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56th Artillery Command
56th Field Artillery Brigade
56th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Brigade
56th Coast Artillery Brigade
56th Field Artillery Command SSI.svg
56th Field Artillery Command shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1942–1945
1951–1964
1970–1991
2021–present
Country United States
Branch  United States Army
Type Field Artillery
Part of United States Army Europe and Africa
Command HQ Wiesbaden Garrison, Federal Republic of Germany
Motto(s) "Quick, Reliable, Accurate"
Equipment
Engagements
Decorations
Website 56th Artillery Command

The 56th Artillery Command is a two-star command of the United States Army that was reactivated in October 2021. The unit was originally formed in 1942 with a long period of active service being 1963 through 1991 utilizing the nuclear Pershing Missile System. The command was reactivated in November 2021 with MG Stephen J. Maranian commanding the unit from its headquarters in Mainz-Kastel, near the army's existing four-star headquarters in Wiesbaden.[3][4][5]

History

Pershing II of 2nd Battalion, 9th Field Artillery

1942–1945

The 56th Coast Artillery Brigade was constituted in the Army of the United States on 14 September 1942, but not activated that day. Over six months later, it was activated at Camp Stewart, Georgia on 10 April 1943 and was redesignated the 56th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade on 28 May 1943.[6] During World War II, Headquarters Battery (HHB) saw action in Belgium and received two Belgian fourrageres for action at Antwerp and was cited for the defense of Antwerp harbor.[7] Headquarters & Headquarters Battery is entitled to permanently display the Belgian Fourragere from the spearhead of its guidon.[2] In 1945, the unit was inactivated at Camp Shanks, New York.

1951–1961

In 1951, the 56th Antiaircraft Artillery Brigade was reactivated at Camp Edwards, Massachusetts and assigned to the United States First Army.[8][9] On 5 November 1951 The 56th AAA Brigade transferred from Camp Edwards to Fort Devens, Massachusetts and was assigned to the Eastern Army Antiaircraft Command.[10][11] They were then transferred to Fort Totten, New York on 24 January 1953.[12] The unit transferred back to Fort Devens on 15 July 1956.[13] They were redesignated as the 56th Air Defense Artillery Brigade on 20 March 1958.[14] The 56th Artillery Brigade was inactivated on 24 December 1964.[15]

Moved to Coventry, Rhode Island, Oct 1964. Initially the unit controlled the 11th Artillery Group (Rhode Island) and 15th Group (Massachusetts). Starting in June 1961, the battalions were directly under the brigade. The brigade was inactivated upon move of the 24th Artillery Group to Coventry in December 1964.

HHB, 11th AAA Group (Continental) was redesignated as Headquarters & Headquarters Battery, 11th Artillery Group (Air Defense) on 20 March 1958. Transferred from Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to Rehoboth, Massachusetts, 15 May 58. Controlled 4th Battalion, 56th Artillery and 4-68 Artillery at Providence, Rhode Island. Inactivated at Rehoboth, 25 September 1960.

The 15th AAA Group (Continental) was activated at Ft. Banks, 13 July 1952. Redesignated as the 15th Artillery Group (Air Defense), 20 March 1958. Moved to Quincy, Massachusetts, 7 August 1958. Controlled Boston [3-5 Arty, 3-52 Arty, 1-57 Arty] air defense units under 56th Brigade. Inactivated at Quincy, 24 June 1961.

1963–1991

In April 1963, the 56th Artillery Group was activated in Schwäbisch Gmünd, West Germany commanded by Col. Douglas C. France, Jr. The group prepared for the deployment of the new weapons system, the Pershing 1 nuclear missile. Headquarters & Headquarters Battery (HHB) was initially stationed at Hardt Kaserne (formerly Adolf Hitler Kaserne) and moved to Bismarck Kaserne in November 1968.

The 56th Artillery Group was redesignated as the 56th Artillery Brigade on 17 August 1970. The brigade was authorized an increased level in command positions in the firing units. Platoon leaders were captains, battery commanders were majors, battalion commanders were lieutenant colonels and the brigade commander was a colonel.

1971–1991
1970–1971
1963–1970

With the split of the Artillery Branch into Field Artillery and Air Defense Artillery, the brigade was redesignated as the 56th Field Artillery Brigade on 15 March 1972.

In 1965 the 56th Artillery Group assumed the critical role of a Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) force and was required to maintain a portion of each unit at the highest level of combat readiness. These portions were to react within seconds of verified orders, and the entire command was to be fully operational within 2 hours of any alert activation. The increased requirements of the QRA mission necessitated some modifications to upgrade the Pershing missile system and at the same time caused the Army to increase the number of launchers at each battalion from four to 36.

