Fort Campbell, KY – Brig. Gen. Mark Stammer, the acting commander of Fort Campbell, KY, while the 101st Airborne Division is deployed to Afghanistan, held a press conference yesterday to discuss the Upcoming Force Reduction and Reorganization Strategy that will see the 101st Airborne Division lose the storied 4th Brigade Combat Team “Currahees”.
The 101st Airborne Division was quick to assure the community that this does not mean a mass loss of personnel from Fort Campbell as the Soldiers and other personnel will be redistributed among the remaining brigades both locally and within the Army, which will mean an increase in personnel for the remaining Brigade Combat Teams on post.
A total of about 320 soldiers, along with a “minimal number” of civilian support positions will likely be lost under the plan, most though the normal attrition process.
The move is part of the Army’s force reduction and reorganization strategy, which will reduce its active Brigade Combat Teams from 45 to 33 by fiscal year 2017, as the Army works to down the active-duty force from about 560,000 to 490,000 as it transitions from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“With the planned force structure the Army retains its ability, its adaptability, and flexibility to provide regionally aligned and mission tailored forces in support of our national defense requirements,” said Brig. Gen. Stammer.
He continued, “The lessons learned over the last 12 years and advice from our tactical commanders have indicated that adding a third maneuver Battalion to our Brigade Combat Teams will make the Brigade Combat Team a more effective fighting force. Regardless of if it’s in a counterinsurgency environment or a higher level conflict, the addition of that third maneuver force will make it a better force overall.”
Stammer stressed that this reorganization is not a result of Budget Sequestration, “These actions taken by the Chief of Staff and the Secretary of the Army are a result of the Budget Control Act and our defense strategy, and not sequestration,” but he warned “If sequestration is fully implemented the headquarters of the Department of the Army will have to do additional analysis, additional cuts would likely be forthcoming.
The Budget Control Act requires a mandatory $487 billion reduction in spending by the Defense Department, with the Army’s share of that being roughly $170 billion.
Other Army Posts affected as well
The Brigade Combat Teams which are affected are:
- 3rd BCT, 1st Armored Division, Fort Bliss, Texas
- 4th BCT, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, NC
- 4th BCT, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY
- 3rd BCT, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado
- 3rd BCT, 10th Mountain Division, Fort Drum, NY
- 4th BCT, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas
- 3rd BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Knox, KY
- 4th BCT, 1st Infantry Division, Fort Riley, Kansas
- 2nd BCT, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, GA
- 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, WA
Since 4th Brigade Combat Team is currently deployed, Stammer stressed that would be the 101st Airborne Division’s primary concern, “We are focusing on the Currahees being deployed, and continuing to support their mission downrange.”
The Heritage of the Currahees
This is the history of the unit.
The 506th Infantry Regiment, with a historic lineage beginning during World War II and commonly recognized from the Emmy award-winning HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers”, was constituted July 20th, 1942 at Camp Toccoa, GA.
The Regiment was given the motto “Currahee,” a Native American Cherokee word which means “stands alone”—a name that would become synonymous with its combat history. On March 1st, 1945, the 506th was assigned to the newly formed 101st Airborne Division. The Division’s first commander, Major General William C. Lee observed that “the 101st has no history, but it has a rendezvous with destiny.” The 506th Infantry was destined to write its history in places such as Normandy, Arnhem, Bastogne, the Central Highlands of Vietnam and Cambodia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
Under Colonel Robert F. Sink’s command, the Regiment proved itself over the skies of France as the lead element of the massive Allied D-Day invasion, June 6, 1944. With the objective to seize the high ground immediately behind the Normandy beach in order to prevent the Germans from reinforcing their shoreline defensive positions, the Regiment distinguished itself as the Soldiers of the 506th when they successfully conducted a night airborne insertion into German occupied France and secured their objectives.
For its exploits at Normandy, the 506th Infantry Regiment received a Presidential Unit Citation. The 506th later parachuted into combat as a part of Operation Market Garden and earned its second Presidential Unit Citation for actions while successfully resisting the vicious German assaults at Bastogne. The final significant event during World War II occurred when the 506th drove into Southeastern Germany and overran Hitler’s famed “Eagle Nest” in Berchtesgaden. On Nov. 30, 1945, the 506th Infantry was inactivated at Auxerre, France.
