The 32D 'Red Arrow' Veteran Association

Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: Description: WW2 32nd Division insignia

History of the

32D 'Red Arrow' Infantry

Brigade (Separate)

(Mechanized) during

REFORGER ‘86

Exercise ‘Certain Sentinel’

 

 

Note: The year 2011 is the 25th anniversary of the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Brigade’s mobilization for REFORGER in 1986.

Description: Description: Description: Description: flag-thin

In 1984 the 32D ‘Red Arrow’ Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Mechanized) learned that it would conduct its annual training in Germany in 1986 to participate in the REFORGER exercise.

REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) exercises were conducted annually from 1969 until 1993. They were designed to test the ability to rapidly reinforce NATO forces in West Germany in the event of hostilities with the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War.

The Brigade’s annual training (AT) in June 1985 was the only opportunity it had for BDE-level training before it deployed for REFORGER. One of the key training events for that AT was conducting long convoys on state freeways to simulate what they would need to do in Germany on the autobahns. Some of these convoys included our slower-moving tracked vehicles, a sight that probably has not occurred on WI highways before or since, although it was a common occurrence on European highways at the time.

The 32D BDE loaded most of its equipment in CONEXs at Fort McCoy, WI, at the end of AT in the summer of 1985.

From 9-12 December 1985, the 32D BDE rail loaded its vehicles at Fort McCoy, WI, for shipment to ports at Baltimore, MD; Jacksonville, FL; and Beaumont, TX (Baltimore was the primary port).

On 2-3 January 1986, the BDE loaded the majority of its equipment aboard the USNS Antares for transport to Europe. The normal allotted time for this process was 48 hours, the BDE easily exceeded that time.

On 8-10 January 1986, the BDE’s 900 personnel advance party (a.k.a. ‘Equipment Reception Team’) conducted personnel processing at Fort McCoy. After the USNS Antares sailed, they flew to Brussels, Belgium. From there they were bused to Antwerp, Belgium, to unload the ship.

The USNS Antares docked on 13 Jan. 1986 and the Soldiers unloaded more than 1,300 pieces of equipment in less than 16 hours (the Army had planned for 24 hours). They then convoyed their equipment from Antwerp to the Grafenwöhr training area in West Germany where they would link up with the rest of the BDE.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DA-ST-86-11628t.jpeg

The USNS Antares unloading the 32D BDE’s vehicles and supplies in Antwerp, Belgium, ca. 14 Jan. ’86 for REFORGER. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

On 13 January 1986, the BDE’s main body of 4,500 Soldiers, led by BG Charles F. Sharine, arrived at Fort McCoy for personnel processing and deployment to Europe. They were airlifted from Volk Field to Ostende, Belgium, on 15 Jan. From there they transferred to U.S. C-130s and German Luftwaffe C-160s for the trip to the Grafenwöhr.

On 18 January 1986, the BDE departed Grafenwöhr for its tactical assembly areas in rural Bavaria. The weather was very bad and the roads and terrain were covered in ice.

REFORGER ’86, Exercise ‘Certain Sentinel’, lasted from 20 to 30 Jan. ‘86. Over 73,000 personnel from several countries participated. Some of the units based in Germany included VII Corps, 1ST Armored Division, 11TH Armored Cavalry Regiment, 1ST Infantry Division FWD, 4TH Canadian Mechanized Brigade, Panzer Division 12, Panzer Brigade 36, 210 and 212 Field Artillery Brigades. Units that deployed from the U.S. included the 1ST Infantry Division, 32D Infantry Brigade (WIARNG), 724TH Engineer Battalion (WIARNG), 72D Field Artillery Brigade.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DA-SC-87-04256t.jpeg

The interior of the tactical operations center of a 32D BDE unit near Tannesburg, Germany, on 22 Jan. ’86 during REFORGER. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DA-ST-87-04195t.jpeg

A Soldier plotting positions on a map in the tactical operations center of a 32D BDE unit near Tannesburg, Germany, on 22 Jan. ’86 during REFORGER. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DA-ST-87-04196t.jpeg

Soldiers securing a tarp between two M-577 tracked command post vehicles for the tactical operations center of a 32D BDE unit near Tannesburg, Germany, on 22 Jan. ’86 during REFORGER. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DA-ST-87-04197t.jpeg

A Soldier operating an RT-524A field radio set in the tactical operations center of a 32D BDE unit near Tannesburg, Germany, on 22 Jan. ’86 during REFORGER. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DA-ST-87-04198t.jpeg

BG Charles F. Scharine, Commander of the 32D BDE, conferring with his staff officers in the tactical operations center near Tannesburg, Germany, on 22 Jan. ’86 during REFORGER. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DF-ST-87-07162t.jpeg

Two M-60A1 main battle tanks during exercise REFORGER '86. It is likely that these are 32D BDE tanks seeing as the Regular Army units had M-60A3s and M-1s by this time. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

 

Description: http://www.32nd-division.org/history/REFORGER/DF-ST-87-07163t.jpeg

Three M-60A1 main battle tanks during exercise REFORGER '86. It is likely that these are 32D BDE tanks seeing as the Regular Army units had M-60A3s and M-1s by this time. Photograph from www.defenseimagery.mil.

 

The maneuver portion of the exercise was ultimately cancelled because of the weather. The ground was too soft and the heavy vehicles would have caused extensive damage to German farm fields. The majority of the exercise then focused on staff exercises. The Soldiers conducted less intensive training in the field including: live-fire assault and defense operations; familiarization training on Warsaw Pact vehicles and weapon systems; cross-training on NATO weapon systems and vehicles; forward observer training; and common task NBC training.

At the conclusion of the exercise, the Soldiers moved back to Grafenwöhr to thoroughly clean their muddy equipment before convoying to the port of Bremerhaven, Germany, to load the ship for the trip back to the U.S. The personnel were then flown back to Volk Field. The first flight landed on 31 Jan. and the last BDE personnel landed 10 days later.

In addition to being the largest National Guard unit ever to participate in a REFORGER exercise (at least up to 1986); the 32D Brigade achieved several other milestones:

1.     Successfully deployed and redeployed all personnel and organic equipment. Most units that deployed for REFORGER usually left most of their organic equipment at home station and fell in on pre-positioned equipment in Europe. The 32ND BDE was the first BDE to bring along all of its organic equipment.

2.     Exceeded the Army standards for ship unloading by eight hours (the BDE’s time was 16 hours compared to the Army standard of 24 hours) and for ship loading (the BDE’s time was 36 hours compared to the Army standard of 50 hours).

3.     BDE personnel accomplished the rail loading mission at Fort McCoy by meeting time constraints despite below zero weather and several feet of snow on the ground.

4.     Conducted operations without serious incident or injury in an adverse environment.

 

“You ask me if I’m proud? You’re damn right I’m proud. I’m proud of our esprit de corps. I’m proud of our discipline. I’m proud of the responsiveness of our soldiers – every last one of them.”

 

“The clever tactics, good soldiers and innovative leaders, particularly small unit leaders – sergeants and lieutenants – who have a good aggressive program and know the intent of the commander spelled success for the 32D Infantry Brigade during REFORGER ‘86 in much the same way it would spell success in time of war.”

Brigadier General Charles F. Sharine,

Commanding General,

32D Infantry Brigade

 

Description: Description: Description: Description: flag-thin

Back To REFORGER History of the 32D Brigade
Contact the 32D 'Red Arrow' Veteran Association Webmaster

revised 30 September 2011

since 26 May 2011