Soldiers of the Army’s oldest established field army recently paid tribute to the birthday of oldest organized militia in the United States, on a base that has been in operation since 1862.
Maj. Gen Troy Galloway, the First Army deputy commanding general-operations and a member of the Arkansas National Guard, hosted the event at the Rock Island Arsenal Museum to celebrate the first militia regiments in North America organized on December 13, 1636. The date marks the beginning of the organized militia, and the birth of the National Guard’s oldest organized units is symbolic of the founding of all the state, territory and District of Columbia militias that collectively make up today’s National Guard.
Galloway talked about the Total Force Partnership First Army has enjoyed with the National Guard for more than one hundred years, partnering with Guard units since World War I. The shared history, he said, is especially important in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Galloway highlighted four National Guard Divisions which fought under First Army during the decisive month-long battle.
These included the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Division, Massachusetts’ 26th Division, and the 35th Division comprised of Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri Guard members. Descendants of the fourth Division, the 30th Division, are currently deployed as the 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team to the Middle East to support Operation Spartan Shield.
The continued partnership across the components is vital, Galloway said, in the face of renewed competition from adversaries with similar military capabilities.
“We face renewed great power competition of the likes not experienced since the dissolution of the Soviet Union,” Galloway said. “The need for a modern and capable Total Force has never been more apparent and necessary to serve as the deterrent for our adversaries and potential aggressors around the globe.”
A ready Total Force, he said, is vital to deterrence of those aggressors.
“We simply cannot afford to allow our adversaries to believe…not for one second, that they would have any chance at going toe-to-toe with the U.S. Army. The stakes are simply too high. That is why our ARNG and its readiness has never been more important to our Army.”
The birthday also included the traditional cutting of a cake by the oldest and youngest National Guardmembers assigned to First Army. Capt. Terry Dunn, an Operations Officer and the youngest National Guard Soldier at First Army Headquarters, and Col. Steve Carroll, the oldest National Guard Soldier and the Senior Guard Advisor to First Army, accompanied Galloway to cut the cake with a ceremonial saber.