California Milita and National
Guard Unit Histories
Regimental Systems of the California
US Army Regimental System in
the California Army National Guard
By Lt. Col. Danny M. Johnson, USA (Ret), Army Historian
United esprit de corps and unit cohesion are essential characteristics
of an effective fighting organization. Military history has demonstrated
that units with high esprit, a sense of tradition and pride in
past achievements perform well in combat. The goal of an effective
regimental system is to provide soldiers with a personnel system
that foster unit readiness and combat effectiveness by developing
in soldiers a sense of loyalty and commitment which comes from
long-term identification with a unit.
The regiment as a clearly defined military unit emerged in the
late Middle Ages. During this period the regiment came to be
a basic building block of many state military machines, very
much as the legion had performed the same function for Imperial
Rome. The word "regiment" is derived from the Latin
word regimen, meaning a rule or a system of order. In most armies
it denoted a body of troops headed by a colonel and organized
into companies, battalions or squadrons. French cavalry units
were designated with the title as early as 1558. During the European
conflict known as the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the regiment
came into its own as the basic organizational unit in European
armies and remained so for the next 250 years.
While the battalion became the basic tactical unit in most armies,
its parent unit, the regiment became the principal instrument
of garrison administration: recruiting, training and centralizing
wartime command. As armies became permanent royal (later national)
organizations and professional in character, regDAiments (especially
those with an illustrious history of achievements in combat)
increasingly became objects of institutional loyalty, pride and
esprit, particularly among their leaders. Both state and arm
consciously promoted cohesiveness by endowing each regiment with
a distinctive name, number, colors, uniform and insignia.
A regimental system provides not only the opportunity for soldiers
to develop a long-term identification with a regiment but the
potential for recurring assignments and the opportunity to highlight
the history, customs and traditions behind the regiments. The
US Army developed the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS), which
was the method of assigning unit designations to units of the
five combat arms (Infantry, Field Artillery, Armor, Cavalry,
and Air Defense Artillery) of the United States Army from 1957
to 1981. The Combat Arms Regimental System was superseded by
the U.S. Army Regimental System (USARS) in 1981. Aviation became
one of combat arms branches on 12 April 1983 and Special Forces
In compliance with National Guard Regulation 600-82, the US Army
Regimental System (Army National Guard) was implemented within
the California Army National Guard under CAL ARNGR 600-82 . This
regulation governs the US Army Regimental System (Army National
Guard) which includes ARNG combat arms, combat support, combat
service support and special branch units and personnel. At present,
seven combat arms regiments are allotted to California: 18th
Cavalry Regiment, 140th Aviation Regiment, 143d Field Artillery
Regiment, 144th Field Artillery Regiment, 160th Infantry Regiment,
184th Infantry Regiment, and 185th Armor Regiment. The Department
of the Army recognizes both the 149th Armor Regiment and 159th
Infantry Regiment as valid regiments. Both regiments are currently
inactive. The 149th Armor Regiment maintains a Regimental Headquarters
USARS is also designed to provide for CS, CSS and special branches
to operate on a "whole branch" concept as a corps or
special branch, carrying on the activities and traditions of
a regiment, offer regimental affiliation to allow soldiers the
opportunity for continuous identification with a combat arms
regiment, a corps, or special branch throughout their careers.
Combat support, combat service support and special branches are
organized as whole branches as follows: Acquisition Corps, Adjutant
General's Corps, Army Medical Department Regiment, Chaplain Corps,
Chemical Corps, Civil Affairs ,Corps of Engineers, Finance Corps,
Judge Advocate General's Corps, Logistics, Military Intelligence
Corps, Ordnance Corps, Quartermaster Corps, Psychological Operations,
Signal Corps, and Transportation Corps.
Added 22 Feb 13
by Mr. Dan Sebby, Curator, California
State Military Museum
Quite often you hear the term, "regimental property".
When discussing the regimental system. Normally these items are
items such as uniforms, photographs and other souvenirs. This
includes small arms that are loaned by individuals to the regiment
for display in a regimental room or display case. It does not
include items such as:
Heraldic items such as National, regimental
and battalion colors, organizational flags, guidons and streamers
of National Guard units supplied by the Federal government since
the enactment of the Militia Act of 1903. Also those heraldic
items of the California Volunteers raised for Federal service
during the Civil War and the Spanish-American War. Title to these
items remains with the United States of America in perpetuity
(10 USC 4565b, AR 870-10) and are administered by the Federal
Artifact Responsible Officer (ARO) through the US Army Museum
Those heraldic items issued to the California
Militia and National Guard by the State prior to 1903 and to
State Defense Forces organized after 1917 (i.e., Home Guard,
State Guard, State Military Reserve, etc.) remain property of
the State of California.
Captured heraldic items. These also remain
property of the United States of America and are also administered
by the ARO (United States Constitution, Article 1, Section
8, Clause 11; 10 USC 4714 and AR 870-10).
Weapons and destructive devices as defined
by the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). Privately owned and
licensed NFA controlled weapons may be loaned to regimental display
with the approval of the Curator of the US Army Museum Activity.
Those weapons not licensed with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives, US Department of Justice (BATFE) shall
be reported to the Curator immediately. These items may be accessed
to the Museum Federal collection and become property of the United
States of America unless clear title to the weapons can be determined.
