Since the turn of the 20th century, units of the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT) have partaken in some of history’s greatest wars, and their defining battles. Similar to the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, a parallel sister-unit within the 3rd Infantry Division, the 2nd ABCT boasts the title as one of the most deployed conventional units within the military. It has participated in engagements from WWI, WWII, Korea, and throughout the Gulf. The 2nd ABCT provides a critical armored component to the 3rd Infantry Division, bringing diversity in combat power and dynamic logistical support that, when called upon by the President of the United States, enables the 3rd Infantry Division to strike fast and with overwhelming force against any adversary throughout the World.
Constituted on November 12th, 1917 at Camp Green, North Carolina the 2nd ABCT was originally designated as the Headquarters Detachment to the 5th Infantry Brigade (BDE), 3rd Division in anticipation of the United States’ involvement to WWI. The 5th BDE cut their teeth with their first combat experience defending a portion of the Allied Expeditionary Forces assisting the French during the Third Battle of Aisne. Demonstrating the unit’s courage under fire, the 5th BDE then launched a surprise attack without artillery support during the Battle of Battle of Château-Thierry. Other battles would follow that would go on to define the 5th BDE and later 3rd Infantry Division overall; the Battle of the Marne River (the riverside engagement from which the 3rd Infantry Division would take its motto “Rock of the Marne”), the breakout of the city of Metz during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, and finally the 5th BDE would participate in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive that would assist in the end of the war. The 5th BDE’s own PFC John L. Barkley received the Medal of Honor on October 7th, 1918 for his actions near Cunel, France.
Following the war, in March 1921 the 5th Infantry BDE was maintained as part of the 3rd Division during which Brigadier General George C. Marshall served as its distinguished commander. However, on October 16th, 1939 the 5th BDE was disbanded at Vancouver Barracks, Washington following a reorganizational effort within the Army’s division structure away from the “Square” adaptation into the “Triangular” concept. This enabled the 3rd Infantry Division to rapidly address the emergent threats to world stability with greater manning. Although the 5th BDE’s headquarters was inactive, major elements that would later comprise the 2nd ABCT were heavily involved in WWII, participating in major European amphibious landings, long marches in the North African desert, and the battles through Italy and France in 1943. Following the defeat of German forces the soon-to-be elements of the 2nd ABCT returned to the United States, but their returned was short-lived as some units were redirected to support the Asiatic-Pacific theatre until the end of the War against Japan.
The future 2nd ABCT elements were limited during the Korean War with many of the comprising 5th BDE elements participating in a total of eight separate campaigns, and fought from the intervention of the Chinese Communist Forces in November 1950 until the 1953 official Cease-Fire.
Once again reconstituted on April 18th, 1963 into the regular Army, the 5th BDE was redesigned as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd BDE, 3rd Infantry Division under the Reorganization Objective Army Division, or “ROAD” concept, which realigned the 3rd Infantry Division around its combat and maneuver units. It replaced the old infantry regiments and armor combatant commands with three combat BDEs. On June 17th, that same year the 2nd BDE was activated in Kitzingen, Germany and stationed near the Fulda Gap, the main approach route from the east into Western Germany. It was widely anticipated that should conflict with the Soviet Union break out in the Cold War, the Fulda Gap would be where the hammer fell first. The remote duty locations, combined with hard-to-find resources led to the 2nd BDE to earn its “Spartan” nickname, but on January 15th, 1994, the 2nd BDE was deactivated again per the US/European drawdown until 1996.
On February 16th, 1996 the 2nd BDE was reflagged as a whole from the 24th Infantry Division back to the 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Stewart, Georgia under the XVIII Airborne Corps’ Rapid Deployment Force. The 2nd BDE finally became the heavy armor component to the 3rd Infantry Division and over the next six years would conduct multiple training missions throughout the United States and overseas. Because of this forward leaning training posture, the 2nd BDE stood ready to answer the President’s call in support of Operations Desert Thunder and Desert Fox to defend Kuwait against Iraqi aggression.
