Generations of soldiers have worn the 38th Infantry Division patch. Since August 25, 1917, the Cyclone Division, as the 38th is also known, represents the best of the National Guard and America, creating an atmosphere of pride in service overseas and domestically … but their story is just beginning.
The Cyclone Division, one of 18 divisions in the U.S. Army and one of eight in the National Guard, provides fully manned, equipped, trained and expertly led units prepared to deploy and conduct unified land operations for combatant commanders and to respond to any domestic crisis in support of civil authorities.
Headquartered in Indianapolis, the 38th Infantry Division has three subordinate brigades within the Hoosier State with more than 8,000 citizen-soldiers. Aligned for training, the Cyclone Division also has Army National Guard units in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee and Delaware.
As part of America’s mobilization for World War I, Guardsmen and units from Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia became the 38th Infantry Division. The 38th heraldry reflects this union with a three-leaf clover in its distinctive unit insignia.
The division earned its nickname the “Cyclone Division” after a springtime tornado damaged the unit’s World War I training area at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The division’s soldiers then deployed to France in the closing days of the “Great War,” and they primarily provided fillers for combat formations.
At the end of the war, the 38th demobilized and after a brief period of inactivity, was reconstituted and reorganized in the National Guard on March 16, 1923.
In the late 30s and early 40s, war clouds brewed in Europe as Nazi Germany invaded its neighboring countries. In preparation, the U.S. War Department ordered units to step up their training. National Guard units across the country were called to duty on a phased schedule starting in September 1940.
The 38th received word by presidential executive order that its mobilization was Jan. 17, 1941, initially for a year a service. Yet a Congressional act extended that to 18 months. Division citizen-soldiers continued their training for approximately 25 months at Camp Shelby, when they finally received orders for war-time service.
In December 1944, 38th ID soldiers arrived in southeast Asia. They were instrumental in the recapture of the Bataan Peninsula for the Allies. For their action, Gen. Douglas MacArthur named the 38th ID the “Avengers of Bataan.”
The division’s insignia also reflects their action in World War II: the lightning flashes represent the unit's participation in three campaigns in the Pacific Theater — New Guinea, Leyte, Luzon — and the arrowhead tip in the center flash represents an assault landing on Luzon.
After World War II and until present, the division went through several reorganizations, and for about a 20-year period was an all-Indiana division.
During the Vietnam War, Indiana National Guardsmen with Company D, 151st Infantry Regiment, a Ranger unit, conducted reconnaissance and intelligence-gathering missions. They conducted raids, ambushes and surveillance missions deep in enemy territory, and for their actions they received 510 medals for valor and service.
Since 9/11 to today, division soldiers continue to deploy in support of operations in southwest Asia and the Middle East including Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
All the while, division citizen-soldiers continue to serve their communities in which they live, supporting civil authorities in times of crises and natural disasters, and served stateside following 9/11 in Operation New Dawn.
Warfighter - 2015
In the previous two years, the 38th ID has supported all six geographic combatant commands.
Going back to February 2015, more than 150 soldiers with the division headquarters battalion participated in a division-level warfighter exercise at Camp Atterbury. The exercise tested their joint and combined, command and control techniques in simulated battle scenarios over nine days. They concentrated on processes and procedures to improve information flow between higher commands, subordinate units, multinational forces and other government agencies.
“You can go to classes, you can talk about it and go to seminars, you can do all sorts of training, but until you get the whole piece together, have a day and night shift, all the different working groups and cells interacting, you don’t get the training effect you need to have for real-world requirements,” said Maj. Gen. David C. Wood, 38th Infantry Division commander.
The Cyclone soldiers trained alongside more than 3,500 service members from 22 different units from the Army and Air National Guard, Army Reserve, active-duty Army and Air Force, and Canadian Forces.
Vibrant Response 2015
Also in 2015 in April, 38th ID troops took on a disaster-response mission to support civilian authorities. Originally slated for a one-year mission, the Cyclone soldiers stepped up and were on standby until the end of May 2017. If the Guardsmen had been called upon, they would have responded to a major disaster in the United States.
“We will command a multicomponent force which will consist of active-duty soldiers, United States Army Reserve soldiers, Army National Guard soldiers, all working together as one team to be effective to responding to this disaster,” said Wood in April 2015.
The standby, follow-on mission supported U.S. Northern Command. The Cyclone Division command staff coordinated missions for more than 2,000 personnel highlighting their command and control capabilities during the exercise, which simulated a nuclear detonation in a major U.S. city.
Deployments - 2015 to 2016
In addition to Vibrant Response, other real-world missions for the division soldiers included two deployments to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Kosovo and Afghanistan.
The Cuba deployments supported Southern Command, and the 38th ID troops who worked there provided command and control assets that oversaw the safe, secure, humane, legal, and transparent care and custody at the base’s detentions facilities.
Each deployment, one in November 2015 and the second in August 2016, tasked approximately 60 soldiers each to the joint base where they worked alongside sailors, airmen and Marines.
“This mission is a perfect fit for our Guardsmen,” said Indiana’s Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Courtney P. Carr, during the first group’s departure ceremony. “Being a community-based organization, we are constantly working alongside other agencies and at times with our sister services.”
The commander of the second team to Guantanamo Bay, Lt. Col. Jefferson Arnold, highlighted the importance of the National Guard and emphasized the myriad requirements facing the soldiers in preparation for the deployment during his speech at his team’s departure ceremony.
"The citizen-soldier is rarely a pure civilian in peace. The defense of our nation calls upon the reserve forces to fulfill the many obligations we face around the globe," said Arnold. "The demands on the force in a turbulent world require most of us to perform military duties each and every day, even though we only wear the uniform two days a month or two weeks a year."
