Rhode Island Army National Guard

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Headquarters, State Area Command
Rhode Island Army National Guard
RI ArmyNG SAC Insignia.gif
Rhode Island STARC Shoulder Sleeve insignia
Country United States
Allegiance Rhode Island
Branch Army National Guard
Type ARNG Headquarters Command
Part of Rhode Island National Guard
Garrison/HQ 645 New London Ave, Cranston, RI 02920
Commanders
Current
commander
MG Kevin R. McBride

The Rhode Island Army National Guard (RIARNG) is the land force militia for the U.S. State of Rhode Island. It was established under Title 10 and Title 32 of the United States Code[1][2] and operates under the command of the state governor. The National Guard is the only United States military force empowered to function under arms in a state status, so they may be called up for active duty by the governor to help respond to domestic emergencies and disasters, such as those caused by hurricanes, floods, or civil unrest.

With the consent of the governor, members or units of the Rhode Island Army National Guard may be appointed, temporarily or indefinitely, to be federally recognized armed force members, in the active or inactive service of the United States. If federally recognized, the member or unit becomes part of the Army National Guard of the United States,[3][4][5] which is a reserve component of the United States Army. Army National Guard of the United States units or members may be called up for federal active duty in times of Congressionally sanctioned war or national emergency.

The President may also call up members and units of the Rhode Island Army National Guard, with the consent of the state governor, to repel invasion, suppress rebellion, or execute federal laws if the United States or any of its states or territories are invaded or is in danger of invasion by a foreign nation, or if there's a rebellion or danger of a rebellion against the authority of the federal government, or if the President is unable with the regular armed forces to execute the laws of the United States. Because both state Army National Guard and the Army National Guard of the United States relatively go hand-in-hand, they are both usually referred to as just Army National Guard.

The Rhode Island Army National Guard is a component of the United States Army and the United States National Guard and are maintained by the National Guard Bureau. Members and units are trained and equipped as part of the United States Army. The same ranks and insignia are used and National Guardsmen are eligible to receive all United States military awards in addition to state awards.

History[edit]

Colonial Era[edit]

Note - Most of the information in this section is taken from Civil and Military List of Rhode Island, 1647-1800 by Joseph Jencks Smith published in 1900.

The Rhode Island National Guard traces it origins to the earliest known colonial defensive force which was formed on May 13, 1638 and called the "Traine Band", in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The new force was founded as, “Freemen as a militia subject to call and expected to perform certain military duties in the protection of the people.”[6]

During the Colonial era, the organization of the Rhode Island Militia was fairly simple. Each town had at least one militia company commanded by a captain or a lieutenant. In May 1673 future governor John Cranston was appointed "captain in chief of the Colony Military Force". In 1675 Cranston was promoted to major.

In 1683 the town companies were organized into two regiments - the Regiment of the Islands (i.e. Newport, Portsmouth, Jamestown and New Shoreham) and the Regiment of the Main (which covered the towns on the mainland of the colony). Each regiment originally was commanded by a major and the two majors presumably reported directly to the governor.

In 1714 the Militia of the Island was designated the 1st Regiment and the Militia of the Main Land was designated the 2nd Regiment. The 1st Regiment consisted of six companies and the 2nd Regiment had nine companies. The number of companies in each town varied with its population with Newport and Providence having three apiece. In 1719 the rank of the regimental commanders was increased to colonel.

In 1731, a regiment was formed for each of the three then existing counties - Newport, Providence and Kings which were designed the 1st, 2nd and 3d regiments respectively. The Newport County regiment had six companies, Providence County had 13 companies and Kings County had 9 companies.

American Revolution[edit]

The Rhode Island Militia undertook its first military actions against England on July 19, 1769 when they sunk the British schooner HMS Liberty in Newport, Rhode Island. Three years later, on the night of June 10, 1772, now under Captain Abraham Whipple's command, the militia seized and burned the British schooner HMS Gaspée in Narragansett Bay. On April 22, 1775, following the Battles of Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts, the Rhode Island General Assembly created a 1,500 man "Army of Observation" under the command of Brigadier General Nathanael Greene and sent them to Boston to serve in the new Continental Army under General George Washington. Major General James Mitchell Varnum was also involved in the war effort. In July 1777, Captain William Barton, with a hand-picked force, kidnapped British General Richard Prescott from Newport, Rhode Island and 3,000 enemy soldiers, in order to have someone high enough to swap to get captured American General Charles Lee back from the British.

