REFLAGGING IN THE ARMY
In combat, individual exploits and personal valor are important, but team effort wins the fight. The Army pays close attention to team performance, to the organizations in which its soldiers serve and fight, and to the flags and colors that symbolize those organizations. In the same way that patriots fight for their country's flag, soldiers fight for their unit colors. It is one of the missions of the U.S. Army Center of Military History to retain on the rolls of the Army those organizations with the greatest heritage.
The older an organization, the more soldiers, both active and retired, have had the opportunity of serving in and identifying with it and the more opportunities the organization has had to win battle honors. As the Army continues to shrink, it is essential that our oldest and most honored organizations remain. As posts close and units inactivate, flags and colors move around to ensure their retention. The term reflagging was coined in the 1980s to describe this phenomenon formerly called a "transfer less personnel and equipment." While such actions have occurred occasionally throughout the Army's history, they increased after World War II as the Army placed more emphasis on retaining units with the most history and honors.
For those who say, "What does it matter " there is no response, since for those outside the institution unit numbers mean little and their history is unimportant one organization is much the same as any other. But for those soldiers who have served in the "Big Red One," the "Wolfhounds," or "The Blackhorse Regiment," unit pride is very much a part of their lives.
Others criticize the cost involved: in manufacturing new flags, colors, patches, insignia, and stationery; in moving historical property; and in painting unit areas and signs. But retaining the Army's heritage may be the most cost effective approach to enhancing combat effectiveness. The smaller the Army becomes, the more colors and flags go into mothballs flags and colors that symbolize its values and traditions making it even more imperative that the oldest and most decorated organizations survive to inspire the soldiers remaining.
Since World War II the Army has effected approximately two dozen division reflagging actions (see Appendix A). In each instance division elements were reflagged along with the division headquarters. The first such action in the active Army occurred in 1950 when the 6th Infantry Division replaced the 4th Infantry Division in the training base at Fort Ord, California, so that the 4th could be used as a combat division. In 1954, after the Korean War, four National Guard divisions that had been called to active duty were reflagged by four active Army divisions so that the Guard organizations could return to state control. In 1965, when the 1st Cavalry Division was chosen to become the Army's first airmobile division, the 2d Infantry Division and elements of the 11th Air Assault Division at Fort Benning, Georgia, were reflagged as the 1st Cavalry Division, which then deployed to Vietnam. The 1st Cavalry Division, then serving in Korea, was in turn reflagged as the 2d Infantry Division, and the 11th was inactivated. After the war in Vietnam, another round of divisional reflaggings took place: the 5th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, was reflagged as the 4th Infantry Division; the 1st Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was reflagged as the 1st Cavalry Division; the 4th Armored Division in Germany was reflagged as the 1st Armored Division; and the 24th Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, was reflagged as the 1st Infantry Division.
To determine which divisions would be retained, three different
scoring systems were developed and used to rate their priority between 1946
and 1954. The Off ice of The Adjutant General (TAG) devised the first in 1946;
the second evolved in the Office of the Chief of Military History (CMH, the
predecessor of the Center of Military History) and was in use between 1950 and 1954; and the third, which CMH devised in 1954, has been used ever since. All three systems had two factors in common a unit's age and campaign participation credit. Both the TAG system and the CMH system of 1950 1954 embodied controversial subjective areas. The TAG system included points for divisional elements, service in war theaters, and foreign decorations. The first CMH system included points based on days in combat, unit "renown," and individual decorations. The current system eliminated the subjective areas in an effort to arrive at a simple, impartial, and defensible solution that could be universally applied. Continued usage since its inception has proven its worth.
The Army currently uses the following factors to determine the historical priority of divisions and brigades and the point value assigned to each:
a. Age--one point for each year
since initial organization. (No points are subtracted for periods of inactive
b. Campaign participation credit--two points for each campaign.
c. US unit decorations--two points for each award.
The first major reflagging actions not tied to divisions came with the adoption of the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) in 1957. Before the adoption of CARS, whenever the nation entered periods of military retrenchment, units were invariably broken up, reorganized, consolidated, or disbanded. During periods of mobilization, large numbers of new units were created. Changes in weapons and techniques of warfare produced new units to replace old ones. As a result, soldiers frequently served in organizations with little or no history, while units with long combat records remained inactive.
In the late 1950s, requirements for maneuverable and flexible major tactical organizations demanded highly mobile divisions with greatly increased firepower. The regiment was deemed too large and unwieldy for this purpose and was broken up into smaller organizations (most artillery and armored regiments had already been broken up for similar reasons during World War II). When divisions were reorganized under the Pentomic structure in 1957, the regimental organization was eliminated, thus raising questions as to the names of the new units, their numbering, and their relationship to former organizations.
On 24 January 1957, the Secretary of the Army approved the CARS concept. The Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel (DCSPER) had designed CARS to provide a flexible regimental structure that would permit perpetuation of unit history and tradition in the new tactical organization of divisions without restricting organizational trends of the future. The number of active Army regiments and battalions was reduced to allow multiple battalions within a regiment to serve a variety of assignments, both in the Regular Army and the Army Reserve. The point system used for prioritizing divisions was adapted for the regiments. CARS was instituted in phases: Reorganization of Regular Army regiments, Phase I (1957); Reorganization of Army Reserve regiments, Phase II (1959); Reorganization of Army National Guard regiments, Phase III (1959); and Mobilization Planning, Phase IV (1957 to the present). Phase V, the organization of regimental headquarters, was suspended indefinitely. Within a period of three years all infantry, armor, and artillery units were reorganized, as well as reflagged, under the new system.
