45th Field Artillery Brigade
|45th Fires Brigade|
Shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||1968 – present|
|Country||United States of America|
|Branch||Army National Guard|
|Role||Field artillery, unit training|
|Part of||Oklahoma Army National Guard|
|Motto||"Pride, Valor, Excellence"|
|Distinctive unit insignia|
Formed from elements of the disbanded 45th Infantry Division which saw action during World War II and the Korean War, along with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and 90th Troop Command, the 45th Fires Brigade was activated in 1968 as the 45th Field Artillery Group, later redesignated the 45th Field Artillery Brigade. The unit was again redesignated 45th Fires Brigade in 2008 with the implementation of Army Transformation.
Just as the 45th IBCT and the 90th Troop Command, the brigade retained the shoulder sleeve insignia of the 45th Infantry Division, only designing and approving its own SSI in 1997.
The brigade is a subordinate unit of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, headquartered in Mustang, OK. The brigade organically commands two battalions, a target acquisition battery, a maintenance company, and a network support (signal) company. These units are:
- Battery B (Target Acquisition), 171st Field Artillery Regiment
- 1st Battalion (HIMARS), 158th Field Artillery Regiment
- 205th Signal Company (Network Support)
- 271st Support Battalion (Brigade)
- 120th Forward Support Company (HIMARS)
In addition, the brigade has training oversight of three additional firing battalions and their associated forward support companies that reside in other states:
- 1st Battalion, 129th Field Artillery Regiment (M777), Missouri
- 4th Battalion (HIMARS), 133d Field Artillery Regiment, Texas
- 1st Battalion (PALADIN), 178th Field Artillery Regiment, South Carolina
The history of the 45th Fires Brigade can be traced back to the days following WWI when LTC William S. Key, I was appointed Captain of Field Artillery in the Oklahoma Army National Guard. He was directed to organize a light artillery battery at Wewoka, Oklahoma. By 1920, Oklahoma had three regiments of artillery, of which, the 158th is the core of today's fires brigade.
45th Infantry Division
On 19 October 1920, the Oklahoma State militia was organized as the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and organized with troops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. The division was organized and federally recognized as a US Army unit on 3 August 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Prior to World War II, the division was called on many times to maintain order in times of disaster and to keep peace during periods of political unrest. Oklahoma Governor John C. Walton used division troops to prevent the State Legislature from meeting when they were preparing to impeach him in 1923. Governor William H. Murray called out the guard several times during the depression to close banks, distribute food and once to force the State of Texas to keep open a free bridge over the Red River which Texas intended to collect tolls for, even after federal courts ordered the bridge not be opened.
The division would go on to see combat in World War II as one of four national guard divisions active during the war. The division was active for over five years, participating in eight campaigns, four amphibious assaults, for a total of 511 days of combat. Following World War II the division became an all-Oklahoma organization. In 1950, the division was also called into service during the Korean War, participating in four campaigns and fighting for 429 days.
Cold War years
In 1968, the division was disbanded and the 45th Fires Brigade was one of the units formed in its place.
The brigade did not participate in any overseas operations through the 1970s or 1980s, as the size of the active duty force negated the need for National Guard formations to be deployed during the relatively small contingencies of that period. Instead, the brigade was used to train active duty units, and other general peacetime missions within the United States. In 1991, the brigade became affiliated with the 1st Cavalry Division, providing training services for the division soldiers.
The 158th was a late deploying unit for Operation Desert Shield in 1991. By the time the 1-158th Field Artillery came together in the Saudi desert, the ground offensive of Desert Storm was only days away. The l-158th was assigned to the 75th Field Artillery Brigade, and their purpose was to fire preparatory fires on Iraqi artillery positions and other targets the following day, 21 February. This was also the beginning of the battalion constantly being on the move. This battalion would support seven different higher headquarters throughout the unit's time in-theater: 3d Armored Division; VII Corps Artillery, 210th Field Artillery Brigade in the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Infantry Division, and assigned in support of the 1st Cavalry Division. As part of VII Corps' repositioning of its units to the west in preparation for the "Hail Mary" tactic to defeat the Iraqi forces, A Battery, sent its advance party on a 95-mile desert march not knowing that within three days of that move, the battery would be the first Army National Guard unit to fire on the enemy.
On 16 February, Battery A engaged six enemy targets with 98 rockets. The next day the battery delivered 71 rockets on four targets and on 20 February, it launched 48 rockets against four more targets. The remainder of the 1-158th FA was unloading its launchers at Dammarn Port, Saudi Arabia. Battery B, and C Battery, soon began hitting enemy targets in preparation for the ground offensive. In total the 1-158 Field Artillery Oklahoma Army National Guard fired 903 rockets and traveled hundreds of kilometers in support of VII Corps operations.
Iraq and Afghanistan
Following 11 September 2001, the 45h Fires Brigade would not be left out of the deployment rotations. B/171st deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, and the remainder of the brigade deployed to Iraq in 2008, less the network support company which was being established. It is noteworthy that nearly ever member of this original network support company, aka 205th Sig. Co., were assigned to units being deployed to Iraq and Kuwait in 2008-2009. The vast majority deployed. It should also be known that the 2008 45th fires brigade deployment to "Iraq" sent four hundred of us from bravo and Charlie battery of one specific battalion were the only units deployed to a combat zone at that time. The others were doing their service, as commanded by the government, to run hq ops in Kuwait unrelated to our security ops. As a finishing remark to the gross negligence of this information we have lost far too many good men in the last six years for there not to be a much larger and in depth section of the 45th's participation in Afghanistan. The changes the 45th fires brigade have undertaken and handled like soldiers the last ten years or so deserves more specifics than this.
- Talley, Tim. "Legislature Honors 45th Infantry Brigade". Durant Democrat. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "Home At Last--National Guardsmen Return Home". Tulsa Beacon. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
- "45th Infantry Brigade Homepage: History". 45th Infantry Brigade. Retrieved 3 May 2009.
- "45th Fires Brigade Retirees' Brief" (PDF). Oklahoma National Guard.
- McGrath, p. 234.
- Wilson, p. 663.
- Wilson, p. 664.
- "GlobalSecurity.org: 45th Infantry Brigade". GlobalSecurity. Retrieved 3 May 2009.