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The 116th Armored Cavalry Brigade has units located throughout Idaho, Montana, Utah, and Oregon. It was reorganized into a heavy armor brigade in 1989. The 116th Cavalry Brigade, one of only 15 Heavy Separate Brigades in the country, is Idaho's largest unit. It consists of two armor battalions (one located in eastern Oregon), a Combat Engineer Battalion, a Field Artillery Battalion, and a Support Battalion. The 116th fields the most modern equipment in the Army inventory and serves as a model for other National Guard units. The Brigade's Idaho units include more than 3000 citizen soldiers.
The mission of the National Guard differs from the Army in that the National Guard typically supports three missions instead of one primary mission -- a Wartime Mission, a State Mission and a Community Support Mission.
Unlike the US Army Reserve, which primarily contains the CS and CSS units, the Army National Guard consists of combat units. A majority of the units are organized into enhanced brigades. Previously referred to as "roundout brigades," this organizational concept began at the end of the Vietnam era. The enhanced brigades are affiliated with an active division to include light, heavy or mechanized. These brigades have a dedicated forward support battalion aligned under the division support commander during war. The enhanced brigades train with their dedicated divisions and rely on their divisions to evaluate RC training. For example, during the Brigade Command Training Program, the 116th Armored Cavalry Regiment from Boise, ID, participates with the 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized). In the event of a Presidential call-up, Army National Guard units must be federalized. Therefore, these units cease to be under the control of the governor of a state. The governors use the Army National Guard, when not federalized, for support within each state as determined by each state governor.
The 116th Armored Cavalry Brigade is one of only 15 Enhanced Heavy Separate Brigades in the U.S. It has a higher operations tempo and increased funding for training. In July 1998, the 116th deployed to the National Training Center (NTC) in Southern California to conduct the most intense training the U.S. Army offers during a three-week rotation. As only the second National Guard Brigade to deploy to the NTC since Desert Storm, the 116th shattered some preconceived ideas that National Guard combat units are unable to fight against a formidable enemy without an extensive train-up. The 116th not only fought a "World-Class Opposing Force" but they won two of the four battles. This was unexpected because; even the soldiers who train 365 days a year are more often then not, unable to accomplish this feat. This was the first time that everyone in this brigade has had the chance to maneuver together. Its primary armor, mechanized infantry and cavalry units are based in Idaho, Oregon and Montana. But its total force -- including an air defense artillery company in North Dakota, a signal company in Arkansas and a chemical company in Minnesota -- are scattered over 41 states. That all of those units must first answer to their governors and then to their brigade headquarters is what makes the National Guard unique among this nation's military organizations. The mission involved maintaining and operating up to 81 Abrams tanks, 57 Bradley fighting vehicles and 20 self-propelled howitzers along with hundreds of trucks and Humvees against an uncompromising home team, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment that, for the training, has been configured as a Russian motorized rifle regiment.
Approximately 300 Idaho Army National Guardsmen and women served in Bosnia in 2001 and 2002. The 116th Cavalry Brigade, headquartered at Gowen Field, deployed approximately 100 soldiers in March 2002, returning in October, 2002. The 116th will be under the command and control of the Army's 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii, during the deployment. The 91st Division (Training Support) trained the 116th Cavalry prior to its deployment to Bosnia for Stabilization Force 11.
The 116th Cavalry (Snake River Regiment) was constituted on 4 March 1920 in the Idaho National Guard as the 1st Cavalry. It organized between March-November 1920 in the valley of the Snake River. It was redesignated on 12 October 1921 as the 116th Cavalry (less 2nd and 3rd Squadrons): Headquarters was Federally recognized on 11 February 1922 at Boise (2nd and 3rd Squadrons were allotted in 1929 to the Idaho National Guard). The location of Headquarters changed on 15 March 1929 to Weiser; and on 9 December 1930 to Boise. The 116th Cavalry (less 3rd Squadron) converted and was redesignated on 16 September 1940 to the 183rd Field Artillery (the 3rd Squadron concurrently converted and was redesignated as elements of the 148th Field Artillery - hereafter separate lineage).
The 183rd Field Artillery was inducted into Federal Service on 1 April 1941 at home stations. The Regiment was broken up on 8 February 1943 and its elements were reorganized and redesignated as follows: Headquarters and Headquarters Battery as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 183 Field Artillery Group; the 1st Battalion as the 183rd Field Artillery Battalion (it inactivated on 30 October 1944, Camp Myles Standish, MA); the 2nd Battalion as the 951st Field Artillery Battalion (it inactivated on 13 October 1945 at Camp Myles Standish, MA).
The above units were reorganized as elements of the 183rd Infantry (Headquarters was Federally recognized on 10 January 1947 at Twin Falls) and the 116th Mechnanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Headquarters was Federally recognized on 8 January 1947 at Caldwell). The 183rd Infantry (less 3rd Battalion) and 116th Mechanized Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron were consolidated, reorganized, and redesignated on 12 September 1949 as the 116th Armored Cavalry with Headquarters at Twin Falls. The 3rd Battalion, 183rd Infantry, was concurrently converted and redesignated as the 116th Engineer Combat Battalion- hereafter separate lineage. The 3rd Squadron was allotted on 15 December 1967 to the Nevada Army National Guard; it was relieved in 11 May 1974 from allotment to the Nevada Army National Guard and allotted to the Oregon Army National Guard. The 1st Squadron was relieved on 1 May 1977 from allotment to the Idaho Army National Guard. The Attack Helicopter Company was allotted on 1 September 1975 to the Washington and Wyoming Army National Guard.
The unit reorganized and was redesignated on 1 September 1989 in the Idaho and Oregon Army National Guard as the 116th Cavalry, a parent regiment under the United States Army Regiment System, to consist of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions and Troop E, elements of the 116th Cavalry Brigade, and Troop F, and element of the 41st Infantry Brigade. It was reorganized on 1 October 1995 to consist of the 2nd and 3rd Battalions, elements of the 116th Cavalry Brigade.