The next major reflagging of regimental elements, prompted
by the drawdown in Army forces after the war in Vietnam, occurred in 1972 after
a major study conducted by representatives from the Offices of The Adjutant
General, the Chief of Military History, the Assistant Chief of Staff for Force
Development, and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. Battalions in armor,
infantry, field artillery, and air defense artillery were reflagged to preserve
the most honored regiments in the active force. The largest unit to be reflagged,
the 14th Armored Cavalry, had been stationed in Germany since its arrival there
in World War II. The 14th Armored Cavalry was reflagged in May 1972 as the 11th
Armored Cavalry, which had earned numerous honors in Vietnam, and the 14th was
During the late 1970s and early 1980s there was increased interest in adopting a regimental system (in many ways similar to plans for the Combat Arms Regimental System adopted in 1957) for the US Army. The Army Chief of Staff, General Edward C. Meyer, influenced by sociological studies on unit cohesion and a study prepared by the British and Canadian liaison officers to the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC), took great interest in the idea. The initial concept paper, published in December 1980, viewed the new regimental system largely as a personnel replacement system whereby the regiment would be paramount, fixed combat divisions would be eliminated, and flexible brigades would become the headquarters for the regimental elements.
Under the new regimental system, later designated as the US Army Regimental System (USARS), each regiment was to have from four to six battalions that would rotate between a home base in the United States and an overseas post. Having more than one or two battalions in a regiment automatically reduced the number of regiments that could be retained in the Army. In June 1982, at a meeting attended by Lt. Gen. Maxwell Thurman, the DCSPER, Lt. Gen. William R. Richardson, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans (ODCSOPS)), and Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, the Chief of Military History, among others, General Meyer requested that the Center of Military History provide the "point system used for priority ratings; a list of regiments with ranks 'and points; synopsis of each regiment; and list of famous officers within the regiments." The Center offered a variety of methods for rating the regiments; the "Collins (after the Chief of Military History) system," which used a variable point system (see Appendix B), was subsequently adopted. At an in progress review on 5 October 1982, General Meyer approved the first sixteen regiments, the first two of which were implemented (reflagged) in January 1983.
In 1984 the US Army Regimental System Group (representatives from DCSOPS, DCSPER, and others) met from 20-22 March to review the implementation schedule for the remaining regiments. Because of equipment incompatibility, the group decided to recommend a one year delay in schedule and an indefinite delay in using regimental designations in the training base. On 28 January 1985, General John A. Wickham, Jr., the Chief of Staff, directed Lt. Gen. Fred K. Mahaffey, the DCSOPS, and Lt. Gen. Robert M. Elton, the DCSPER, to formulate a new regimental study. No implementation of the existing plan was to be executed in 1985.
There was widespread dissatisfaction with the reflagging actions under USARS. As early as May 1985 General Elton requested that at least one infantry regimental designation be assigned to a division with which it had served in combat. In June 1985 the unit rotation aspect of USARS was divorced from the regimental designations, and implementation of the system passed from DCSOPS to DCSPER. Because of the break between unit rotation and unit designation, there was no longer any plausible reason for reflagging. Nevertheless, it continued through 1989 and was even expanded to include aviation units and training organizations.
In April 1988 General Arthur E. Brown, Jr., the Vice Chief of Staff (VCSA), questioned the rationale behind reflagging, and the following month remaining implementation of USARS was transferred to CMH and to the US Total Army Personnel Center. In December General Brown stated that several units were complaining about their "new" designations and asked for a study to look into the following options concerning USARS: stop the program; continue the program; or revert to the pre-USARS alignment. On 23 December General Brown reluctantly agreed that implementation of USARS should continue but that another study should be undertaken to decide in what direction the Army should proceed with the regimental system.
In the meantime, some inactivations had taken place (the
largest being the 2d Brigade, 9th Infantry Division, in September 1988 at Fort
Lewis, Washington, and the 2d Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, in December 1989),
and requests for changes to the approved system continued to surface in February
1989 the 2d Infantry Division requested the return of the 9th, 17th, 23rd, 31st,
and 38th Infantry regiments. In April the Center of Military History provided
information for use by the Secretary of Defense in response to a letter concerning
the 24th and 25th Infantry and USARS and in May 1989 prepared a draft for the
Chief of Staff in response to a request from General Crosbie
E. Saint, Commander, US Army, Europe (USAREUR), concerning dissatisfaction with the "regimental" system. The real issue in the last request was what to designate those units remaining in Germany after mandated reductions of US Army forces in Europe were accomplished.
On 23 January 1990, the Center of Military History prepared a memorandum for General Robert W. RisCassi, the VCSA, instituting a group to study the retention of units during force reductions. To assist USAREUR, the Center provided General Saint with priority lists for divisions and corps. The first meeting of the group took place in April. At that time a message was drafted for Lt. Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, the DCSOPS, to send to all major Army commands (MACOMs) concerning retention of units during the drawdowns. The message issued by the new DCSOPS, Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Reimer, on 6 June 1990, explained that historical precedence would not determine which units would be retained during force reductions, but that a study group to include representatives from DCSOPS, DCSPER, and CMH would be formed at the end of fiscal year 1991 to formulate a policy for retaining units in the active force structure.
As the Army downsized, distinguished organizations disappeared from the rolls. The Center prepared responses to Congress concerning the demise of the 2d Infantry, to the Armor School about the inactivation of the 33d Armor, and to General Saint in answer to his plea to retain the 2d Armored Division. The 1st Armored Division commander wanted his traditional units returned, and veterans inquired about the possibility of bringing back the 24th Infantry, the last segregated Regular Army infantry regiment, which had been inactivated in 1951. The 3d Armored Division asked to have its World War II elements reinstated. Despite these requests, the 6 June 1990 memorandum prevailed, and the study group's charter was sustained.
