USARCENT celebrates 90 years, command takes on more responsibility
October 31, 2008
FORT GILLEM, Ga. -- Soldiers, families and civilians from U.S. Army Central will celebrate the command's birthday this week with sporting events and a birthday ball, marking 90 years of service to the nation.
"This is not only an occasion for us to celebrate, but also a time to reflect upon the importance of our past, present and future," said Lt. Gen. Jim Lovelace, USARCENT commander. "Soldiers, civilians and family members of this organization continue to serve with honor and courage."
When USARCENT, originally Third Army, was organized in 1918, World War I was ending and a strong force was needed to enforce the armistice.
Gen. John Pershing, commander of the expeditionary forces, ordered Third Army to move into Germany to disband and disarm German forces. Only 10 days after it formed, the unit, whose patch signifies Army of occupation, marched into Germany under the command of Gen. Joseph Dickman. In less than a month, Third Army's equipment, along with 280,000 Soldiers, moved 270 miles mainly by foot.
World War II brought enduring fame to the unit under the command of Lt. Gen. George Patton as Third Army tanks raced to a point further east than any other American force. Third Army participated in eight major operations during The Great War.
"The feats of our predecessors in this war were astonishing," Lovelace said. "They liberated and captured 81,522 square miles of territory."
During this time, Third Army gave new meaning to hard-charging, hard-hitting, aggressive warfare, Lovelace said.
In 2006, the Department of the Army decided that numbered Armies would be redesignated as Army service component commands and would carry names associating them with the combatant commands they support. Third Army was the first of these, becoming U.S. Army Central, to highlight its ties with Central Command.
In recent history, USARCENT orchestrated the largest modern land battle during Operation Desert Storm, and now serves as the operational Land Component Command for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.
President George W. Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom March 19, 2003, because of several international offenses by former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. With elements of their headquarters forward-deployed since September 2001, in support of OEF, USARCENT was the first major command in theatre for OIF.
As USARCENT moves forward, it is once again called to meet the needs of the times with its transformation to being full-spectrum operations capable, officials said, prepared to rapidly respond to crisis within central command's area of responsibility.
Once certified, USARCENT will provide an expeditionary war-fighting headquarters capable of conducting simultaneous offensive, defensive and stability operations.
We are going through a defining period in this command," Lovelace told the command. "It's an exciting time, and you have been part of some historic changes in the character of this organization.
"The pace has been quick, as it often is when `breaking trail' for the rest of the Army. Like the generations that came before us, we are making our mark on our command's great legacy each and every day. We look forward to sharing in the camaraderie of this 90th birthday celebration with all of you."
Birthday-week events begin with softball, volleyball and basketball tournaments Monday through Thursday and a unit run Tuesady. A golf scramble is scheduled Thursday and a birthday ball Nov. 7.
For more information, visit <a href="http://www.arcent.army.mil"target=_blank>www.arcent.army.mil</a>.