The 18th Fires Brigade (Airborne) History
The 18th Field Artillery Brigade was transformed into 18th Fires Brigade on 13 June 2007. The 18th Field Artillery Brigade was activated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, XVIII Corps Artillery on 9 October 1943 at Camp Cook, California. During World War II, the brigade participated in numerous land battles and campaigns in Europe and Italy. At the time of its entry into the war, the brigade was headquartered at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. During WWII, the brigade consisted of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Observation Battalionhome 1-321st AFAR and 583rd Forward Support Company., 173rd Field Artillery Battalion, 932nd Field Artillery Battalion, 933rd Field Artillery Battalion, 936th Field Artillery Battalion, 937th Field Artillery Battalion, 938th Field Artillery Battalion, and 985th Field Artillery Battalion. While in Europe, the brigade was assigned to Fifth Army and participated in the Ardennes-Alsace (1943), Rhineland (1945), and Central Europe (1945) campaigns.
At the conclusion of the war, the brigade was deactivated on 15 October at Camp Campbell, Kentucky. On 1 May 1951, the brigade was designated as Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery, and was activated on 21 May 1951 at Fort Bragg. The brigade was later reorganized and redesigned as HHB, 18th Field Artillery Brigade on 16 May 1978.
In August 1990 the brigade, consisting of 3rd Battalion, 8th Field Artillery; 5th Battalion, 8th FA; and 1st Battalion, 39th FA, was alerted at Fort Bragg and deployed over the next several weeks to Southwest Asia by air from Pope Air Force Base and by sea from Wilmington, NC. On 17 January 1991, the brigade began the execution of a 20-hour, 250-kilometer move from their TAA to AA Olive. The brigade’s mission was to support the French 6th Light Armored Division on the western flank of XVIII Airborne Corps.
The cannon battalions fired on enemy observation posts inside Iraq, while 3rd Battalion, 27th FA (then part of XVIII Airborne Corps Artillery) was used in preparatory attacks on Iraqi front line units and to suppress enemy artillery. On 23 February 1991, the brigade moved into Iraq and occupied positions to fire the artillery preparation that would initiate the ground combat against the Iraqi 45th Infantry Division at objective Rochambeau. On 26 February 1991, the brigade’s mission changed to reinforcing the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) Artillery in attacks toward Al Basrah. On the morning of 28 February 1991, the brigade participated in the final destruction of the Hammurabi Armored Division, part of the Republican Guard Forces, helping to bring about the end of the "100 Hours War.”
Since 1991, elements of the brigade have participated in numerous training, security, and humanitarian deployments around the world, to include hurricane relief, wildfire fighting operations, and security Missions to Eastern Europe and Southwest Asia. In 2003, the brigade supported the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) by deploying all four battalions, two Field Artillery Detachments, and elements of the brigade headquarters to both Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
In April 2003, 3rd Battalion (Multiple Launch Rocket System), 27th FAR, deployed supporting the 1st Marine Div in eastern Iraq. In November 2003, 3rd Battalion, 321st FAR, deployed to Afghanistan as an infantry battalion in support of OEF Provincial Reconstruction Teams and conducted site security missions. The Army’s Transformation initiative first affected the brigade with the deactivation of 1st Field Artillery Detachment (ABN) on 1 May 2004.
In September 2005, the brigade began a series of deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2005-2007. The brigade headquarters deployed to Tikrit to support the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) by serving as the Force Field Artillery Headquarters for the Division. Three of the brigade’s four battalions also deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 2005-2007 to conduct in lieu of missions. 1st Battalion (ABN), 321st FAR, deployed the battalion headquarters to Mosul, Iraq, to serve as the Rear Area Operations Center (RAOC). 3rd Battalion, 321st FAR, deployed to Abu Ghraib to serve as the RAOC for the prison, and eventually moved the prison facility to its current location. 1st Battalion, 377th FAR (Air Assault), deployed the battalion headquarters to Taji to serve as the mayor’s cell.
In addition to the brigade and battalion headquarters, eight firing batteries from the brigade deployed as gun truck batteries in support of 3rd Corp Support Command. Alpha Battery, 1-321st FAR, deployed to Mosul as part of the 142nd Corps Support Battalion (CSB). Bravo and Charlie Batteries of 1-321st FAR deployed to Tikrit as part of 561st CSB. Alpha Battery, 1-377th FAR, deployed to Al Aasd in support of 553 CSB. Bravo Battery, 1-377th FAR supported the 18th CSB in Southern Baghdad while Charlie Battery supported the 189th CSB in Northern Baghdad. Finally, Alpha and Charlie Battery, 3rd Battalion, 321st FAR, supported the 181st Transportation Battalion out of Balad. All units of the Brigade returned home between September and November 2006. In March of 2006, 3rd Battalion, 27th FAR (Mobility Launch Rocket System) deployed two platoons to Afghanistan in support of OEF. This mission turned into an enduring mission and two platoons of Alpha Battery replaced the initial platoons of Bravo Battery in September 2006.
As of 16 July 2008, the 82nd Airborne Division assumed training, readiness, and oversight of the brigade. Today, the brigade is comprised of 1st Battalion, 321st AFAR, the Army’s only airborne 155mm howitzer battalion; 3rd Battalion, 321st FAR; 3rd Battalion, 27th FAR (High Mobility Artillery Rocket System), D/26 Target Acquisition Battery; 188th Brigade Support Battalion; 206th Signal Co; and HHB, 18th Fires Brigade (ABN). The assigned units of the 18th Fires Brigade give it not only several unique capabilities, but also make it the largest and most diverse Fires Brigade in the U.S. Army.