Ten years ago, 3rd Infantry Division Artillery was inactivated as the Army transitioned to a modular force. One year ago, the 42nd Fires Brigade was activated at Fort Stewart.
Last Friday, the 42ndFires Brigade was inactivated and the 3rd ID’s “DIVARTY” was reactivated during a formal ceremony at Marne Garden.
With 3rd ID and Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield Commander Maj. Gen. Mike Murray presiding, two back-to-back ceremonies began the morning’s program. First, Col. John O’Grady and Command Sgt. Maj. Delmer Traylor cased their old unit colors for the 42nd Fires Brigade and then uncased their new unit colors for 3rdID Artillery.
“Exactly one year ago today, we uncased the colors of the 42nd Fires Brigade,” Murray said. “I have to admit I’m not sorry to case the colors of the 42nd Fires Brigade a year later. The brigade, at that time, had 15 soldiers assigned and no equipment.
“Over the past year, it has grown to over 200 soldiers on a very progressive training flight path … In fact, the brigade just returned from the National Training Center (in Fort Irwin, California) last month where they supported the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team with synchronizing fires.”
Murray said re-instituting DIVARTY was not something unique to the Marne Division, but that all 10 active-duty Army divisions are doing the same. He said the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg had just reactivated its division artillery last Thursday, and the Marne Division is the sixth division to do so. Field artillery leaders and soldiers now will experience more synchronized, standardized and better force training, he said.
He noted that before DIVARTY was inactivated in 2004, it helped the Marne Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom-1 in 2003 by sending a volley of 13,943 artillery rounds and 794 MRS rockets. The 21-day combat exercise, now called “Thunder Run,” was a success because of fire support provided by DIVARTY, the major general said.
Murray recognized retired DIVARTY commanders who came to Friday’s ceremony, including the commander of 3rdID’s DIVARTY during “Thunder Run,” Col. Thomas G. Torrance. O’Grady recognized former DIVARTY leadership attending as well as other special guests.
“I’m often asked — mostly by people who’ve never served in an Army with a DIVARTY — ‘What is DIVARTY?’” O’Grady said. “Simply put, DIVARTY is about supporting the maneuver commanders. It really is that simple. Everything we do works toward that end … It’s a sacred trust.”
After the ceremony, O’Grady told news media that he didn’t anticipate DIVARTY’s reactivation when he assumed command of the 42ndFires Brigade. Then, about six months ago, he said, Army leaders started discussing a return to the division-artillery concept, and he was happy they did.
One of the key roles DIVARTY now plays in the Marne Division mission is ensuring standardized training and certification of the 3rdID’s artillerymen, he said.
O’Grady said DIVARTY’s unit strength will increase some over the fires-brigade’s, but its number will increase exponentially over the next few months.
“When we get the three artillery battalions (from the combat brigades) attached to us, that’s going to be nearly a 10-fold increase,” he said. “But that’s a two or three months’ process … (In a few months), we’ll conduct a major live-five exercise.”
Pfc. Kiara Cox, who works in DIVARTY’s S-1, said she was excited about the change, though unsure about what to expect. With only four months at Fort Stewart, she said she’s heard about DIVARTY since she got here. Now, she’s about to find out what it is and her role in it.
Maj. Dereck Baird, the brigade S-3, said he was a “young, fresh lieutenant” when he last served in a DIVARTY as a fire-support officer and fire-direction center officer. He said part of DIVARTY’s train-up program includes leadership development. Division-artillery officers and noncommissioned officers will learn what it means to be an artilleryman, Baird said, and new, standardized training will help restore some of the fire-support skills lost under the modular system.