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Third army: mission-ready

Third army: mission-ready

Heike Hasenauer

THIRD U.S. Army, located at Fort McPherson, Ga., was known as “Patton’s Own” in World War II. Under command of LTG George S. Patton Jr., Third Army participated in eight major operations and, according to historical records, inflicted many more casualties on the enemy than the enemy did on it.

In 1991 Third Army led coalition forces to victory in Operation Desert Storm. Today, it leads Army troops who are deployed in two of the most demanding hotspots in the world–Iraq and Afghanistan.

“I think the experience that Third Army headquarters has had in the last two years of operations–focused in Afghanistan and Iraq–made everybody aware that this is a deployable, operational, warfighting headquarters in a most volatile area,” said Third Army commander LTG David D. McKiernan.

As the Army’s headquarters element within the joint-services U.S. Central Command, Third Army is commonly known as ARCENT, for Army Central Command. As such, it’s responsible for providing command and control for all Army forces entering a theater of operations in its area of responsibility, or AOR, and for providing critical communication links to joint combatant commanders in the field.

ARCENT’s AOR–6.5 million square miles in 25 countries–is an area that contains the majority of the world’s oil and natural-gas reserves, and is the primary link between Europe and Asia. Inhabited by some 520 million people, who speak 12 major languages and represent seven major religions, it’s an area where history and culture pose unique challenges, Army officials have said.

The landscape spans countries on the Arabian Peninsula, including Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar; to Egypt and Jordan; Djibouti, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan in the Horn of Africa; and Afghanistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan in South Central Asia.

Third Army headquarters can deploy to a crisis area at a moment’s notice and assume the role of Joint Forces Land Component Command, as it did in Kuwait, at the beginning of Operation Enduring Freedom, officials said. In the coming months Third Army will monitor the largest movement of troops since World War II.

“This is the Army’s only operational warfighting headquarters that is forward-deployed and deployable anywhere in the AOR as a state-of-the-art command, control, intelligence and communications headquarters,” McKiernan said. “This is a headquarters where Soldiers have to be ready to deploy, as we’ve been in the last two years. For those who want to go to the sound of the guns, this is the place to be.”

For personnel assigned to Third Army, the mission includes coordinating, controlling and synchronizing all the land operations in the AOR.

* ARCENT–Kuwait, headquartered at Camp Doha, is responsible for the reception and staging of personnel arriving in the theater and for installation support for the facilities at Arifjan, Kuwait.

* ARCENT–Saudi Arabia, headquartered at Eskan Village, is the administrative headquarters for Army forces in Saudi Arabia.

* ARCENT-Qatar, headquartered at Doha, is responsible for base support for a heavy brigade set and division base of prepositioned equipment, in addition to its other duties to facilitate the reception, staging, onward movement and integration of forces deploying in support of operations, exercises and contingencies.

As Third Army continues to execute multiple and parallel operations, CSM John D. Sparks said he could not be more proud of the organization’s officers, NCOs and civilians, and of what they have accomplished in the continuing war on terrorism.

“This is an incredible organization and it has the capability to execute just about any operation,” Sparks said. “It’s an organization full of incredible people who will continue to do amazing things in the future.”

COPYRIGHT 2004 Soldiers Magazine

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group