The newly designated brigade was to command 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion, 81st Field Artillery Regiment, and 3rd Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment as Pershing firing battalions. Also subordinate to the brigade was 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment, tasked to provide defensive support to the firing units according to their security needs. A host of additional units provided support from medical to logistical, ensuring the brigade's ability to operate.

In November 1983, with the Soviets fully invested in the SS-20, and on the verge of bankruptcy, the Americans began fielding the Pershing II. By 1985 all three firing battalions were completely operational with Pershing II and the Soviet Union faced a threat they were financially unwilling to counter.[16]

On 11 January 1985 three soldiers, SSG John Leach, SGT Todd A. Zephier, and PFC Darryl L. Shirley of Battery C, 3rd Battalion, 84th Field Artillery were killed in an explosion at Camp Redleg, Heilbronn. The explosion occurred while removing a missile stage from the storage container during an assembly operation. An investigation revealed that the Kevlar rocket bottle had accumulated a triboelectric charge in the cold dry weather; as the engine was removed from the container the electrical charge began to flow and created a hot spot that ignited the propellant.[17][18] A moratorium on missile movement was enacted through late 1986 when new grounding and handling procedures were put into place.

In January 1986, there was a major reorganization; the 56th Field Artillery Brigade was redesignated the 56th Field Artillery Command and authorized a major general as its commander. 1st Battalion, 81st Field Artillery inactivated and reformed as 1st Battalion, 9th Field Artillery in Neu-Ulm. 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery inactivated and reformed as 2nd Battalion, 9th Field Artillery in Schwäbisch-Gmünd. 3rd Battalion, 84th Field Artillery inactivated and reformed as 4th Battalion, 9th Field Artillery in Heilbronn. Along with 3rd Battalion, 9th Field Artillery at Fort Sill, the four firing units were then under the 9th Field Artillery Regiment. Additionally, the 55th Maintenance Battalion redesignated as 55th Support Battalion, E Company, 55th Maintenance Battalion deactivated and reformed as the 193rd Aviation Company,[19] and the communications assets at each battery, were removed and consolidated into the 38th Signal Battalion.

Under the reorganization, the 56th Field Artillery Command would always report directly to the highest commander in Europe at the time. Therefore, during peacetime, they reported to the Commander in Chief of United States Army Europe (CINCUSAREUR), whereas, during heightened tension or war, command passed to NATO, with Allied Air Forces Central Europe as their next higher headquarters.[20]

Additionally, command levels for the field artillery batteries were increased by one grade over similar units. Platoons were commanded by a captain, and batteries by a major. Battalions continued to follow a lieutenant colonel while the command itself was led by a brigadier general and later a major general.

These actions were meant to mitigate the increased responsibilities inherent with the mission they bore.

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty[21] was ratified on 27 May 1988.[22] The firing batteries began to draw down their equipment as the missile launchers were destroyed. The Pershing first- and second-stage motors, reentry vehicles, warhead and radar section airframes were returned to Pueblo Depot Activity for elimination. On 30 June 1991, the 56th FA was inactivated,[23] and "discontinued" on 30 September 1991.[24]

1963–1991 Pershing

Commanders

  • April 1963: Colonel Douglas Carter France, Jr.
  • August 1965: Colonel Rex H. Hampton, Sr.
  • 15 July 1967: Colonel Patrick William Powers
  • November 1968: Colonel James Edward Convey, Jr.
  • September 1970: Colonel Patrick William Powers; promoted to Brig. Gen.
  • December 1972: Brigadier General Tom Judson Perkins; died 24 February 1973
  • February 1973: Colonel Richard Donald Boyle; acting commander
  • May 1973: Brigadier General Milton Eugene Key
  • January 1975: Brigadier General Robert B. Hankins
  • July 1978: Colonel Richard Donald Boyle; promoted to Brigadier General
  • July 1980: Colonel Sidney Davis; promoted to Brigadier General 8 September 1980
  • July 1982: Brigadier General William Earl Sweet
  • 1984: Brigadier General Raymond E. Haddock; promoted to Major General 4 August 1987
  • 1987: Brigadier General Roger K. Bean; promoted to Major General 24 August 1989

Decorations

In 1968 the group created the Pershing Professionals Badge to recognize individual proficiency on the Pershing missile system. It was awarded through 1979.