In 2002, the 2nd BDE was again pre-positioned in Kuwait to offset potential Iraqi aggression. On March 19th, 2003, the 2nd BDE entered Iraq to liberate its people amid the opening of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF). In one of the most rapid conventional land-force assaults in history, the 2nd BDE was the first Coalition unit to seize Baghdad and begin a series of heavy armor movements into the city known as the “Thunder Run”. By the middle of that same year a majority of the 3rd Infantry Division’s combat role had concluded, and the various units prepared for their return to home garrison. For their role, the 2nd BDE and other comprising 3rd Infantry Division units were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation by then President George W. Bush.
However, the 2nd BDE’s time in Iraq was not limited to the opening of OIF. In January 2005 and again in May 2007, the 2nd BDE redeployed as part Multi-National Forces-Iraq (MNF-I) in OIF III and V. The 2nd BDE performed various stability and security-associated missions, which included direct action operations against terrorist forces, humanitarian missions and reconstruction efforts to restore normalcy and expand the Iraqi people’s fledging growth in democracy.
By September 2009 the 2nd BDE deployed again on its fourth MNF-I tour and into the turbulent northern Iraqi provinces known as the “last hard place in Iraq”. Of all the organizational-units within the 3rd Infantry Division, the 2nd BDE became the only BDE to serve in each of the major regions of Iraq, south, central and north. The unit’s sphere of dominance was the largest land-wise, spanning the area north of Baghdad running from the Turkish border in the north to the Syrian border in the west to the Iranian border in the east. Because of their hard-fought efforts, 70% of Iraqis participated in the country’s first democratic elections on 7 March 2010. The 2nd BDE then redeployed back to the United States in November the same year. Since their redeployment, the 2nd BDE has assumed the organizational change of “ABCT” to reflect its heavy-armor presence; and undergoes extensive annual training, maintaining the proficiency their unit has come to be known by. In addition, the ABCT transformation reflected the organizational shift into a Brigade Consolidated Team that enables each subordinate battalion to serve self sufficiently and deploy independently as needed. Because of this and the longstanding tradition of always volunteering for the hard mission and never backing down, the members and Command of the 2nd BDE, 3rd Infantry Division stand as vanguards to American military power – always ready, and live by their motto “SEND ME!”
Today, the 2nd ABCT is led by Colonel (COL) Scott A. Jackson, who was commissioned an Infantry second lieutenant in 1990. Graduating from the military program at Notre Dame; he holds a Bachelor’s Degree, and two Masters. Adding to his academic success, COL Jackson also is a graduate of the US Army Command and General Staff Collage, the School of Advanced Military Studies, and served as a Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where this thesis examined biometrics in the military’s targeting process. His military schooling includes the Infantry Officer’s Basic and Advanced Courses, Airborne School, and Air Assault School. When asked about his personal views on the 2nd ABCT’s unique challenge coin COL Jackson replied,
“Challenge coins represent excellence. They are only awarded to Soldiers and DA Civilians who have exceeded the standard, ‘challenging others to follow their example.’”
COL Jackson has served in a variety of duty assignments to include; Lead Operations and Executive Officer for the 1st Cavalry Division during OIF I and II (2003-2004) in 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and participated in that unit’s assault of Najaf and Fallujah; Operations Officer and Executive Officer 3rd Heavy BDE Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division with a 2006 deployment to Iraq’s Diyala Province and the Army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team as Deputy Team Leader and Senior Coalition Advisor to the Iraqi Provincial Governor; Commander 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment with an eight-month deployment in 2008 to Baghdad, Iraq; and finally Assistant Chief of Staff, G3 for the 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Assisting COL Jackson in leading the soldiers of the 2nd ABCT is Command Sergeant Major (CSM) Jefferson D. Moser who entered the United States Army on 21 September 1986 at Dearborn, Michigan as Infantrymen and attending Basic and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. CSM Moser civilian and military education include an Associate Degree from Excelsior College of New York, graduate of the United States Army Sergeants Major Academy (Class #57); Ranger School; Primary Leadership Development Course; Basic/Advanced Non-Commissioned Officers Course; Airborne School; Air Assault School; Battle Staff Course; Master Fitness Course; Instructor Operator Course; Light Leaders Course; Bradley Transition Course; and Combat Life Saver Course.