In September 1990 the Center of Military History prepared a paper recommending retention of the 1st Armored Division and the 3d Infantry Division in Europe (General Saint had requested retention of the 1st and 3d Armored Divisions), which was briefed to General Sullivan, now the VCSA, on 12 October. During the briefing the discussion was widened to include areas outside USAREUR, with General Sullivan deciding to use the CMH rating system to determine the retention of divisions. A follow on briefing was held on 26 October at which General Reimer, the DCSOPS, was directed to provide information on the projected force structure and Brig. Gen. Harold W. Nelson, the Chief of Military History, to prepare another briefing recommending which divisions were to remain on the rolls. At a briefing on 6 December General Carl E. Vuono, the Chief of Staff, requested a follow up briefing with guidance for 1) options for a 12 , 13 , and 14 division force; 2) options that did not include more than one move per division; and 3) options that included a total of 3 armored divisions (tank heavy) in the force structure. Guidelines for the regimental elements are included in Appendix B. On 18 December General Sullivan accepted the CMH briefing as presented for a 12 division force and informed General Vuono. Three months later General Sullivan directed General Reimer, the DCSOPS; Lt. Gen. William H. Reno, the DCSPER; and General Nelson, the Chief of Military History, to come up with a "straw man" for a 4 corps, 12 division Army with the divisions having their traditional elements. After a meeting of the study group on 2 April 1991, General Nelson suggested to General Sullivan that the issue be put on the agenda of the Spring Senior Army Commanders' Conference because of the turbulence involved.
Drawdowns continued during the interim despite an ongoing
buildup of US forces in Southwest Asia. A brigade of the 2d Armored Division
at Fort Hood and a brigade of the 9th Infantry Division at Fort Lewis had been
inactivated in September 1990, and the remainder of the 9th was inactivated
in February 1991. As part of the process, the 9th Division's 3d Brigade was
reflagged as the 199th Infantry Brigade. After the crisis in Southwest Asia
abated, the 1st Brigade, 2d Armored Division ' was reflagged as the 3d Brigade,
1st Cavalry Division, and the 197th Infantry Brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia,
was reflagged as the 3d Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, replacing the former
Army National Guard round out brigades. While these actions brought the 1st
Cavalry and 24th Infantry Divisions up to full strength, the 1st Infantry Division
was reduced when its brigade in Germany (1st Infantry Division Forward) was
inactivated in the summer of 1991.
At a briefing on 16 May 1991, Chief of Staff General Vuono decided to retain the following twelve divisions in the Army after completion of force reductions: the 1st and 3d Armored Divisions and the 1st Cavalry Division (three armored divisions); 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 7th, 24th, and 25th Infantry Divisions (seven infantry divisions); and the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions. However, no immediate public announcement of this decision was to be made because of the possibility of further reductions and because of pleas from veterans, particularly those from the 2d Armored Division, which was to be inactivated. General Saint, the USAREUR commander, was informed of this decision on 15 July 1991, and he soon formulated plans for reflagging units within his command.
After several meetings of the regimental study group, General Sullivan was briefed on 12 August concerning residual division designations in USAREUR. He then tasked the Center to provide a briefing on the 12 division force structure (to include regimental designations) for the Fall Senior Army Commanders' Conference. (Appendix B contains the guidelines.) On 17 September 1991, General Sullivan, the recently appointed Army Chief of Staff, approved the 12 division plan for presentation at the conference.
During briefings for General Sullivan and General Reimer, the VCSA, on 18 and 20 December, options were discussed for the 2d Armored Division, 194th Armored Brigade, 199th Infantry Brigade, and 2d Armored Cavalry. General Sullivan decided to have the 199th Infantry Brigade at Fort Lewis reflagged in July 1992 as the 2d Armored Cavalry, but made no decision on the armored division designation at Fort Hood. The 3d Armored and 8th Infantry Divisions were inactivated in Germany; the 3d Brigade, 2d Infantry Division, was inactivated in Korea; and the 2d Armored Cavalry replaced the 199th Infantry Brigade at Fort Lewis.
The 2d Armored Cavalry was scheduled to move from Fort Lewis to Fort Polk, Louisiana, to become the light cavalry regiment for the XVIII Airborne Corps. Numerous problems ensued: the reorganization had not taken place concurrently with the reflagging; the tables of organization and equipment had not yet been approved; and the light cavalry equipment had not yet been fielded. General Sullivan, however, was adamant that the 2d Armored Cavalry not have any period of inactive status. Imposing regimental designations on an existing brigade organization was not an easy task for any of those involved, a feat repeated, nonetheless, two years later when the 177th Armored Brigade at the National Training Center was reflagged as the 11th Armored Cavalry in 1994.
Letters of instruction concerning reflagging had once been the responsibility of The Adjutant General, but with the breakup of that office in the late 1980s, implementing the Chief of Staff's reflagging orders fell to the Center of Military History, which in turn issued letters of instruction to the field so that the MACOMs could publish permanent orders inactivating and activating (reflagging) the units. On 6 February 1992, a meeting was held with representatives from DCSOPS, the US Army Force Integration Support Agency (USAFISA), and USAREUR to discuss the drawdown and reflagging efforts in Germany. The Center was requested to prepare a decision paper for General Sullivan, and DCSOPS was to solicit comments from the MACOMs on actions in USAREUR that would affect them. One of the chief concerns was that units on the ground retain their unit identification codes (UICs) after reflagging. (When the Army automated in the 1960s, alphanumeric UICs were assigned to units to be used in much the same way as an individual's social security number.) While retaining the on ground UIC made it easier on those using automated logistical and personnel systems, it was harder for those trying to keep track of the units themselves. Basing its actions largely on the Center's plan for a 12 division force, USAREUR executed about 50 percent of its reflagging actions, including that of the 8th Infantry Division as the 1st Armored Division, to realign elements within the two divisions (1st Armored and 3d Infantry) remaining in Germany, but did not complete them, because further reductions in the force structure were pending.
In April 1992 the briefing on reflagging given at the 1991
Fall Senior Army Commanders' Conference was revised and forwarded to the seven
MACOMs that would be affected, with a request that they return their comments
to the Center of Military History by the end of the month. The Center prepared
two versions, since no decision had been made as to whether the 5th Infantry
Division would be reflagged as the 2d or 3d Armored Division and moved to Fort Hood. When no decision resulted from a briefing on 27 May to General Sullivan, the Center prepared a memorandum formally requesting a resolution to the impasse. On 13 July General Sullivan selected the 2d Armored Division to replace the 5th Division, and the reflagging took place in December 1992. At the same time, the 1st Cavalry Division reflagged its elements to retain those regiments traditionally associated with the division, and both divisions were reorganized to reflect their status as standard armored divisions (five tank and four infantry battalions).