It addition to the division’s headquarters battalion deploying two teams to Cuba, the division’s combat aviation brigade deployed approximately 100 soldiers in September 2016 to Kosovo in support of the NATO-led mission there. Kosovo Force contributes to a safe and secure environment that assists with the international humanitarian effort.
In January 2017, Cyclone Division deployed another 60 soldiers to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. While there in the Middle East, the Guardsmen trained, advised and assisted Afghan security forces in two provinces.
"This is an important mission because making sure the Afghan armed forces are capable of securing their country and their borders increases the security of the United States," said Carr.
Supporting U.S. Africa Command, 38th ID soldiers provided intelligence analysis work for missions carried on throughout the continent.
JRTC Prep - Summer 2016
In 2016, the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team soldiers prepared and honed their skills at Camp Atterbury on a field-training exercise designed to certify platoon proficiency in coordination with First Army. They also took part in another warfighter exercise to test their command and control techniques, react to virtual battlefield scenarios and test their interoperability with other commands.
“These events prepare units for their deployments and trains staffs to be functional and live-fire validated at platoon level,” said Col. Robert D. Burke, the 76th Brigade commander. “These two complimentary events set us up for getting trained and prepared for the combat training center.”
During the training, then 101st Airborne Division acting senior commander, U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Scott E. Brower, visited the 76th soldiers.
“We get better by working together and doing what’s best for the nation,” said Brower addressing 76th soldiers in their field headquarters. “We’re happy to be working with you.”
The division’s other brigades, the 38th Combat Aviation Brigade and 38th Sustainment Brigade were instrumental in providing support to the 76th soldiers. The sustainment soldiers also conducted their own warfighter exercise in Iowa in 2016.
In addition to the deployments, units within the 38th also supported one of Indiana’s state partners, Slovakia, during exercises in the Eastern European country.
Saber Junction - April 2017
In April, 38th Infantry Division soldiers supported U.S. Army Europe’s Operation Saber Junction in Germany. While there they acted as the higher command during the certification exercise to evaluate the readiness of a combat brigades to conduct unified-land operations, which is a simultaneous combination of offensive, defensive and stability missions. The joint and combined exercise featured the U.S. Army, U.S. Air Force and forces from Romania, Poland and Slovakia. The Guard and Reserve forces that supported U.S. Army Europe team played a vital role in boosting the land-force capability and their integration represented one of the five pillars of a strong Europe.
“From the division perspective, this is validation of our own tactical standard operating procedures," said Sgt. Maj. James Forbes, 38th ID's operations sergeant major. "We're able to utilize the assets here we would have if we were to deploy to the European theater in a real-world situation.”
JRTC Summer -2017
The division’s infantry brigade, the 76th Brigade, headquartered in Lawrence, Indiana, completed nearly a monthlong rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The training will prepare the 3,500-plus strong unit for a any combat deployment around the globe.
“This exercise allowed us to see what worked for us and what didn’t,” said Burke, the 76th Brigade commander. “As an entire brigade with a lot of enablers, we did very, very well. I think there was a lot of both personal and professional growth throughout the organization that people can take forward and learn from and use that experience to make themselves better no matter what organization they’re with.”
In addition to infantry brigade, division soldiers with the headquarters battalion and sustainment brigade assisted with or took part in the rotation. The headquarters soldiers focused on mission-command training.
“This kind of training, while we are not part of the rotation, gets us ready in collective training,” said Wood. “With limited training days and with limited training dollars, we need this collective training on the battle systems.”
Division soldiers, in a moment’s notice, responded to relief efforts for Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Hurricane Irma in Florida.
Approximately 80, 38th Infantry Division Guardsmen managed in-processing operations in southeast Texas near Bastrop, Bryan and Huntsville.
“The 38th’s mission was to deploy a mobile command post to provide movement control and reception, staging, onward movement and integration for deploying units from home station to the Texas National Guard,” said Lt. Col. James Babbitt, the operations officer for the mission.
The Guardsmen from Indiana replaced Texas Guardsmen so that they could focus on their personal recovery efforts.
“There were many Texas National Guardsmen who were or have family that was affected by Hurricane Harvey,” said Babbitt.
For Hurricane Irma relief efforts, approximately 100 Cyclone Guardsmen provided command, control and coordination oversight. It involved many tasks where the 38th soldiers excel.
"I think we are proficient at this because it's a core competency at what we do," said Brig. Gen. Gordon Ellis, a 38th ID deputy commanding general. "It's what we trained to do, and we've gained the expertise to function in that role in some fairly challenging environments."
The operational tempo for all Cyclone Division soldiers remains high in its centennial year, and its soldiers remain focused on the future.
Upcoming missions and deployments include Pacific Pathways, a multinational, show-of-force exercise, scheduled for 2018 for the division’s 76th Infantry Brigade. Its soldiers are also slated for Lighting Forge in Hawaii, Hamel in Australia, Garada Shield in Indonesia and Orient Shield in Japan.
Scheduled deployments include one for the 38th Sustainment Brigade to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield. The division’s headquarters and the 638th Aviation Support Battalion are also scheduled for a deployment to support Spartan Shield in 2019. Prior to that division soldiers will be engaged in a warfighter exercise slated for February 2018.
The division, like many others within the U.S. Army celebrated its 100th anniversary this year, and soldiers kicked it off with a ball last October in Indianapolis. Cyclone Division soldiers are committed and look forward to being an integral part of the National Guard and U.S. Army for generations to come.