'Patton's Own' Third U.S. Army: 'Always First': Versatile, Ready Warfighting Command

By Mikolashek, Paul T. | Army, October 2002 | Go to article overview

'Patton's Own' Third U.S. Army: 'Always First': Versatile, Ready Warfighting Command


Mikolashek, Paul T., Army


`Patton's Own' Third U.S. Army: 'Always first'

The first war of the 21st century began on September 11, 2001. The Third U.S. Army, as the Army service component at U.S. Central Command, was deployed to one of the most volatile regions of the world to assume control of and synchronize land operations in Afghanistan. The soldiers of Third U.S. Army once again performed magnificently in a conflict far different from anything anyone had imagined.

On September 11, Third U.S. Army/U.S. Army Forces Central Command (USARCENT) was the only army-level headquarters in our force structure manned and ready to provide the commander, Central Command, with a fully deployable, warfighting command and control headquarters anywhere in his area of responsibility. Third U.S. Army/USARCENT is capable of commanding ground combat forces, operating as a coalition/joint task force and as a coalition/joint land component command headquarters. We provide a robust presence with Coalition/Joint Land Component-- Kuwait (Forward) Headquarters in Kuwait; three forward support headquarters in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar; and brigade prepositioned equipment sets in Kuwait and Qatar. The soldiers under Third U.S. Army had been fully engaged in a comprehensive theater security cooperation program throughout the 25-nation Central Command area of responsibility. This effort and involvement would pay great dividends when the events of September 11 triggered a series of responses that used our forward presence to the nation's advantage.

Even as the global war on terrorism was beginning, Third U.S. Army simultaneously prepared to lead coalition forces in echelon-above-corps land operations as the land component command of the Central Command exercise Bright Star in Egypt. Third U.S. Army trained and coordinated the efforts of a highly diverse coalition headquarters of more than 12 different countries. Our leadership and participation in this important exercise communicated our national commitment to regional stability and built cooperation among the participating national contingents. Combining the unique talents of the active Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers into one team, Bright Star once again demonstrated the U.S. Army's ability to operate in a complex coalition environment. Just as important, we demonstrated our nation's ability to show commitment and resolve to a key regional ally even while planning and fighting the opening stages of the global war on terrorism.

The contributions by the soldiers of Third U.S. Army to the success thus far in the global war on terrorism are truly remarkable. More than 27,000 U.S. and coalition soldiers came together to conduct sustained land combat in Afghanistan, orchestrated, controlled and supported by the soldiers of Third U.S. Army. These soldiers proved the Army tenets of depth, agility, initiative, synchronization and versatility repeatedly in this history-making conflict in Afghanistan. From November 2001 to May 2002, Third U.S. Army controlled forces from 20 coalition partners, U.S. active, Reserve, National Guard soldiers and conventional and unconventional forces, Marines, SEALS and airmen in a unique assemblage of American military capability. Third U.S. Army and coalition soldiers simultaneously conducted the full range of military operations and took on unforeseen tasks and unanticipated roles.

Since the inception of unified operations, this was the first official use of a coalition and joint force land component command and the first time a unified commander conducted war with all four functional component commands. The commander, Central Command, designated Third U.S. Army as a coalition forces and joint land component command (CFLCC) in November 2001. Shortly after returning from Bright Star, the headquarters deployed to Camp Doha, Kuwait, and assumed responsibility for all land operations in Afghanistan. The U.S. Army deployed the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) Headquarters to Karshi Khanabad, Uzbekistan and designated it as CFLCC forward headquarters. …

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