The Superior Unit Award was presented to the 56th Field Artillery Command and its subordinate units for service during the Pershing II fielding, 1 November 1983 through 31 December 1986.[25][26]

2021

On 12 August 2021, U.S. Army Europe and Africa announced that the 56th Artillery Group would be reactivated in October 2021 as the 56th Artillery Command. It is to be a two-star command led by MG Stephen J. Maranian and headquartered in Mainz-Kastel, near the Army's four-star headquarters in Wiesbaden.[3][5][27]

Subordinate units

April 1963

September 1970

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB)
  • 4th Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment (4-41st FAR)
  • 1st Battalion, 81st Field Artillery Regiment (1-81st FAR)
  • 3rd Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment (3-84th FAR)
  • 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment

September 1972

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB)
  • 266th Chemical Detachment
  • 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment (1-41st FAR)
  • 1st Battalion, 81st Field Artillery Regiment (1-81st FAR)
  • 3rd Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment (3-84th FAR)
  • 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment

1982

  • Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB)
  • 266th Chemical Detachment
  • 1st Battalion, 41st Field Artillery Regiment (1-41st FAR)
  • 1st Battalion, 81st Field Artillery Regiment (1-81st FAR)
  • 3rd Battalion, 84th Field Artillery Regiment (3-84th FAR)
  • 2nd Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment
  • 55th Maintenance Battalion

May 1991[28]

January 2022

In popular culture

  • Anderson, Wes (director) (1998). "Rushmore".  The character is wearing the inverted insignia of the 56th Field Artillery Command.
  • Krokus (1986). "Change of Address".  The gatefold photo has four of the band members wearing the insignia of the 56th Field Artillery Command.
  • "Deutschland 83". 2015.  A fictionalized of a Stasi agent who infiltrates the West German command during the fielding of Pershing II in 1983. The commander of the 56th Field Artillery Command is Maj. Gen. Arnold Jackson, shown wearing the unit insignia. In real life this would have been Brig. Gen. William Earl Sweet.

Heraldry

Shoulder sleeve insignia

The shoulder sleeve insignia was authorized for wear by all subordinate units.

Description: On a disc 3 inches (76 mm) in diameter, with a 18 inch (3 mm) white border a scarlet disc centered on a blue background and surmounted at center by a vertical black missile silhouette outlined in white and issuing to base a white-edged scarlet flame and white smoke cloud, the missile flanked by two diagonal yellow lightning flashes issuing from either side of the nose cone. Attached immediately above the disc, an arc tab 2 38 inches (60 mm) in length and 1116 inch (17 mm) in height consisting of a dark green background inscribed "Pershing" in scarlet letters 516 inch (8 mm) in height, with a 18 inch (3 mm) scarlet border.

Symbolism: Scarlet and gold (yellow) are the colors used for field artillery; blue denotes the assigned infantry support. The destructive power and target capability of the Pershing missile are suggested by the red disc at center and the upright missile signifies the readiness of the unit. The lightning flashes refer to the ability of the missile team to act and strike quickly in event of need.

Background: The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for the 56th Artillery Brigade on 9 June 1971 The Pershing tab was authorized for wear effective 18 September 1970. It was redesignated for the 56th Field Artillery Brigade on 7 April 1972. The insignia was redesignated effective 17 January 1986 for the 56th Field Artillery Command.[29]

Previous insignia: From 1963 to 1970, the authorized shoulder sleeve insignia was the emblem of the Seventh United States Army. From 1970 to 1971, the Pershing tab was worn with the Seventh Army insignia.

Distinctive unit insignia

The distinctive unit insignia (DUI) was authorized for wear only for Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB).

1972

Description: A gold color metal and enamel device 1 316 inches (30 mm) in height overall consisting of a scarlet background with a trilobated cloud at the top bearing two black crossed cannons behind a white domed tower with black archway, (as depicted on the coat of arms of the city of Antwerp, Belgium) on a green base, surmounted overall by a vertical gold Pershing missile; all above a semi-circular gold scroll inscribed "Quick Reliable Accurate" in black letters.

Symbolism: Scarlet and yellow (gold) are the colors used for Field Artillery. The trilobated cloud symbolizes the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 56th Field Artillery Brigade's Northern France, Central Europe and Rhineland Campaigns during World War II. The crossed cannons with the Antwerp Tower allude to the Headquarters Battery's two Belgian Army Order of the Day Citations, the Belgian Fourragere for action at Antwerp and the Defense of Antwerp Harbor. Red and green are the colors of the Belgian Fourragere. The Pershing missile alludes to the unique mission of the unit as a participant in the Army's first nuclear strike force with missiles on constant alert (QRA).

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was originally approved for the 56th Field Artillery Brigade on 11 April 1972. It was redesignated effective 17 January 1986 for the 56th Field Artillery Command.[30]

Note: The older DUI was worn from 1967 to 1972.

1968

Description: A gold colored metal and enamel device 1 316 inches (30 mm) in height overall, vesica on top and ovaloid in base consisting of a gold missile with billowing white exhaust behind and between two vertical gold cannon firing black bomb bursts on a red background. All arched by a gold nebuly and encircled in base by a gold scroll bearing the inscription "QUICK, RELIABLE, ACCURATE" in black letters.