One issue that had surfaced during the drawdowns was the disposition of inactive corps and division flags. In his memorandum of 9 June 1992, General Nelson recommended that a 1971 DCSPER plan authorizing the Infantry, Patton, and 82d Airborne Division Museums to display duplicate division flags be reaffirmed and that duplicate flags for inactive corps be authorized for display at Fort Leavenworth. All original flags were to be retired for storage. General Sullivan issued a message approving the Center's recommendations (see Appendix Q.
Meanwhile, the Army continued to downsize. In September 1993 two brigades of the 7th Infantry Division were inactivated at Fort Ord, California. At a briefing on 12 November, Lt. Gen. John H. Tilelli, Jr., the DCSOPS, directed his staff to provide the Center with time lines for reorganizing the Army into a 10 division force. The following month the Center presented a briefing outlining two options, one with 2 armored and 6 infantry divisions and one with 3 armored and 5 infantry divisions. The armored divisions recommended for retention were the 1st Cavalry and the 1st and 2d Armored Divisions, while the recommended infantry divisions were the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th, 7th, and 25th. The 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions were retained in both versions. The recommendations, which were not changed until January 1995, reflected both the type of division and the traditional division priority system. Designing the 10 division force to include their elements was difficult because of constant changes in stationing plans and in the mix of armored and infantry divisions. In the meantime, the 2d Brigade, 3d Infantry Division, was inactivated in January 1994, the 6th Infantry Division (less its 1st Brigade) and the 7th Infantry Division (less its 1st Brigade) were inactivated in the summer, and the 193d Infantry Brigade was inactivated in October.
One brigade of the 1st Armored Division in Germany was ordered to return to the United States for posting at Fort Lewis, Washington, where it would be aligned with the 2d Infantry Division in Korea. Planning began in July 1994 to reflag the brigade and its elements to affiliate it with the 2d Division. General Sullivan approved reflagging the brigade on 26 December 1994, which was effected in April of the following year.
On 8 December 1994, the Army announced publicly that it would become a 10 division force, to consist of four light and six heavy divisions, all stationed at existing installations. It was also announced that the 25th Infantry Division would lose a brigade in Hawaii but gain one at Fort Lewis and that the brigade in Alaska would be aligned with the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York. The previous plan, which aligned Alaska with Hawaii and Fort Lewis with Fort Drum, was put on hold after it was briefed in November 1994 to members of the Senate from Alaska and Hawaii. Specific unit designations were to be announced later.
On 12 January 1995, General Sullivan approved the following
divisions for retention: 1st Armored Division; 1st Cavalry Division; 1st, 2d,
3d, 4th, and 25th Infantry Divisions; and the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions.
In addition, the 10th Mountain Division and 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division,
were also to be retained. General Sullivan requested that the Center of Military
History coordinate the press release and information to Congress with the Secretary
of the Army's Public Affairs Office. Problems arose because the force structure
officially was to consist of two armored, four mechanized, two light, and two
special purpose divisions, based on the Center's priority system. Because of
the mix of tank and mechanized infantry battalions in two of the divisions,
however, the force structure actually consisted of four "armored" (tank heavy)
and two "mechanized" (infantry heavy) divisions. The final, approved plan also
included two special purpose and two light (one minus a brigade) divisions,
plus one light brigade, which did not appear to reflect the Center's
priority system (see Appendix D). However, General Sullivan had determined that divisions considered for retention would be only those currently in the active force structure.
Once the ten divisional designations had been settled, movement could begin again on reflagging the regiments. On 16 February 1995, letters signed by Lt. Gen. Charles E. Dominy, the Director of the Army Staff, were forwarded to each of the MACOM commanders. The letters, each with an enclosed reflagging plan, requested MACOM comments. The reflagging plan, basically the same as that furnished to the MACOMs in 1992, was revised to reflect the new 10-division force and to incorporate comments and suggestions the MACOMs had previously requested.
Between February and June 1995 negotiations between the MACOMs and Army Headquarters over the recommendations outlined in the plan took place. Controversies arose because, even though the plan had incorporated most of the changes the MACOMs had requested, changes in personnel resulted in different viewpoints as to what the units should be designated. Other disagreements occurred because some MACOM commanders distributed the plan to their subordinates for comment, while others did not. Any change of unit designation in one command could affect another command. Some difficulties arose because the brigades that were separated from their divisions (brigades in the 1st Armored, 1st Infantry, and 4th Infantry Divisions) and the 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division, in Alaska were organized somewhat differently than divisional brigades, and the designations being imposed did not always reflect their true organization. There was also a long standing discussion concerning replacing the divisional brigades in the light divisions (including the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions) with tactical regiments. A major concern of all MACOMs was the expense involved in reflagging. Hardest hit were units in Germany, where about 50 percent of the units had already been reflagged, and the 2d Armored Division at Fort Hood, which had been reflagged from the 5th Infantry Division three years earlier.
Eventually, all the problems were negotiated successfully except designations within the 1st Brigade, 6th Infantry Division, in Alaska. Lt. Gen. Robert L. Ord, commanding US Army, Pacific, wanted them to remain associated with the 6th Division. In May 1995 Lt. Gen. Paul E. Blackwell, the DCSOPS, directed that the units be aligned with the 10th Mountain Division. This decision brought to an end over three months of debate concerning more than 170 units in the Army, about one third of the total force.
