256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
|256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team|
|Active||1967 – present|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Type||Infantry brigade combat team|
|Nickname(s)||Louisiana Brigade (special designation) |
|Engagements||Operation Iraqi Freedom|
|Colonel William T. Rachal|
The 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team ("Louisiana Brigade") is a modular infantry brigade combat team (IBCT) of the Louisiana Army National Guard. It is headquartered in Lafayette, Louisiana. Currently the brigade is part of the 36th Infantry Division (United States) of the Texas Army National Guard.
The brigade was established in 1967, as part of an initiative by Secretary of Defense McNamara to reduce the number of National Guard divisions while increasing the number of brigades. The 256th replaced a brigade from the 39th Infantry Division in the Louisiana Army National Guard. The brigade was part of the Selected Reserve Force from 1967–1969, but the Selected Reserve Force was eliminated in an attempt to eliminate readiness differences between reserve component units. The brigade initially consisted of three infantry battalions and a "brigade base": a headquarters company; a reconnaissance troop; light tank and engineer companies; a 105mm howitzer battalion; and a support battalion In 1975, the 256th was assigned as the 'round-out' brigade for the 5th Infantry Division as part of the expansion to a 24 division force. The brigade was mechanized in 1977, when the 1st Battalion, 156th Infantry was converted to the 1st Battalion, 156th Armor
The 256th Brigade was activated from November 1990 through May 1991, and conducted training at Fort Hood, TX, but never deployed. Some controversy arose over this activation of three round out brigades (the 256th; the 48th Infantry Brigade, Georgia Army National Guard; and the 155th Armor Brigade, Mississippi Army National Guard). None of the three brigades deployed before the end of combat in Operations Desert Storm. After the 5th Infantry Division was inactivated in 1992, the 256th Brigade served as the round out brigade for the 2nd Armored Division, until the end of the round out program in 1996.
With the end of the round out program, the 256th was selected as one of 15 Enhanced Brigades in the ARNG. The enhanced brigade program increased resources and training to allow the brigades to mobilize and deploy within 120 days.
Iraq War, 2004–05
During train up for operations in the spring, summer and fall of 2004, the 256th Infantry Brigade was stationed at Fort Hood, Texas. The Brigade then completed a NTC rotation at Fort Irwin, California. The brigade spent another month training in the desert of Camp Buehring, Kuwait prior to moving into Iraq.
In 2004–2005, the 256th Brigade was sent to Iraq as part of OIF III (Operation Iraqi Freedom III, the third U.S. military rotation of forces into the area of operations). It served under the 1st Cavalry Division for its first five months and its last several months under the 3rd Infantry Division. During the first half of its combat tour in Iraq some of the brigade's subordinate units also served under the 10th Mountain Division. The brigade served in and around Baghdad, Iraq in a FOB known originally as FOB Victory until 15 June 2004. At this date FOB Victory's name was changed to FOB Liberty because on this date the Iraqi government officially "stood up". Upon the 256th's arrival at North Liberty it became Camp Tigerland. During operations in theater the brigade operated under the configuration of one-third heavy and two-thirds light.
Each battalion in the brigade had one company of heavy forces with M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, M2A2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, or a mixture of the two. The other two-thirds operated primarily from HMMWV Gun Trucks that mounted either machine guns or automatic grenade launchers. The field artillery battalion was cannibalized to bring the infantry battalions up to full strength. The remainder of the Washington Artillery was attached to the 1st Cavalry Division base defense operations center (BDOC) under the command of the 103rd Field Artillery Brigade and the XVIII Airborne Corps. One howitzer platoon from the Washington Artillery was used to provide indirect fires in support of FOB Liberty. Additionally, Task Force Bengal was "stood up" as a liaison/training team to equip, train and assist the 40th Iraqi National Guard (ING) Brigade. TF Bengal consisted of soldiers and officers of the infantry, field artillery, and engineer units from the 256th Brigade as well as the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry (The Fighting 69th) from New York City which had been attached for the deployment. Attached to the 69th Infantry was Delta 101, a company of tankers and scouts turned infantrymen from New York's 101st Cavalry Regiment. During the American Civil War, the 69th engaged the ancestral units of the 256th many times, so their attachment to each other for OIF provided a symbolic reconciliation 140 years after they fought each other to the death repeatedly from 1861 to 1865. On 21 February 2005, the 40th ING Brigade assumed authority for approximately 16 square kilometers in and around Al Akadhimian and began patrolling with approximately 2800 soldiers.
The 256th lost 32 soldiers in the Iraq War.
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 2005
On 29 August 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck the gulf coast of Louisiana and Mississippi while most members of the 256th Infantry Brigade were still serving their final weeks of deployment in Iraq. Following the return of the brigade to Louisiana, a detachment immediately mobilized to New Orleans to aid law enforcement with rescue efforts. With the help of the Louisiana State Police, those efforts transitioned into a support mission for the New Orleans Police Department. Joint Task Force Gator was created to help combat the rise of looting and other crimes resulting from the loss of law enforcement officers in the New Orleans area. After three-and-a-half years of assisting local police and patrolling the city, the task force was released from duty on 28 February 2009.
Conversion to a Modular Infantry Brigade Combat Team
On 1 September 2006, the 256th converted from a separate mechanized infantry brigade into a modular Infantry Brigade Combat Team. The 1st Battalion, 156th Armor inactivated and its personnel were used to form the 2d Squadron, 108th Cavalry. The 2d and 3rd Battalions, 156th Infantry converted from three mechanized infantry to infantry, and the 1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery traded its 155mm self-propelled howitzers for 105mm towed howitzers. The brigade also formed a new battalion, the Special Troops Battalion (STB), 256th BCT, which provided a battalion headquarters for companies of engineers, signal and military intelligence.
Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, 2008
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Deployment to Iraq, 2010
On Monday 19 May 2008, Louisiana's 256th BCT was alerted by the Defense Department that they might begin a second tour in Iraq starting in spring 2010. Brigades from the Texas, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee National Guards were also notified in the same press release. The press release specifically stated tours of duty in Iraq and Kuwait, and not Afghanistan. The notice of this deployment came within three years of the unit's return from their first tour of Iraq in 2004–05.
In February and March 2009, the 256th prepared for deployment to Iraq.
On 5 January 2010, the 256th BCT left for mobilization at Camp Shelby, Mississippi where soldiers trained for a variety of missions, such as PSD, FOB security, gate guard, convoy security, and more. In early March, they flew out of Gulf Coast Airport in Mississippi.
The brigade was divided into many different sections, being controlled by sustainment brigades and commands. The brigade commander, Col. Ball, did not command the entire brigade as subordinate units fell under other brigades. While select units returned home in August, the majority of brigade unit deployed back to home station in Louisiana in December 2010.
Order of battle
Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC), 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (256th IBCT)
2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 2-156th Infantry, in Abbeville, Louisiana with a detachment in Jeanerette, Louisiana
- Company A, in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana with a detachment in Plaquemine, Louisiana
- Company B, in New Iberia, Louisiana with a detachment in Franklin, Louisiana
- Company C, in Houma, Louisiana
- Company D, in Thibodaux, Louisiana
- Company G, 199th BSB (attached), in Jeanerette, Louisiana
3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 3-156th Infantry, in Lake Charles, Louisiana with a detachment in DeQuincy, Louisiana
- Company A, in Fort Polk, Louisiana with a detachment in DeRidder, Louisiana
- Company B, in Pineville, Louisiana (Camp Beauregard) with a detachment in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- Company C, in Crowley, Louisiana with a detachment in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Company D, in Opelousas, Louisiana
- Company H, 199th BSB (attached), in Dequincy, Louisiana
1st Battalion, 173rd Infantry Alabama Army National Guard
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 1-173rd Infantry located in Enterprise, Alabama
- Company A, in Geneva, Alabama
- Company B, in Valley, Alabama
- Company C, in Foley, Alabama
- Company D, in Florala, Alabama
- Company I, 199th BSB (attached), in Enterprise, Alabama
1st Battalion, 141st Field Artillery "Washington Artillery"
- Headquarters and Headquarters Battery (HHB) 1-141st Field Artillery located in New Orleans, Louisiana (Orleans Parish).
- Battery A (105mm), in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Battery B (105mm), in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Battery C (155mm), in New Orleans, Louisiana
- Company F, 199th BSB (attached), in New Orleans, Louisiana
2nd Squadron, 108th Cavalry
- Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (HHT) located in Shreveport, Louisiana
- Troop A, in Natchitoches, Louisiana
- Troop B, in Shreveport, Louisiana
- Troop C, in Coushatta, Louisiana.
- Company D, 199th BSB (attached), in Shreveport, Louisiana
199th Brigade Support Battalion (199th BSB)
- Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) 199th BSB located in Alexandria, Louisiana (Rapides Parish)
- Company A (Supply & Transportation), in Colfax, Louisiana
- Company B (Maintenance)
- Company C (Medical), in St. Martinville, Louisiana
769th Brigade Engineer Battalion (769th BEB)
- 769th BEB Battalion Headquarters and Headquarters Service Company (HSC) located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana (East Baton Rouge Parish).
- Company A (Combat Engineer), in New Roads, Louisiana
- Company B (Combat Engineer), in Napoleonville, Louisiana
- Company C (Signal), in Lafayette, Louisiana
- Company D (Military Intelligence), in Lafayette, Louisiana with a TUAS detachment in Fort Polk, Louisiana
- Company E, 199th BSB (attached) located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
- "Special Designation Listing". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010.
- Wilson, John B. (1997). "Maneuver and Firepower: The Evolution of Divisions and Separate Brigades". Army Lineage Series. CMH Pub 60-14. United States Army Center of Military History. p303,338,341
- McGrath, The Brigade, 240.
- Pope, Major Jeffrey L., and Lieutenant Colonel Leonid Kondratiuk. "Armor-Cavalry Regiments". Army National Guard Lineage Series. National Guard Bureau, Historical Serviced Division: Washington, DC. April 1995. p49.
- Brady, James T., "Ready to Serve? The 48th, 155th, and 256th Brigades and the round-out concept during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm." Command and General Staff College, MMAS thesis; 15 June 2007; <http://cgsc.cdmhost.com/cdm/ref/collection/p4013coll2/id/1073>, accessed 24 January 2017
- McGrath, The Brigade, 103.
- Tiger Tracks. Last Edition on Deployment. PDF
- "Hurricane Katrina". NOAA. Archived from the original on 20 November 2011. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- "Guard wraps up its time in N.O." Times-Picayune. 28 February 2009. Archived from the original on 21 April 2014. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- Louisiana Guard brigade returning to Iraq – Times-Picayune
- DefenseLink News Article: Upcoming Iraq, Afghanistan Rotations Announced
- "Reporting for Duty |". theadvertiser.com. 15 February 2010. Archived from the original on 11 November 2013. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
- Davis, Sergeant Noshoba, "Louisiana Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade conducts annual training", http://geauxguard.la.gov/la-guards-256th-infantry-brigade-conducts-annual-training/