Over twenty Rhode Island units had fought for independence including the First Rhode Island Continentals who stood at Yorktown for the surrender of British General Cornwallis. After the war, the militia reorganized into five brigades: the Bristol County, the Kent County, the Newport County, the Providence County, and the Washington County Brigades.

Post Revolution[edit]

Several militia units were mobilized to defend Rhode Island against possible British attack during the War of 1812.

American Civil War[edit]

With the outbreak of the Civil War in April 1861, Rhode Island Militia units formed the ten line companies of the 1st Rhode Island Detached Milita Regiment under the command of Colonel Ambrose Burnside. Additionally, the Providence Marine Corps of Artillery was mobilized as the 1st Rhode Island Battery. The 1st Rhode Island fought at the Battle of Bull Run, under command of Major Joseph Pope Balch who succeeded to command after Burnside was promoted to brigadier general. The 1st Rhode Island discharged, along with the 1st Battery, when its 90 enlistment expired on August 2, 1861.

Post Civil War[edit]

After the Civil War, the RI Militia underwent a major re-organization which organized the units into a brigade consisting of two Infantry Regiments, a separate Infantry battalion, an Artillery battalion and a squadron of Cavalry. Annual training was a six day period initially at Oakland Beach in Warwick and later moved to Quonset Point in North Kingstown after a purpose built camp for the Rhode Island Militia was developed there.

During the Spanish–American War, a regiment consisting of three battalions of four companies each was mobilized and called the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. In addition to the 1st RIVI, two artillery batteries were mobilized. None of these units were sent overseas.

Militia Act of 1903[edit]

The greatest turning point in the history of the Rhode Island National Militia, and all other state militias, was the passage of the Militia Act of 1903. This act, also known as the Dick Act, was passed with the support of Secretary of War Elihu Root, who sought to reform the United States Army. The key provision of the Dick Act was that state militia forces would receive federal funding for paying their members as well providing equipment in exchange for adhering the Federal standards of training and organization. State militia forces adhering to Federal standards were called the National Guard to distinguish them from more traditional militia forces.

The Rhode Island National Guard, in its modern form, was created in 1907. The two Infantry regiments of the Brigade of Rhode Island Militia were re-organized as Coast Artillery companies in order to provide a trained reserve of soldiers trained to man the five coast defense forts in Rhode Island. Other units were a Cavalry squadron and a Light Artillery Battery.

A few of the chartered units of the Rhode Island Militia chose not to convert to National Guard units. This was mostly because they would be denied the privilege of electing their own officers. These units included the Artillery Company of Newport, Bristol Train of Artillery and the Kentish Guards. These units, along with several others, today comprise the Historic Military Commands of the Rhode Island Militia.

The position of commanding general of the militia was combined with that of the state adjutant general so the position of adjutant general was transformed from having only administrative responsibilities to having command authority over the units of the National Guard.

Mexican Intervention and First World War[edit]

In 1916, Light Battery "A", Rhode Island Field Artillery, was called into federal service on June 19, 1916 for duty with General John J. Pershing to fight against Poncho Villa during the Mexican Expedition. The following year, Battery "A", Rhode Island Field Artillery, expanded to form the 1st Battalion, 103d Field Artillery, an element of the 26th "Yankee" Division during World War I.

The coast artillery companies were also mobilized in 1917 and were used to garrison Rhode Island's coast defense forts for the duration of the war.

Most Rhode Island units were demobilized in December 1918 following the signing of the Armistice in Germany in November.

Second World War[edit]

During World War II, the majority of the Rhode Island National Guard units belonged to the 43rd Infantry Division under General Douglas MacArthur for service in the Southwest Pacific, fighting in the New Guinea, Northern Solomons, and Luzon campaigns.

Korean War[edit]

During the Korean War, the Rhode Island National Guard had units serving with the 43rd Infantry Division in Germany and the 705th Anti Aircraft Artillery Battalion on the island of Okinawa.