On 16 June 1995, General Sullivan approved the reflagging of elements of the 10 division force as well as regimental elements elsewhere in the Army. The approved plan with execution dates (Appendix E) was forwarded to the affected MACOMs on 26 June 1995. The 1st Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, was to be reflagged as the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, on 16 August 1995 (based on the inactivation date of the 25th's brigade in Hawaii. The 3d Infantry Division in Germany was to be reflagged as the 1st Infantry Division and the 24th Infantry Division as the 3d Infantry Division on 16 February 1996 (based upon the 1st Division's inactivation at Fort Riley on 15 February). The 2d Armored Division was to be reflagged as the 4th Infantry Division on 16 March 1996 (based on the 4th's inactivation at Fort Carson on 15 March). All other dates shown on the plan were target dates and subject to negotiation with the MACOMs.
Reflagging and Unit Property Concerns
Perhaps the greatest difference between the reflagging actions
of the 1990s and those in the past was in the way the Army funded the program.
During the intervening years the Army, as well as the rest of the Defense Department,
had decentralized its finances. For reflagging, the Army and its affected units
needed money to transfer or manufacture flags, colors, insignia, and organizational
property. The Center of Military History managed historical property in accordance
with Army Regulations 870-5 and 870-20. The property was in museums, in the
hands of the units, or in storage at Pueblo, Colorado, and Anniston, Alabama
(the Anniston depot was mainly for the storage of weapons). Until 1991 all flags,
colors, and guidons were under the control of The Institute of Heraldry, with
a storage area in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania.
In 1991 the New Cumberland Army Depot was slated to be transferred to the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), but the Army staff strongly resisted transferring the responsibility for Army colors to the Defense Department. Because The Institute of Heraldry had decided to focus its efforts on the design of heraldic items, it was willing to turn the issue and storage of colors over to another agency. Lt. Gen. Ellis D. Parker, the Director of the Army Staff, transferred that mission to the Center of Military History on 1 May 1991. The question then became where to store the flags and colors. Because the Pueblo depot was already scheduled for closure, the collections stored there were to be transferred to a new storage facility to be built in Anniston, Alabama. The new building was intended only to replace that space already in use at Pueblo, but in order to centralize storage operations the colors were moved to Alabama in 1991.
With the downsizing of the Army, space in which to store organizational historical property became critical by 1993. Post closures and unit inactivations resulted in increasingly crowded spaces, and one large group of artifacts from the Presidio of San Francisco was stored at Fort Lewis, Washington, because space at Anniston was nonexistent. The closure of the Pueblo depot in 1994 forced the Center of Military History to look for new storage space, because it was obvious that the replacement building at Anniston would not be ready in time to receive the property from Pueblo. In late 1994 the property at Pueblo was transferred to temporary storage at the Defense depot in Albany, Georgia. However, because of an agreement with Defense Department officials in Albany to keep activity at a minimum, the Army property there was to be treated as "dead storage." Therefore, the Center was not able to verify what was in storage at Albany, and inquiries by units as to the location of their property could not be answered.
In 1992 the Army depot at Anniston, where weapons and flags were being stored, was also transferred to DLA. By the time the new building at Anniston was completed in 1995, DLA required that the Center vacate its warehouse at the Anniston depot. When that happened, the new CMH building at Anniston was filled with flags and weapons, leaving no room for the large amount of unit historical property in temporary storage at Albany.
When the flag storage mission was transferred to the Center in 1991, funding to support it was directed, but none was ever received. Thus, the Center acquired approximately 19,000 line items with no funding to cover storage, equipment, or the usual costs associated with supply actions, Unlike DLA, the Center did not charge for its services and therefore had no basis upon which to estimate or recover costs associated with reflagging actions. Colors and small amounts of property could be mailed, registered with a return receipt, and the cost could be absorbed. But if the property weighed over 70 pounds, DLA charged the units both the cost of actual shipment and handling fees. In one case, the cost of a shipment of roughly 300 pounds of property from Germany was estimated at over $5,000, which covered delivery only to Letterkenny Distribution Depot, Pennsylvania, the first transshipment point.
There were also storage fees. Prior to implementation of the Defense Business Operations Fund (DBOF), there had been no charge for storage space to any Army organization, and space was allocated as needed. But with DBOF, particularly once Anniston was transferred to DLA, the Center was charged for both storage and handling fees. In part because DBOF restrictions precluded museums from charging for their services, the Center was not equipped to handle the acceptance and disbursement of funds and never made an effective attempt to create a reimbursable account to pay for the shipment, receipt, or storage of the property received. Thus, all expenses of receiving and storing materiel came out of the Center's operating funds.
Lack of funding also extended to the units themselves. There
were no additional funds authorized, and the whole program was managed from
existing budgets. In those instances where money was simply unavailable to ship
items to units, the materiel remained in storage until support was received
from the Air National Guard to move items on a "space available" basis. The
cost was exacerbated with the increase in reflagging actions. From about fifteen
such actions per year, the number rose to over one hundred in 1994-1996.
Gradually, standard disposition instructions were developed to include flags as well as property. After coordination with US Army, Europe, and based upon experiences from realignments and base closures, the Center developed new disposition instructions that addressed colors, historical property, official and unofficial records, monument vehicles, and unit fund property and included specific instructions on how to pack and ship colors (see Appendix F). An information sheet, directed to units being inactivated because of base closures and reflagging, was created, initially for units in the 6th Infantry Division in Alaska and later extended to other organizations as needed. When a unit was to be inactivated and therefore to retire its colors and property, it would send a request to the Center for disposition instructions. If a unit was being activated, it would send a request to receive materiel. If the unit was already in service somewhere else, the Center would send disposition instructions to the existing unit directing the transfer of the materiel to its new location. If materiel was in storage, the Center would direct the storage facility to retrieve and send the items. As time went on, it became practice, before the formal request arrived, to refer the unit to the storage area telephonically to check on the status of the materiel.
