific geographic areas, and the major combat, combat support, and combat service support troop units in CONUS and Puerto Rico. He has command responsibility for the units related to readiness and defense missions. FORSCOM has command readiness responsibility for the bulk of the deployable Army troop units in CONUS. He commands the Army Reserve, establishes training criteria, and supervises the training of the Army National Guard.

    Field Army vs Theater Army vs Component Army

    During the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq the Third Army was a field army consisting of the VII Corps and the XVIII Airborne Corps. Similar to the Eighth Army's role in Korea, Third Army functioned as both a field army and a theater army. It also retained responsibility as the component army as well.

    • A Field Army is an operational headquarters formed by theater army commanders to control and direct the operations of assigned corps. It is normally constituted from existing army assets.
    • A Theater Army provides logistical support. A Theater Army establishes a structure that may include multiple theater army area commands (TAACOM), a medical command (MEDCOM), an engineer command (ENCOM), an air defense command (ADCOM), a transportation command (TRANSCOM), a personnel command (PERSCOM), a signal command, and a civil affairs command (CACOM), among other units. Normally, theater armies are not assigned operational roles. For example, in Korea and Germany, the Seventh and Eighth Armies are examples of theater armies, responsible only for logistics. In time of war, these two TA's sustain, support, and train army forces in the communications zone (COMMZ). In Korea and Germany, between the tactical formations and the combined theater command, there existed a combined operational headquarters to command and control coalition forces.
    • A Component Army consists of those individuals, units, detachments, organizations, and installations of the Army assigned to the unified command. The service component commander is responsible for all command aspects of his force, to include logistics within the unified command. The ASCC serves as the principal advisor to the CINC for supporting and employing ARFOR in theater and ARFOR outside the theater tasked to support theater operations. The ASCC may determine a need to consolidate functions under a deputy commanding general responsible for operations and a deputy commanding general responsible for support and logistics.
    Many argue that the army component commander cannot perform both operational and logistical duties efficiently. A headquarters must exist at an echelon above the corps to manage those activities conducted outside of corps boundaries or those activities outside the realm of a corps, though a need does not always exist to command operational forces at an echelon above corps. There is almost always a need for a theater army headquarters, or some similar logistical headquarters, to support the operational corps while there is not always a need for an intermediate operational headquarters between the deployed corps and the unified command.

    Field ArmyTheater Army
    First US Army
    Third US ArmyUS Army Central
    Fifth US ArmyUS Army North
    Sixth US ArmyUS Army South
    Seventh US ArmyUS Army Europe
    The Theater Army [TA] reports through the service chain of command to generate and support Army forces within the theater and responds to the combat service support needs of joint and combined forces as defined by the CINC. The TA communicates directly with DA concerning these functions, but not in a direct superior- subordinate manner. The operational chain of com-mand takes precedence if conflict between chains exists. Theater Armies are not fixed organizations; they are tailored to specific situations. This is accomplished through assignment of specialized Army units to assist and augment corps and division organizations.

    As the TA, Third Army commanded all Army forces in theater, but was not in the operational chain. With execution of Desert Storm on 17 January 1991, the theater assumed a greater complexity and scope. While creation of a joint or combined headquarters to serve as an intermediate operational headquarters between corps and the theater level is one option, a Numbered Field Army was employed instead to coordinate the actions of the tactical corps conducting the theater main attack. By assigning Third Army this responsibility for operational direction of the two US maneuver corps, the CINC placed Third Army in his operational chain of command.

    As an operational headquarters, Third Army was prepared to control up to five corps. Attainment of army operational objectives and the CINC's strategic goals was the focus. As such, the tactical-level warfighting was left largely to the corps. The staff supported this operational perspective with extensive situation assessment, estimate formulation and contingency planning. The numbered field army function of operational control of subordinate forces was not separate and distinct, but was integrated into the other responsibilities of Army component and TA. Third Army staff officers were hard-pressed to articulate which role they were performing at any moment during operations. Third Army served as the Army component command, the theater army and as a numbered field army. As a deployable army headquarters, not a geographic continental army, Third Army had the versatility, flexibility and experience to accomplish these tasks. It is important to stress the vital role played by a U.S. field army as both a combat and an administrative agency in World War II. The corps was a combat organization only, while for purposes of administration and supply, the army was supposed to bypass the corps. The organization of armies and corps was flexible and proved adaptable to changing circumstances in the campaigns in Europe during World War II.

    In 1930, the War Department published a Manual for Commanders of Larger Units (Provisional). Volume 1, Operations, was the first American effort to articulate a doctrine based on recent U.S. initiatives to guide larger units in the field. This early equivalent to later FM 100-15s described the philosophy of American participation in a mature theater of war. The regulation established the general headquarters (GHQ) to oversee the forces in the field and defined the various other echelons of command as required, i.e., army groups, field armies, corps, and divisions.

    By 1930, when General Douglas MacArthur was appointed Chief of Staff, it was becoming evident that World War I was not "the war to end all wars." MacArthur, although under strict materiel and personnel constraints, continued the battle for a viable force structure. Organizationally, he was able to establish a framework for mobilization and force expansion in case of war. Although proposed in the 1920s, the establishment of Army areas in CONUS was not realized until 1932, when four field army headquarters were established to facilitate general mobilization.

    Six months after U.S. entry into the war, on 29 June 1941, Chief of Staff George C. Marshall promulgated a new doctrinal statement on large units, FM 100-15, Field Service Regulations, Larger Units. This document, in addition to describing the functions and operations of army groups and armies as the 1930 manual did, also discussed joint land, sea, and air operations and placed much greater emphasis on large-scale, extensive "theaters of operations." Field Service Regulations, Larger Units, June 1942, did not, ever, use the term "theater army," and there was, no mention of combined operations with Allied forces.

    On 4 January 1943, the U.S. Fifth Army under the command of General Mark Clark was activated at Ojuda, Morocco. The missions of this Army were to preserve the territorial integrity of French Morocco and Algeria, prepare a strike force for amphibious operations, prepare pans, and work with French civil and military authorities.

    In January 1944, the American ground force organization included only the 1st Army Group and the First Army. To complete the headquarters required for the invasion and to administer the new divisions arriving in England another US field army headquarters was established. Third US Army Headquarters under command of Lieutenant General George S. Patton was created in late January 1944. Army troops for the headquarters and the bulk of staff officers came from Third Army Headquarters in Texas where it had served as a training army. Lieutenant General Patton also brought a nucleus of staff officers from his Seventh Army in North Africa. Third Army served under the lst Army Group. Lieutenant General Patton's presence in England was used to deceive the Germans into the belief there would be a second landing. Using false communications the Allies sought to convince the Germans Patton actually led another US Army Group in Britain. With the establishment of Third U.S. Army, the combat command organization for Overlord was finalized.

    On 6 June 1944, an Allied Expeditionary Force of five divisions, organized into four corps, two field armies, and one army group landed on the German-occupied coast of Normandy. Eleven months later on 7 May 1945, when that force completed its mission, it included eighty-seven divisions organized into twenty-three corps, nine field armies, and three army groups. From the invasion to victory in Europe, the organization of the Allied Expeditionary Force changed and developed to accommodate the increasing number of units and to confront operational demands.



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