A Look at the 24th Division After Korea
The On Again-Off Again Existence of the 24th for the Last 50 Years. by Thomas M. Appler, Life Member, 24th S&T Bn, HQ Co.; 333 FA Bn, 'G' Btry, 64-66
Germany and then De-Activation
The 24th Infantry Division left Korea when the United States reduced and realigned its divisions in the Far East in 1957. Eventually, it replaced the 11th Airborne Division in Germany.
While in Germany, in addition to its standard infantry mission, the 24th fielded airborne units for about two years.
The Division remained in Germany until 1969 when it redeployed to Fort Riley, Kansas, as part of the REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany). In April 1970 the "Victory Division" was inactivated at Fort Riley.
Re-Activation at Ft. Stewart, Georgia
Five years later, in September 1975, the 24th was reactivated at Fort Stewart, Georgia, as part of the program to build a sixteen-division force. Because the Regular Army could not field a full division at Fort Stewart, the 24th had the 48th Infantry Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard assigned to it as a round-out unit. Targeted for a NATO role, the division was reorganized as a mechanized infantry unit in 1979.
The 24th in Kuwait and Iraq
When the United Nations decided to halt aggression in Kuwait in 1990, the 24th was chosen for deployment to Southwest Asia. Serving in the Defense of Saudi Arabia and Liberation, and Defense of Kuwait campaigns, the Division helped to arrest the Iraqi war machine.
In the XVIII Corps' mission of envelopment, the 24th Infantry Division had the central role of blocking the Euphrates River valley to prevent the escape north of Iraqi forces in Kuwait. It then attacked east in coordination with VII Corps to defeat the armor-heavy divisions of the Republican Guard Forces Command.
Maj. Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey's Victory Division came to the theater better prepared for combat in the desert than any other in Army Central Command.
Designated a Rapid Deployment Force division a decade earlier, the 24th combined the usual mechanized infantry division components-an aviation brigade and three ground maneuver brigades, plus combat support units-with extensive desert training and desert-oriented medical and water purification equipment.
When the attack began, the 24th was as large as a World War I division, with 25,000 soldiers in thirty-four battalions. Its 241 Abrams tanks and 221 Bradley fighting vehicles provided the necessary armor punch to penetrate the Iraqi Republican Guard divisions. But at the same time, with 94 helicopters, and over 6,500 wheeled and 1,300 other tracked vehicles-including 72 self-propelled artillery pieces and 9 multiple rocket launchers, the division still was highly mobile and had ample firepower.
Battalions of the 24th Infantry Division moved in 'battle box' formation in their movement across the line of departure, and when not engaging enemy forces. This formation consisted of: a cavalry troop screening five to ten miles to the front, and four companies, or multi-platoon task forces, dispersed to form corner positions with the heavier units of the battalion, whether tanks or Bradleys, occupying one or both of the front corners.
Company and smaller units advanced outside the box to provide flank security. Vehicles carrying ammunition, fuel, and needed water were placed inside the box.
The box formation advanced in jumps of about 40 miles at a time. It covered a front of about four to five miles and extended about 15 to 20 miles front to rear.
The 24th was reorganized and returned to the United States in the spring of 1991. All of its elements were in the Regular Army--two brigades at Fort Stewart, and one brigade at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In the fall of 1994 Iraq again menaced the Kuwaiti border, and two brigades from the division returned to Southwest Asia.
Inactivated in February 1996
As part of the Army's reduction to a ten-division force, the 24th Infantry Division was inactivated on 15 February 1996. Three Army divisions were re-flagged as the Army restructured from 12 to 10 active divisions. The 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was redesignated as the 4th Infantry Div., and the 24th Inf. Div. was re-designated as the 3rd Inf. Div. The 3rd Inf. Div., stationed in Germany, was redesignated as the 1st Inf. Div. The re-designations occurred during fiscal 1996.
The Army's restructuring plan was announced in December 1994. It called for the inactivation of the headquarters and division support units of the 1st Inf. Div. at Fort Riley, Kan., and the 4th Inf. Div. at Fort Carson, Colo.
The re-designation plan was to ensure that two of the Army's most famous and decorated divisions remain in the active force. The plan designating the divisions to remain was developed by the U.S. Army Center of Military History, which maintains records of Army unit lineage and honors. The center prepared an order-of-precedence list based on unit age, campaign participation, and awards and decorations. Units were then rank-ordered by category, providing a framework for the Army leadership to make its decision.
Reactivated Once Again
On June 5, 1999, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) was once again activated, this time at Fort Riley, Kansas. The "Victory Division" consisted of an active component headquarters at Fort Riley, Kansas, and three enhanced separate brigades: the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade at Clinton, North Carolina, the 218th Heavy Separate Brigade at Columbia, South Carolina, and the 48th Separate Infantry Brigade in Macon, Georgia. Thus the 24th Infantry Division became the U.S. Army's first integrated active duty National Guard division, consisting of three National Guard brigades.
Early in 1999, the Department of the Army announced the creation of two active component/ National Guard integrated divisions - the 24th Infantry Division, Fort Riley, KS, and the 7th Infantry Division Fort Carson, Colorado. These organizations combined both active-duty and reservecomponent soldiers in one military headquarters. Their division headquarters were commanded by active component major generals.
The 24th Infantry Division (Mech) was inactivated on 1 Aug. 2006 at Fort Riley, Kansas.
Portions excerpted from www.globalsecurity.org
The Taro Leaf, Vol 61(3&4) Summer-Fall 20007, pg. 45-46.
A Look at the 24th Division after Korea, 2, Appler's tabular presentation.