A number of problems arose. In the reflagging actions of 1991, units often did not know whom to contact, and little guidance was readily available. The situation was further aggravated by the fact that the flag regulation (AR 840-10) still specified New Cumberland as the point of deposit for retired colors and had not been updated to reflect the transfer to Anniston. It was difficult for the Center to deal directly with the units as there were no firm addresses or points of contact, and reflagging actions varied with each unit involved. In the Regular Army, an independent company or detachment often sent its guidon directly to New Cumberland, its property to Pueblo, or in some cases sent neither, resulting in the loss of the materiel. Where large units were being inactivated, there was usually a single point of contact, which worked much better than units acting on their own. When a transfer of property was needed between two organizations, many units simply contacted each other and transferred the property. While the result was that the job got done, it played havoc with the Center's responsibility for accountability. In other cases, the losing unit sometimes resisted turning the materiel over to the gaining unit until the last minute. All units wanted to have inactivation (or reflagging) ceremonies, but there was only one flag, color, or guidon, and it could not be displayed in two places at once. If the two units were separated by some distance, one unit or the other had to compromise. In some instances, the compromise consisted of the gaining unit having to have a new set of colors made locally. Sometimes the flags might be transferred in time for the ceremony, but if the losing unit was inactivating quickly and losing large numbers of its personnel, the flags sometimes did not arrive at all.
In cases where the Center was to issue flags and property from storage, everything worked smoothly, provided the previous unit had turned in its property, the gaining unit asked for the property with enough lead time, and the gaining unit provided money for shipment. But there were many instances where the system broke down. If units had not turned in their property to Anniston, the Center had to investigate where it had gone. For example, some engineer units had been turning their flags in to the Engineer Museum at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and for some time infantry units had been turning items in to the Infantry Museum at Fort Benning, Georgia. The 1st Infantry Division Forward had sent its property to its home post of Fort Riley, Kansas, in 1991. In many cases the property stayed with the unit on the ground, even though its designation was now that of another. Finally, in a few cases it was reasonably clear that the materiel had either been taken home as souvenirs or thrown away. Therefore, the possibility of noncompliance with instructions by a unit affected by reflagging had to be anticipated, and the gaining unit could then expect to have to requisition new flags from the US Army Support Office in Philadelphia, a process that could take several months. Also, neither Philadelphia nor the units had extra money to cover the cost of their manufacture.
The first major round of reflagging after Operation Desert
Storm revolved around the 1st Brigade, 2d Armored Division, at Fort Hood, Texas,
and the 3d Brigade, 24th Infantry Division, at Fort Benning, Georgia. This was
the first time the Center had been involved in the retirement and issue of flags,
rather than property alone. The Center had some previous experience assuming
property from inactivating units during base closures, but the big difference was that base closures provided funding for the retirement of property, while reflagging did not.
In the aftermath of DESERT STORM, the Army in Germany was undergoing a massive reduction in forces and closure of posts and kasernes. When Center museum teams visited Germany in 1991, they identified a number of problems: first, it was clear that the USAREUR historical office had neither the personnel nor the time to manage the retirement program on its own; second, the Army museums in Germany could not manage it either (the six existing museums had a total of seven employees); third, the Army had to find a way to ship surplus vehicles to the United States; fourth, a holding area for vehicles and ordnance needed to be established in Germany; fifth, all vehicles needed to be permanently marked to prevent their improper disposal.
US Army, Europe, was also reflagging its units to keep the most historic ones active. Some units diligently screened and took inventory of their property, while others did not. For example, at Hutier Kaserne in Hanau, where the 42d Field Artillery Brigade and elements of the 82d Field Artillery were located, the point of contact was the brigade command sergeant major (CSM). The brigade had recently been reflagged from the 3d Armored Division Artillery, and the CSM was concerned that the division artillery colors had been lost. In the meantime, the new brigade had acquired the former 42d Field Artillery Brigade's property, which included colors from World War 1. But with the brigade scheduled to undergo at least one more reflagging within the year, all these actions seemed to be of no avail.
Accountability for historical property, even large items such as vehicles, was spotty. Items were turned over to foreign museums, to property disposal offices, or to the "boneyard" at Grafenwoehr to be used as targets. There were strong rumors, since confirmed, that historic items, particularly vehicles, had been turned over to local German museums without authorization. Since most of these vehicles had never been listed on the Center's property books, however, little could be proved.
Further complications arose from the fact that the remaining vehicles in Germany were being tracked under the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty. Even though the vehicles, which included World War II halftracks and scout cars, for example, were considered obsolete, other countries still used them, which resulted in their inclusion in the armament covered in the treaty. The majority of the vehicles that sat in front of unit headquarters were excess Military Assistance Program (MAP) property that had been returned to the United States by France or Belgium. Most of this materiel originally had been sent to Grafenwoehr as targets, but range control officers there had decided to allocate them to units as "monuments" to prevent their destruction. The basic rationale was a sympathy for their historic background coupled with a strategy to meet treaty requirements. Unless designated as museum pieces, the vehicles counted against CFE Treaty ceilings. Since USAREUR at that time was only about seventy vehicles below the ceiling, the presence of large numbers of World War II vehicles in a status other than museum pieces threatened the target level of the ceiling. Unfortunately, the "museum" designation also required fulfilling the demilitarization terms of the treaty. Vehicles had to have their drive trains cut and filled with concrete, practices directly counter to Army museum regulations.
The reality of excess vehicles in Germany, both accounted for and unaccounted for, led to the idea of establishing a holding area for those rendered excess by the drawdown. There they could be reissued officially in Europe or shipped back to the United States. Removing them from Europe would not only reduce the inventory of tactical vehicles there, aiding in meeting and maintaining CFE ceilings, but it would also save historic items.
The USAREUR plan for retiring colors and historical property
envisioned that the command's historical office would coordinate the disposition
instructions, but that the units would otherwise deal directly with the Center.
In practice, however, it was found easier to have all units submit their requests
for disposition through the USAREUR historian and for the Center to send disposition
instructions back through the same office. This worked well until the situation in Bosnia so overwhelmed the USAREUR historical office that it could no longer manage unit drawdowns effectively.