Much like COL Jackson, CSM Moser also draws upon his extensive military career in advising and leading the enlisted of 2nd ABCT. His previous assignments include; 5th Battalion, 187th Infantry, Fort Campbell, Kentucky; 5th Battalion, 327th Infantry (Riflemen), Fort Richardson, Arkansas; 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry (Squad Leader), Fort Richardson, Arkansas; 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry (Squad Leader), Fort Polk, Louisiana; 5th Battalion, 20th Infantry (Squad/Section Leader), Camp Casey, Korea; 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry (Section Leader), Fort Stewart, Georgia; 2nd Battalion (PLT Sergeant), 9th Infantry, Camp Casey, Korea; 3rd Battalion (Platoon Sergeant/ Platoon Leader), 7th Infantry, Fort Stewart, Georgia where he also deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry, Fort Stewart, Georgia (Iraq) as a Line Company and a HHC First Sergeant. He then served in the 1st Battalion (Operation Sergeant Major), 30th Infantry, Fort Stewart, Georgia, 4th Infantry BDE Combat Team (IBCT), Fort Riley, Ks (Iraq) as a Battalion CSM; 1st Heavy BDE Combat Team, 1st Infantry as a BDE CSM.
Offering a unique-shaped challenge coin in the design of a “Spartan” shield, and honoring the 2nd ABCT service in France during World War I, the ABCT’s defense along the Marne, and later in Germany holding Communism at bay during the Cold War. Standing in simple contrast of a divided field in red and blue to reflect the Infantry BDE’s colors, along the outer edge appears the name for each major participating conflict of the 2nd ABCT. Near the top is the unit’s designation, reading “2nd ABDE Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division” under which is the 3rd Infantry Divisional blue & white striped Divisional patch. Below the Divisional patch is emblemized the BDEs numerical “2” designation, while at the bottom of the shield in a brass scroll reads the 2nd ABCT’s motto of “Send Me” in blue due to it’s role as a first line of defense against the Germans in WWI and the Soviets in the Cold War. Echoing the 2nd ABCT’s challenge coin’s unique values, COL Jackson states,
“The Spartan Brigade Coin represents a history of excellence. The listing of campaigns on the front demonstrate the Brigades long history of service during periods of conflict, and the presentation of the coin, symbolizes a continuation of that history of excellence”.
Demonstrating the long-standing history of the 2nd ABCT, the Reverse of the Commander’s Challenge coin features a centered 3rd Infantry Divisional crest featuring a blue wyvern astride a river rock under which is written “Nous Resterons La” (Here We Will Stay). In the upper left in the honorific position is the Army rank of full Colonel, to reflect the rank of its Commanding Officer. Adjacent to that is the supporting enlisted rank of Command Sergeant Major demonstrating the close working relationship between the Commander and his Senior Enlisted service member. At the bottom of the shield is the phrase, “Presented for Excellence” inside a pair of five-pointed stars to reflect the 3rd Infantry Divisional Command rank. At the bottom of the shield is a golden brass scroll wherein the 2nd ABCT’s nickname of “Spartans” is written in blue. Elaborating further, COL Jackson maintains
“Recognition of Excellence is a component of caring for Soldiers. Soldiers need to know that their efforts are appreciated and contribute to the overall success of the organization. Without the individual efforts of the Soldiers, we could accomplish nothing as an organization. Presentation of our Coin, is recognition that an individual’s efforts have made a significant improvement in the organization”.
Previously circa 2012, a limited number of alternate 2nd ABCT Commander Challenge coins were produced to reflect the “Spartan” brigade. While keeping a majority of the unit’s historic coin design, the alternate 2nd ABCT Commander’s Challenge Coin features a Corinthian “Spartan” helmet with blue-and-white crest (to reflect the 3rd Infantry Division’s colors) centered on the Reverse in lieu of the 3rd Infantry Divisional Crest. Otherwise, all features of the Obverse and Reverse remain the same.
3rd Infantry Division. History. 2nd BDE Public Affairs Office. July 2013. http://www.stewart.army.mil/units/2BCT/history.asp (accessed Jun 28, 2012).
Contributions provided by SGT Richard D. Wrigley, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 3rd Infantry Division.