Symbolism: Scarlet is the color used for Artillery. The cannon barrels symbolize the basic mission of the organization. The missile alludes to the "Pershing Missile" and to the unique mission of the unit as a participant in the Army's first Nuclear Strike Force with missiles on constant alert (QRA).

Background: The distinctive unit insignia was approved on 24 September 1968. It was rescinded on 14 February 1975.[31]

References

  1. History Card 1991, General Orders 24. Department of the Army. 10 December 1947.
  2. 2.0 2.1 History Card 1991, General Orders 43. Department of the Army. 19 December 1950.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Blast from the past: Cold War artillery command in Germany resurrected and restructured" (in en). https://www.stripes.com/branches/army/2021-08-12/two-star-general-commander-new-artillery-unit-germany-2530791.html. 
  4. Eversden, Andrew (4 November 2021). "Army reactivates theater artillery command amid Russian build-up near Ukraine". https://breakingdefense.com/2021/11/army-reactivates-theater-artillery-command-amid-russian-build-up-near-ukraine/. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 John Gordon IV, John Matsumura, RAND corporation (2021) Army Theater Fires Command: Integration and Control of Very Long-Range Army Fires RR-A809-1
  6. History Card 1991, General Orders 51. Department of the Army. 31 May 1943.
  7. For further details, see U.S. Army, "Antiaircraft Journal," Vol 88.
  8. History Card 1991, AGAO-I 322. Gen Res. 21 January 1951.
  9. History Card 1991, General Orders 73. HQ, First Army. 31 May 1951.
  10. History Card 1991, MO No. 95. HQ, First Army, AHFKC(S) 370.5. 27 September 1951.
  11. History Card 1991, General Orders 27. HQ, Eastern Army Antiaircraft Command. 5 November 1951.
  12. History Card 1991, General Orders 95. First Army. 22 July 1953.
  13. History Card 1991, General Orders 52. First Army. 19 July 1956.
  14. History Card 1991, General Orders 36. First US Army. 28 March 1958.
  15. History Card 1991, General Orders 229. US Army Air Defense Command. 23 December 1964.
  16. Martin, Robert D.. "The Pershing Missile System and the Cold War". Cold War Museum. http://www.coldwar.org/articles/50s/pershing_missiles.asp. 
  17. Knaur, James A. (August 1986) (PDF). Technical Investigation of 11 January 1985: Pershing II Motor Fire. Defense Technical Information Center. http://handle.dtic.mil/100.2/ADP005343. 
  18. Davenas, Alain; Rat, Roger (July–August 2002). "Sensitivity of Solid Rocket Motors to Electrostatic Discharge: History and Futures" (PDF). https://www.scribd.com/doc/299945325. 
  19. "Army Superior Unit Award" (PDF). US Army. 30 December 1992. p. 10. General Orders 34. http://www.apd.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/go9234.pdf. 
  20. "Pershing Keeps Soviet Bear at Bay". 56th Field Artillery Command. 1986–1987. https://www.scribd.com/doc/299951391. 
  21. "Treaty Between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the Elimination of Their Intermediate-range and Shorter-range Missiles (INF Treaty)". United States Department of State. 8 December 1987. https://2009-2017.state.gov/t/avc/trty/102360.htm. 
  22. "The Pershing Weapon System and Its Elimination". United States Army. http://history.redstone.army.mil/miss-pershing.html. 
  23. History Card 1991, PO 132-8. USAREUR and Seventh Army. 21 September 1990.
  24. History Card 1991, PO 147-6. USAREUR and Seventh Army. 17 October 1990.
  25. "Army Superior Unit Award" (PDF). Department of the Army. 1 April 1987. General Orders 9. http://www.apd.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/go8709.pdf. 
  26. "Army Superior Unit Award". Department of the Army. 1 July 1987. General Orders Number 30. http://www.apd.army.mil/epubs/DR_pubs/DR_a/pdf/web/go8730.pdf. 
  27. Andrew Eversden (4 Nov 2021) Army reactivates theater artillery command amid Russian build-up near Ukraine European Theater Fires Command
  28. "Plotting Pershing on the Map". The Pershing Cable. 56th Field Artillery Command. 1986–1987. https://www.scribd.com/doc/299951391. 
  29. "56th Field Artillery Command: Shoulder Sleeve Insignia". United States Army Institute of Heraldry. https://tioh.army.mil/Catalog/Heraldry.aspx?HeraldryId=6053&CategoryId=3448.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  30. "56th Field Artillery Command: Distinctive Unit Insignia". United States Army Institute of Heraldry. https://tioh.army.mil/Catalog/Heraldry.aspx?HeraldryId=6054&CategoryId=3448.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  31. "56th Field Artillery Group: Distinctive Unit Insignia". United States Army Institute of Heraldry. https://tioh.army.mil/Catalog/Heraldry.aspx?HeraldryId=16211&CategoryId=9374.   This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.

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Bibliography

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