The Regiment was twice reactivated as a training unit at Breckenridge, KY, July 1948 to April 1949 and August 1950 to December 1953, and later reactivated in May 1954 at Fort Jackson, SC. On April 25th, 1957, the 506th was reorganized as part of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell. In December 1967, the 506th deployed to the Central Highlands of Vietnam. While in Vietnam, the Regiment was converted from Airborne to Airmobile Infantry. They served four years in Vietnam, earned twelve battle streamers and were awarded a fourth Presidential Unit Citation for actions at Dong Ap Bia Mountain at the north of the A Shau Valley.
The 506th was deactivated in 1984. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry regiment was later reactivated in 1987, to serve at Camp Greaves in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. They served in Korea until August 2004 when they deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. From August 2004 to July 2005, the 506th made huge strides in reducing the insurgent menace in their battle space. They conducted numerous search, raid, and sweep missions resulting in the detention of hundreds of insurgents and the destruction of a multitude of weapons and ordinance caches. The 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment deactivated September 15th, 2005.
The 506th Infantry Regiment was re-activated on Sept. 15, 2005 at Fort Campbell as the 506th Brigade Combat Team, providing regimental designation to the newly created 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). The entire Brigade, structured under the Army Modularity Concept, deployed for combat a short two months later to Iraq for a year in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 05-07.
The Brigade’s Soldiers added to the rich legacy of the 506th, setting the Army standard for route sanitization, conducting thousands of combat missions in Baghdad and Ar Ramadi, capturing or killing over 1,000 insurgents, and training Iraqi Army and Police forces. The Brigade’s task organization included 22 battalion-sized elements. The 1-506th Infantry Battalion fought in Ar Ramadi, while 2-506th Infantry Battalion fought in South Baghdad.
The remainder of the Brigade fought in East Baghdad, securing a population of over 4.9 million residents and a landmass of over 1,600 square kilometers. Soon after a successful redeployment, the Brigade, in the midst of personnel and equipment reset, became the Army’s Division Ready Brigade, once again poised for short-notice worldwide operations.
As the Currahees “Stood Alone” as the Army’s Division Ready Brigade, they deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in March 2008. The 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan and transitioned to Combined Task Force Currahee, consisting of almost 6,000 service members from the United States, Poland and the Czech Republic to promote peace and prosperity to the people of Paktya, Paktika, Khost, Ghazni, Logar and Wardak, as part of Combined-Joint Task Force 101. The Currahees returned to Fort Campbell from the operation in March 2009.
In February of 2010, the Brigade received orders to deploy to Afghanistan for the second time.
As part of the final portion of the 2010 surge of Soldiers into Afghanistan as ordered by President Barak Obama, the 4th Brigade Combat Team deployed to Afghanistan in August of 2010 and transitioned into Task Force Currahee as part of Combined-Joint Task Force 101.
The Currahees were deployed to Paktika Province in Eastern Afghanistan in August 2010. Incidentally this was a familiar province to Currahees from their 2008 to 2009 deployment. However this deployment Task Force Currahee moved into only this province, quadrupling the number of Currahees in the area of operation.
Task Force Currahee, partnered with the Afghan National Security Forces and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was responsible for Paktika Province, Eastern Afghanistan in order to promote a stable and peaceful environment free from the tyrannical rule of the Taliban.
After spending nearly a year continuing to build and foster relationships in the province, Currahees completed their redeployment back to Fort Campbell in August of 2011.
The brigade is currently deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Maj. Gen. James C. McConville has expressed his desire to the army commanders to see two of the 506th Infantry Regiment’s battalions along with their units colors to be merged in with other three remaining infantry brigades on Fort Campbell. Stammer pointed out, “the final decision-making authority on that will obviously be the Headquarters, Department of the Army and the Center for Military History and the heraldry folks up there.”
“But the important thing to note here though is if our Commanding General’s intent is granted and approved back in Washington, the 506th lineage will live on; just as part of another Brigade Combat Team.” he concluded.