The USAREUR plan also envisioned units retiring materiel directly to the Center's clearing facility at Anniston, but many commanders wanted to hold and consolidate property and colors at brigade or division level for retirement, in part to ensure that all the colors of a given division or brigade were present for final inactivation ceremonies. Unfortunately, announcements of inactivations were often made with only two months' lead time. The actual drawdown became a scramble, with historical property being forgotten until the last minute. Even when colors and other items were consolidated, once inactivation occurred there was often no one left to ensure that they were shipped to storage.
In August 1992 the Center fielded a second team to Germany to continue inventories and check on the progress of a new museum for the 1st Armored Division. By this time, only the first round of reflagging actions had been completed. While the team made some progress, much of that was fleeting, both because of continuing drawdowns in Europe and because of internal moves and reorganizations within the Center itself. Another year went by before a team could again be sent to Germany. Funding remained a major roadblock. Finally, as a result of a grant by the Legacy Program in the amount of $30,000, the Center dispatched three teams to Germany in August-September 1993. The stated purpose was to conduct an inventory of historical artifacts that would document the US Army's role during the Cold War in Europe. Among the accomplishments of the teams were the continuing inventory of historical vehicles throughout Germany; an inventory of property in Berlin (the garrison there being withdrawn); and assistance to the 11th Armored Cavalry, which was being inactivated. No holding area had yet been established, but its creation was given to the USAREUR historical office as a mission, and in late 1994 an area at Kaiserslautern was identified. By this time only two of the original six Army museums were left, those of the 1st Armored and the 3d Infantry Divisions, and it was expected that both would be affected by a further round of reflagging in the near future.
Implementation of the 1995 Reflagging Plan
When the reflagging plan was announced in June 1995, response in the field varied. The 2d Armored and 1st, 4th, and 25th Infantry Divisions began moving to reflag their units immediately. Due to its growing involvement in Bosnia, the 3d Infantry Division decided to wait for official reflagging orders from the Center of Military History. The 24th Infantry Division did not begin to react until late 1995.
As in previous reflagging actions, the Center issued memorandums of instruction to the MACOMs directing the actions necessary to implement the Chief of Staff's decisions. Each MACOM in turn published the appropriate permanent orders activating and inactivating or transferring a unit, less its personnel and equipment (reflagging). The organization on the ground retained its UIC per the request of both USAREUR and US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM). The first issued memorandum directed the reflagging of the 1st Brigade, 7th Infantry Division, at Fort Lewis, as the 1st Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, while the last memorandum to be implemented, in February 1997, affected elements of the 1st Armored Division.
Although the effective date of reflagging the brigade at Fort Lewis was 16 August 1995, the Center did not issue the memorandum of instruction until 20 July because of coordination that had to be made with the Office of the DCSOPS over the UICs and "long names" (unit designations) to be entered into the Army's data bases. (Normally, about eighteen months is necessary for changing the status of a unit.) The 25th Infantry Division then requested that its other units in Hawaii be reflagged on the same date. Consequently, the Center issued a second memorandum on 10 August.
Reflagging the 2d Armored Division at Fort Hood presented
a major documentation problem. The III Corps commander changed General Sullivan's
directed date of official reflagging from 15
March to 15 January 1996. Because the 4th Infantry Division was active at Fort Carson until 15 March, it was impossible to have it also active at Fort Hood between 15 January and 15 March. Therefore, the Center of Military History had to issue orders activating new units at Fort Carson (in effect reflagging the 4th Infantry Division) to maintain them and their personnel until 15 March. That action allowed the 4th Infantry Division and its elements to transfer to Fort Hood on 15 January. The Fort Hood reflagging ceremony, however, was on 15 December 1995, which further complicated the issue.
Having long periods of time between the effective date and the ceremonial date also adversely affected unit records and history. Although the permanent orders and data bases reflected the official dates, the units on the ground continued to generate records under their old designations. Veterans, archivists, and historians of the future may find it difficult to understand how some units were in two places at the same time.
At Fort Carson, activities centered around drawing down the 4th Infantry Division to a single brigade and moving its headquarters to Fort Hood. At Fort Hood, the museum became the focal point for all matters pertaining to flags, colors, and historical property. Shoulder sleeve insignia (patches) for the 4th Infantry Division were ordered and sewn on uniforms, distinctive unit insignia were ordered and issued, unit signs and vehicles were repainted and remarked, and unit colors and flags were issued or manufactured. In the meantime, the heraldic items and unit historical property belonging to the 2d Armored Division were turned in to the museum by the time of the ceremony on 15 December.
The most complicated memorandum to draft and staff was that affecting the 1st, 3d, and 24th Infantry Divisions, along with all other units in Europe and at Fort Riley. Complications arose with the 1st Armored Division's deployment to Bosnia (eventually delaying the reflagging of fourteen units in that division until February 1997) and because commanders desired ceremonies on dates different from the effective date. For historical purposes reflagging consists of activations, inactivations, and transfers. No ceremonies were required (although ceremonies for activations and inactivations are specified in Field Manual 22-5), but they did provide a sense of esprit for the reflagged organizations and for veterans of those units being returned to their traditional assignments. Because of the simultaneous actions at Forts Benning, Riley, and Stewart and in Germany and because FORSCOM and USAREUR were each responsible for their own ceremonies, problems occurred in trying to coordinate the transfer of colors, museums, and organizational property.
As an integral part of reflagging, it became obvious that not only would flags, colors, and unit historical property need to be retired, moved to new locations, or withdrawn from the depot for reissue, but four existing museums (2d Armored and 1st, 3d, and 24th Infantry Divisions) would need to physically move or change mission. The Center of Military History began planning for these changes in February 1995. While the 2d Armored Division Museum at Fort Hood was to be redesignated as the official museum for the 4th Infantry Division, it was to retain the 2d Armored Division's history as part of its mission; therefore, there was no need to retire a large mass of materiel quickly at Fort Hood. However, significant changes were to affect the 1st, 3d, and 24th Infantry Division Museums.