Vietnam[edit]

During the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the Rhode Island National Guard had two units called to Federal service. The 107th Signal Company was activated on May 13, 1968 and served in the Republic of Vietnam until October 1969. The 115th Military Police Company was activated for duty at West Point, NY until December 1969. During this mobilization, individual soldiers from the 115th MP Company were "levied" and sent to serve in Vietnam to replace casualties.

Post Vietnam[edit]

The Great Blizzard of 1978, which occurred on February 6, 1978, caused the largest mobilization of Rhode Island Guard units since the Korean War. Guardsmen assisted stranded motorists as well as in snow removal and providing emergency transportation.

The 103rd Field Artillery Brigade was formed within the RI ARNG in 1979, and in 1984-85, consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 103rd Field Artillery Regiment.[7]

Gulf War[edit]

During Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm the Rhode Island National Guard had four units mobilized for duty. The 143rd Airlift Wing, out of Quonset Point, flew military airlift mission from the U.S. into Europe transporting passengers and cargo. The 118th Military Police Battalion conducted Enemy Prisoner of War detainee operations, the 119th Military Police Company oversaw three POW camps, and the 115th Military Police Company provided base security, VIP escort and security and custom missions.

Interim 1991 to 2001[edit]

The only extended overseas deployment of Rhode Island National Guard soldiers in this period was when the 119th Military Police Company was deployed to Taszar, Hungary in August 2001 to support Operation Joint Forge which was the NATO operation providing stability operations in Bosnia. Soldiers of the 119th provided convoy escorts, main supply route patrols, base security and support of various missions in support of the NATO Stabilization Force (SFOR). The 119th returned to Rhode Island in March 2001. A small public affairs unit of the RI Guard was also deployed in support of SFOR in this time frame.

Global War on Terrorism / Operation Iraqi Freedom[edit]

The current War on Terror has seen the largest levels of mobilization and deployment of Rhode Island National Guard troops since the Second World War.

In early 2002 the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 43d Military Police Brigade was mobilized and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to provide the nucleus of the Headquarters for Joint Task Force 160 in charge of detention of illegal combatants detained in operations in Afghanistan. JTF 160 was responsible for opening Camp Delta which was a detention facility which was a great improvement over Camp X-Ray where detainees were kept initially. It should be noted that the widely publicized and controversial interrogations of detainees were carried out by Joint Task Force 170 which was responsible for intelligence gathering at Guantanamo Bay. The 43d MP Brigade returned to Rhode Island in November 2002.

In February 2003 the 118th Military Police Battalion, along with its subordinate units the 115th and 119th Military Police companies, was mobilized and sent to Kuwait, and later Iraq. The units were overseas from April 2003 to April 2004. Two soldiers from the 115th Military Police Company were killed in action and another in an accident. The 115th MP Company received the prestigious Valorous Unit Award for its combat service in Fallujah in 2003.

In late August 2005, a composite company from the 43d Military Police Brigade was sent to New Orleans to provide security and humanitarian assistance to survivors of Hurricane Katrina.

From 2003 to 2011 every unit of the Rhode Island National Guard, with the exception of the 88th Army Band and the Joint Forces Headquarters, would be mobilized at least once for service in either Iraq or Afghanistan.

According to the RI NG and RI EMA Annual Report 2008, on 6 September 2008, the 103rd Field Artillery Brigade and one of its component units, the 1043rd Maintenance Company, were to inactivate on 6 September 2008.[8] The other unit of the brigade, the 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery, was to be reassigned elsewhere. The brigade was originally formed in 1979.

Strategic Plan[edit]

Mission: Provide well-trained, well-led, and well-equipped mission-ready units in support of the National Military Strategy and, as required, state and local officials.

Vision: A ready, relevant, and reliable force of Citizen Soldiers capable of conducting full-spectrum operations in joint and interagency environments.[9]

Major Commands[edit]

43rd Military Police Brigade
56th Troop Command

Special Operations Detachment - Global
RI Medical Command

Adjutants General of Rhode Island[edit]

  • Major General Leonard P. Holland, 1961-1983
  • Major General John W. Kiely, 1983-1990
  • Major General N. Andre Trudeau, 1990-1995
  • Major General Reginald Centracchio, 1995-2005
  • Major General Robert T. Bray, 2005-2010
  • Major General Kevin R. McBride, 2010–Present

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]