18th Fires Brigade

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18th Fires Brigade
18thfabde.jpg
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1997-present
Country United States
Branch Army
Type General support / reinforcing field artillery
Size Brigade
Part of 82nd Airborne Division
Garrison/HQ Fort Bragg, NC
Nickname The Steel Brigade
Motto "Tough, Proud, Disciplined"
Equipment

M777A2 Howitzer

HIMARS
Engagements

War in Afghanistan

Iraq Campaign
Commanders
Current
commander
COL Stephen G. Smith
Insignia
Distinctive unit insignia 18FiresBdeDUI.jpg
Beret flash 18 FA Bde flash.svg

The 18th Fires Brigade is the fires brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division. It is based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

Role and structure[edit]

18th Fires Brigade plans, synchronizes and employs joint and combined fires in support of forced entry operations, designated division or combined joint task forces and on order integrates attached ground and air maneuver forces in order to conduct full spectrum operations.

A tactical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) battery will be added to the brigade in the future.

Operational history[edit]

The 18th Fires Brigade has served in multiple capacities over the past decade in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as the primary 155mm howitzer and HIMARS identity in the War in Afghanistan. The brigade was the only airborne field artillery brigade in the United States Army with 1st Battalion (Airborne), 321st Field Artillery Regiment providing the majority of the support for the 18th Fires Brigade's airborne mission.

During the 1990s the Brigade had a single 155mm battery (Battery C, 5th Battalion, 8th Field Artillery) assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, in support of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). This made for a healthy rivalry with the other elements of the Brigade that were assigned in support of the 82d Airborne Division. It allowed for the entire Brigade to train together at both Fort Campbell and Fort Bragg.

1st Battalion (Airborne), 321st Field Artillery Regiment maintained a full capacity to provide 155mm howitzer fires anywhere in the world within 18 hours in support of the 82d Airborne Division and while supporting other global responsibilities. The unit had the unique ability to employ 155mm howitzer platforms through a "Howitzer Heavy Drop Package" capability which essentially allowed for the weapon system to be dropped from an aircraft while its paratroopers would then place the weapon into action. 1st Battalion (Airborne), 321st Field Artillery Regiment served as the United States Army's primary 155mm howitzer response in the Global War on Terrorism. An inactivation ceremony was held for the unit at Fort Bragg on 14 March 2014.[1]

3d Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment maintains a limited airborne ability. During 2008 while serving as the General Support Artillery unit in Operation Enduring Freedom 8–9, 3rd Section, Battery C, 3d Battalion, 321st Field Artillery Regiment became the first United States Army unit to fire the GPS Guided XM982 Excalibur Munition in support of combat operations while serving in the volatile Kunar Province while supporting the 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment [2] of the 173d Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

3d Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment (HIMARS) has served in the capacity to support various United States Army and other agencies with accurate and effective field artillery rocket fires.

According to the Institute of Heraldry, "The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved for the 18th Field Artillery Brigade on 29 May 1979. It was amended to include the airborne tab, add metric measurements and revise the description on 21 October 1992. It was again amended to change the color of the airborne tab on 5 February 2003. The insignia was redesignated for the 18th Fires Brigade and amended to delete the airborne tab on 22 March 2007."[6]

As of August 2009, the 18th Fires Brigade now dons the "All American" patch of the 82d Airborne Division. The 18th Fires Brigade became a general support field artillery brigade in July 2008 and falls under control of the 82d Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.[7]

Future[edit]

An article in the Fayetteville Observer dated March 23, 2014 covered the inactivation of the brigade's 1st Battalion (Airborne), 321st FA Regiment and noted the coming inactivation the 2d Battalion in the 4th BCT, 82d Airborne Division. The article added that the brigade's 3d Battalion "will undergo a different transformation as that unit shifts from howitzers to the HIMARS weapons system."[3]

See also[edit]

References[edit]