MARIETTA, Ga. — A Georgia Army National Guard unit is heading to the Middle East to document history on behalf of the U.S. Army.
The Marietta-based 161st Military History Detachment held a ceremony Jan. 7 as the unit prepared to depart for a mobilization to the U.S. Army Central Command area of responsibility.
Their mission will be to collect primary source material necessary for historians to write the Army’s official history of operations in the area. Their collection portfolio would include documents, oral interviews, photographs and physical artifacts.
“After months of dedicated training, I have complete confidence in this team,” said Capt. Richard Hughes, commander, 161 Military History Detachment. “I am genuinely excited to see what we can accomplish.”
The 161st completed roughly four months of premobilization training to prepare for the approximately 9-month deployment to locations throughout Southwest Asia.
U.S. Army Central Command’s area of responsibility spans over 4 million square miles. It is populated by more than 560 million people from 25 ethnic groups, speaking 20 languages with hundreds of dialects and multiple religions that span national borders.
To prepare for this mission, the detachment completed premobilization training, a military history detachment course, a two-week historian course at Fort McNair and a week of training at Fort McNair and the Pentagon.
Additionally, the MHD completed a three-week validation exercise in Japan, collecting historical information on the 7th Infantry Division’s participation in Exercise Yama Sakura 85.
“As we set out on this deployment, we'll carry the valuable lessons from our training with us,” said Hughes. “We are fully prepared to document and preserve the history of the United States Army.”
The U.S. Army created the first military history teams during World War II to capture historical information about combat operations in European and Pacific theaters. Military history detachments have deployed in all successive wars to preserve the Army’s official history for study by future Soldiers, policymakers and the American people.
In January 2015, the 161st MHD mobilized to Kuwait to serve as the first MHD to support Operation Inherent Resolve.
The 161st mobilized again in December 2018 to Europe as the Army’s second MHD dedicated to Operation Atlantic Resolve. For nine months, the unit conducted operations in Germany, Poland and Georgia. They compiled a digital archive of more than 50 gigabytes of source material and over 300 oral interviews to aid future historians in writing the Army’s official history of Atlantic Resolve.
The 161st Military History Detachment organized as an element of the Georgia Army National Guard’s 78th Troop Command in September 2011. The unit attained federal recognition Nov. 22, 2011, at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta. The MHD is aligned under the 473rd Theater Public Affairs Support Element.
“It’s a huge mission, but I’m confident in each of their skills and their teamwork,” said Lt. Col. Jena Hutchison, commander, 473rd Theater Public Affairs Support Element. “I look forward to welcoming this team home after their successful deployment.”