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U.S. Army Central/ Third Army History


USARCENT Historical Summary (1918 - Present)

WWI: On Nov. 7, 1918 the General Headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces issued General Order 198 activating Third Army at Chaumont, France. Until deactivating in July 1919, Third Army served as part of the Allied Army of Occupation in Germany. Reconstituted in 1921 as part of the organized reserves, it was reconstituted in the regular army in 1931 and reactivated at Fort Sam Houston, Texas in 1932 to lead the training of National Guard and reserve forces.

Louisiana Maneuvers: Responding to the outbreak of war in Europe, in 1939 the U.S. Congress mobilized the National Guard and Reserve and approved personnel increases that more than doubled the size of the Regular Army. To train this new force and assess the readiness of current equipment and doctrine, Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall directed the Army to conduct large-scale field exercises. But even before Marshall's directive, Third Army was training soldiers for war. In 1936 Third Army held its first command post exercise, the two-week "Battle of Texas." Against notional coalition forces invading from the south, 270 officers ran scenarios that evaluated unit readiness. In 1938 Third Army conducted the first of several large-scale comprehensive field exercises known as the Louisiana Maneuvers. Against notional coalition forces invading from the south, the 1938 maneuvers trained more than 58,000 soldiers in a four-state area [Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi] in all aspects of combat. The 1940 maneuvers featured large armored formations and used scenarios similar to ongoing combat situations in Europe. The 1941 Louisiana Maneuvers were the largest U.S. Army peacetime maneuvers up to that time. More than 600,000 soldiers, divided into two armies, fought over a 30,000 square mile area of Louisiana and east Texas. Third Army's Louisiana Maneuvers provided vital training for soldiers who would go on to fight and win in Europe and the Pacific.

WWII: In 1944, as the Allies prepared for the invasion of Europe, Third Army was relieved of its training mission and deployed to the United Kingdom. In the summer of 1944, Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr. assumed command of Third Army leading it on eight major campaigns across France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Austria, and establishing Third Army as America's premier fighting Army. At the end of the war, Third Army became part of the Army of Occupation, remaining in Germany until 1947.

BETWEEN WARS: When it returned to Fort McPherson, Ga., it became an administrative headquarters responsible for the training of Army National Guard and Army reserve forces in the Southeastern United States. Deactivated at Fort McPherson in 1973, Third Army was reactivated there as USARCENT on Dec. 3, 1982 as the army headquarters for the newly established U.S. Central Command.

DESERT SHIELD/STORM: In response to Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait in Aug. 1990, USARCENT provided command and control, theater-level ADCON and sustainment for the two committed Army corps as well as overall land component planning responsibilities resulting in the liberation of Kuwait on Feb 26, 1991.

AFGHANISTAN: USARCENT remained engaged in Southwest Asia after the end of the Persian Gulf War, and soon after the Sep. 11, 2001 attacks, became responsible for providing command and control for all Coalition Forces engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom. As the Coalition Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC), USARCENT directed the ground war in Afghanistan and surrounding countries from Nov. 11, 2001 to May 31, 2002 destroying al Qaeda and Taliban terrorist networks.

IRAQ: In late 2002, CENTCOM designated U.S. Army Central as CFLCC for military operations against Iraq. Beginning on Mar. 19, 2003, controlling V Corps and I Marine Expeditionary Force, U.S. Army Central took only six weeks to complete the liberation of Iraq, moving faster than even Patton had during his great dash across France. The end of the campaign saw U.S. Army Central headquartered in Baghdad, directing its third occupation within one hundred years. U.S. Army Central headquarters returned to Kuwait, and in 2006 Headquarters, Department of the Army issued General Order #24 designating U.S. Army Central as an Army Service Component Command to USCENTCOM and perpetuating the lineage and honors of Third Army. 2011 conducted Operation Nickel II, reposturing and repositioning all Soldiers and equipment from Iraq.

TODAY: In July 2011, USARCENT relocated its main command post from Fort McPherson, Ga. to Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, S.C. collocated there with U.S. Air Forces Central. Resident in the Middle East for more than 20 years and hardened by leading a decade of combat, USARCENT remains America's land force professionals; experts in the Middle East and Central Asia.


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