Regimental activities are encouraged to
report all historic and "regimental" property to the
California State Military Museum and establish property accountability
under the museum's PastPerfect Museum Management Program. Questions
concerning this process should be directed to Mr. Dan Sebby at
(916) 854-1904, DSN 466-1904 or E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Added 22 Feb 13
Previous Regimental Systems
in the California National Guard
by Chief Warrant Officer 4 James
To better understand unit histories, one
needs to know something of the system of assigning numerical
designations to units, as those numbers tend to reappear frequently.
Knowledge of the various regimental systems is necessary to understand
the unit's Campaign Credits (known unofficially as Battle Honors).
Just prior to the Second World War, National Guard divisions
were still organized under the "square" concept of
four infantry regiments per division as it was established during
the First World War. In the meantime, Regular Army divisions
had been converted to the "triangular" format of three
infantry regiments. In reality, many of the Regular Army divisions'
regiments existed "on paper" and were one regiment
short at the time of mobilization.
When it was mobilized in 1940, the 40th
Division consisted of the 160th and 185th Infantry Regiments
in Southern California, and the 159th and 184th Infantry Regiments
in the north. These four regiments were further placed under
the control of 79th and 80th Brigades as a token intermediate
headquarters. The two brigade headquarters ceased to exist in
February 1942 when the division completed the conversion to a
"triangular" organization. However, true to tradition,
those brigade numbers returned in 1968 as the 79th and 80th Rear
Area Operations Centers (RAOC).
As a result of the reorganization, the
40th Division was excess one regiment. The first California regiment
to leave the division was the 159th Infantry Regiment. Later
the following year, the 184th Infantry Regiment was also relieved
from the 40th Infantry Division, as it was now known. It was
replaced by the 108th Infantry Regiment of the New York National
Guard. All told, there were 17 "spare" National Guard
regiments after the conversions were completed. Some of these
were used to form new divisions such as The Americal Division.
Some, such as the 184th, were used to fill out Regular Army divisions.
And finally, some were to fight the war as separate regiments.
Such was the case of the 159th Infantry Regiment (Motorized).
Reorganizations continued throughout the
war as the Army continued to modify its structures. Support elements
within the division were given a three digit number, usually
a 2, 3, 5, or 7 depending on the type of unit in front of the
division's numerical designation. Thus, the 115th Ordnance Company
became the 740th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company in 1942.
After World War II, California gained a second infantry division,
the 49th. This division would consist of the 159th, 184th, and
185th Infantry Regiments. The 40th would retain the Los Angeles
based 160th Infantry Regiment and gain two new ones, the 223rd
and 224th. Those numbers would also reappear in the 1980s as
the 223d Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist) and the 224th
Transportation Detachment (Movement Control).
Creation of the 49th brought the need
for new support units and, using the established numbering system,
the 749th Ordnance Company, later the 749th Maintenance Battalion,
appeared. Company C of that battalion later evolved as one of
the parents of the current group headquarters company. Our very
number, in the practice of retaining historical regimental numbers,
can be traced to the 115th Quartermaster Regiment of the 1930s
and early 1940s.
Knowledge of other structural changes
will help promote an understanding of the evolution of the modern
Army. Up until the late 1950s, infantry divisions retained the
"triangular" structure of three "fixed" regiments
in which the letter designated companies were organic to the
Regimental HQ Company
Company D (Heavy Weapons)
Company H (Heavy Weapons)
Company M (Heavy Weapons)
NOTE: Why is there no J
Company in the U.S. Army? The U.S. Army started lettering its
companies in 1816. Since a hand-written J looked
so much like I the letter J was not used, in order
to avoid confusion.
Armored divisions, on the other hand,
were composed of three lettered (A, B, and C) "Combat Commands"
that were completely flexible in that they had no organic units
and were assigned separate numbered battalions in the proper
mix of tanks and armored infantry for the mission given. When
the 40th Infantry Division became an armored division on 1 June
1954, there appeared separate numbered battalions such as the
161st Armored Infantry Battalion and the 133d Tank Battalion.
In 1959 a new concept emerged under the
title "Reorganizations of Army Divisions" (ROAD). The
view at the time was that "Atomic" warfare required
smaller, more flexible units. Regiments disappeared from the
divisions to be replaced by five "Battle Groups". This
was also known as the "Pentomic" concept. Armored divisions
remained unchanged since they possessed the required flexibility
The Pentomic structure of battle groups
proved to be too cumbersome for command and control and it too
disappeared on 1 March 1963 with the "Reorganization of
Combat Arms Divisions" (ROCAD). Now all divisions were organized
in a flexible triangular form, similar to that which previously
existed in armored divisions. It consisted of the three brigades
with battalions attached as needed.
There was one more change to make. The
Army decided that units needed some sense of history and tradition.
So, in 1968 regimental numbers were revived under the "Combat
Arms Regimental System" (CARS). This didn't revive the structure
of a regiment as a combat formation. But, it did provided a more
positive link to the unit's past by converting units from separately
numbered battalions to battalions of a parent "regiment".
Later, this was enhanced by the U.S. Army Regimental System.
The men of the today's 1st Battalion, 143rd Field Artillery Regiment
or 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 184th Infantry Regiment have
historical links to the soldiers of the "old" 143rd
Field Artillery and 184th Infantry Regiments.
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