To ensure that the transfers occurred smoothly, Brig. Gen. John W. Mountcastle, the Chief of Military History, hosted a week long meeting in Washington during June 1995. This provided an opportunity for the personnel of the three affected museums to meet with the Center's Museum Division staff and develop effective procedures for the transition of these organizations. This strategy was formalized in a memorandum of agreement signed by the division commanders and General Mountcastle.
Under the memorandum of agreement, the 1st Infantry Division
Museum was to move from Fort Riley to Leighton Barracks in Wuerzburg, Germany.
The museum at Fort Riley was to keep some of its exhibits to support the 1st
Division's brigade, which was to remain there and add others
to support the rear brigade of the 1st Armored Division, which was to be collocated there. The 3d Infantry Division Museum was to replace the 24th Infantry Division Museum at Fort Stewart, Georgia. All museum staffs were to remain in place; only missions and artifacts were to move.
Part of the memorandum of agreement called for curators at Fort Riley to escort items to Wuerzburg. All affected curators, under the Center's direction, were to assist the 3d Infantry Division to set up the new 1st Infantry Division Museum in Wuerzburg, pack up 3d Infantry Division materiel for transfer to Fort Stewart, and issue organizational historical property to individual units. Then, the curators were to assist the Center with inventory verification and place permanent data plates on all historic Army vehicles in Germany.
The Center of Military History coordinated an Air National Guard flight to move property from Fort Riley to Germany. The team members arrived in Germany on 4 November 1995. During the first week the curators completed property accountability for the 3d Infantry Division, but during the second week Congress' inability to pass a budget resulted in the furlough of all federal employees. Although the team chief took additional annual leave and the curators from Fort Riley and Wuerzburg were retained on duty, most of the team went home, and the mission was terminated as soon as the plane from Fort Riley arrived with the 1st Infantry Division's property.
The last five months before the 1996 reflagging ceremony in Germany became increasingly hectic. The Center's Museum Division directed its clearinghouse at Anniston to separate unit colors from unit property to ensure that, at a minimum, colors would arrive in Germany on time. The remaining historical and unit property at Anniston went to Germany via a second Air National Guard flight in March 1996.
As the reflagging date neared, a number of units expressed concern that the colors being newly manufactured by the Philadelphia Support Office would not arrive in time. At the direction of General Mountcastle, Museum Division personnel reemphasized to the Support Office how critical the dates were. The Support Office at Philadelphia, however, had recently ceased to manufacture unit flags and colors on its own and transferred all such work to contractors, thus increasing the amount of time needed to manufacture such items. The Center therefore secured permission from The Institute of Heraldry to allow units to purchase colors commercially if they clearly could not otherwise arrive in time for ceremonies.
The departure of the 1st Infantry Division headquarters from Fort Riley set events in motion. The division commander's primary objective was to meet the Army's restructuring requirements by inactivating divisional units while retaining two combat-ready brigades, one to support the 1st Infantry Division and one to support the 1st Armored Division, both of which had headquarters in Germany. The commander intended to maintain the division's combat capability through the Division Warfighter Exercise in August 1995, but in order to ensure compliance with the drawdown time lines the exercise was eventually canceled. Six essential tasks were identified: inactivating specified units at Fort Riley (mostly the 1st Infantry Division base units); establishing two brigades (one each for the 1st Armored and 1st Infantry Divisions); maintaining the quality of life at Fort Riley; minimizing personnel and equipment turbulence; developing an information plan; and developing an installation table of distribution and allowances for support.
In the matter of ceremonies, the former 1st Infantry Division
units at Fort Riley found that developing a standard ceremony for all units
to follow was successful. Several variations were developed based on the size
of the unit as well as the specifics (inactivation or move of a unit, less personnel
and equipment, to Germany). Most ceremonies there were conducted sixty to ninety
days prior to the effective date, thus ensuring the presence of a sufficient
number of soldiers to participate. The standard ceremony precluded units from
trying to "out-do" each other and demonstrated to the public and local communities
that the Army had a plan and could execute it in an orderly, professional manner.
The main ceremony, that of reflagging the 2d Brigade, 1st Infantry Division,
as the 3d Brigade, 1st Armored Division, took place on 29 March 1996.
The reflagging ceremony in Germany, passing the colors of the 1st Infantry Division to the 3d Infantry Division and those of the 3d Infantry Division to the new division commander to take back to Fort Stewart, was the most elaborate. Planning began soon after the announcement was made in June 1995. The ceremony in April 1996 incorporated the history of both divisions and the participation of the German Army.
Although the 3d Infantry Division moved from Germany to Fort Stewart on 16 February 1996 to replace the 24th Infantry Division, reflagging ceremonies at Fort Stewart did not occur until late April. Unlike the ceremony in Germany, the division being reflagged- the 24th- was actually inactivated, and the ceremony reflected this.
As discussion of further drawdowns in the Army's force structure persists, the Center of Military History continues to plan for additional reflagging. Some contingencies are already in place -- plans have been approved (see Appendix E) for reflagging infantry elements in the 3d Infantry and the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions should the last elements of specified regiments be inactivated. But should the Army be reduced by another one or two divisions, more deliberate planning will have to be initiated. The Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans will no doubt take the lead in deciding the force structure, and other agencies will be called upon to recommend posts for closure. Depending on the posts remaining and the directed force structure, the Army's Chief of Staff will determine divisional designations, most likely taking into consideration the recommendations of the Center of Military History. Once the divisional designations and posts are determined, the cycle of determining the elements of those divisions can begin again. While it was possible in the 1995 plan to retain all armor and all but two infantry regiments, further drawdowns may preclude this, and reflagging will become even more difficult.
Reflagging is an emotional issue all soldiers and veterans
have favorite units for which they feel allegiance. Over the next few years
difficult decisions will have to be made about the Army's force structure and
the designations of the remaining organizations. The Center of Military History
will continue, to the best of its ability, to ensure retention of those most
worthy on the active rolls of the Army.
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