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2nd Infantry Division - US Army

Though formed before the Korean war, the 2nd Infantry Division was a pivotal during the Korean conflict.

With the outbreak of hostilities in Korea during the summer of 1950, the 2d Inf. Div. was alerted for movement to the Far East. The division arrived in Korea via Pusan on July 23, becoming the first unit to reach Korea directly from the United States. Initially employed piecemeal, the entire division was committed to relieve the 24th Infantry Division at the Naktong River Line on Aug. 24, 1950. The 2d Inf. Div. was the first unit to break out of the Pusan perimeter. It later led the Eighth Army's drive to the Manchurian border. When Chinese forces entered the fight, soldiers of the 2nd Inf. Div. protected the rear flank of the Eighth Army as it retired to the south. In April and May 1951, the 2d Inf. Div. was instrumental in smashing the communist spring offensive. On April 9, 1953, the division was moved to a rear area, and on Aug. 20, 1954 -- four years after its last unit had arrived in Korea - - the 2nd Inf. Div. re-deployed to the United States. - globalsecurity.org

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Korean war, the communist North Korea obliterated the inadequate South Korean forces and completely occupied the Korean peninsula. South Korean forces setup a perimeter around a small area in the southeastern corner of the peninsula as a last stand effort. A message was sent to the US president by South Korea's president. "They are trying to make slaves of us, but we won't be taken slaves again."(paraphrase) General Douglas MacArthur went ashore to assess the situation and decide whether or not to commit US troops. On the coast he met a South Korean soldier manning a guard post along the shore. This is a paraphrase of the short conversation they had:

MacArthur: What are you doing?

Korean Soldier: Guarding my post.

MacArthur: And what will you do if North Korea breaks through to here?

Korean Soldier: Then I will defend my post until my last breath.

This conversation had a profound impact on MacArthur, and soon after that he agreed to commit the United States to the Korean conflict.


Known as the Warrior Division, the 2nd Infantry Division is the key American combat force on the peninsula of Korea.

The Division motto is Second to none, Fight tonight. It's mission is to maintain warfighting proficiency as a deterrence and transition to war in response to North Korean aggression.

The Warrior Division is often called the most forward deployed, lethal, and combat ready division in the world. In peace, it maintains combat power by rigorous training and field time. In war, it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with our South Korean allies in the first echelon of defense immediately south of the DMZ, or 38th Parallel.

2ID is composed of the following units:

  • 1st "Iron" Brigade - Camp Casey
  • 2nd Brigade "Strike Force" - Deployed to Iraq in 2004
  • 3rd Brigade "Arrowhead Brigade" - Stryker Brigade, Fort Lewis
  • DIVARTY "Warrior Thunder" - Division Artillery, considered to largest and most lethal in the Army
  • Aviation Brigade - Three Apache Battallions
  • Engineer Brigade - Three Engineer Battallions
  • DISCOM - Composed of numerous support battallions

  • In addition to these large units, there are numerous small support companies and MI units.


    Now I'll level with you. A lot of guys come to Korea and aren't impressed. The combat arms units such as 4-7Cav and 2-9Inf are tough units with a good state of readiness. My experiences are slightly different. I was first assigned to the 2nd Military Police company. These MPs were combat MPs first, then had additional law enforcement duties in and around the Camp area. We worked hard, and played hard, but were plagued with leadership problems and extremely low morale. Now I've been reassigned to the 4th Chemical Company. This Chemical company's job is to decontaminate Americans and our allies in the event that weapons of mass destruction are used against us in war. This means lots of time spent in full chemical gear and protective mask. I'm in the 4th Decontamination platoon, so that's what we do. We decon. We also have an NBC reconnaisance platoon, and a smoke platoon (provides smoke on the battlefield, to obscure operations). This unit is plagued with the same problems as any support unit in a combat division. A lot of soldiers in support units such as this feel they have something to prove, and walk around yelling with their chests stuck out. They pump themselves up, and stress about childish things. Things in units like this are usually totally by the book, and it makes things annoying and childish. I live on Camp Casey now, and am moving to Camp Hovey to the Battle Troops Battallion.

    I feel that in wartime, the 2nd Infantry Division would execute its mission with extreme discipline, but all this sitting around in seclusion from the rest of the world means this division has a sort of stale feel. We frequently have problems with old equipment, and getting supplies, because everything is diverted to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    For soldiers, a tour in 2ID means hardship. You are secluded, there is a curfew 7 days a week, 365 days a year, frequent division alerts (practice for when the DPRK crosses the line), and strict dress code and conduct rules. This division is one of the most strict in the Army. Not to mention the boredom and seclusion. It's a hard tour, but a good place to learn warfighting skills and make rank. Lots of soldiers come here to take a break from the deployment cycle, but that doesn't help the absence of family and a social life. 2ID has the highest rate of alcohol related incidents in the entire Army. They say the quickest way to make Specialist is to come to 2ID as a Sergeant. Also, the male to female ratio is something like 10:1 or worse.

    For a better breakdown of 2IDs structure, visit this website.

    Also, 2ID is in transition. Right now, the plan is to pull 2ID off the border and further south, and even so far as to leave the peninsula. Right now, the remaining combat arms units are restructuring into the Army's new system called a Unit of Action, or Unit of Execution. It's a modular structure system for maneuvering combat units.

    Originally formed during World War I in France as part of the American Expeditionary Force, the Second Division was unique in that it contained both Army units -the 9th and 23rd Infantry Regiments in the Third Brigade- and Marines -the 5th and 6th Marine Regiments, in the 4th Marine Brigade. The division was also commanded by Marine Corps generals twice during World War I, the only time in American history when Marine officers commanded an Arny division. One of these Marine generals, Major General John Archer Lejeune (for whom the Marine base Camp Lejeune is named) would lead the division from July 1918 until it returned to the United States in 1919. The Second was committed to battle in the spring of 1918 despite French evaluators rating it as unprepared for combat; it was thrown into the Battle of Belleau Wood in a desperate attempt to halt the German offensive's drive on Paris, and continued on to help break the longstanding stalemate of the Western Front in the Chateau-Thierry campaign that followed. After General Lejeune assumed command, the division went on to win victories at Soissons, Blanc Mont, and finally the Meuse-Argonne offensive. Following the armistice, the Second Division took up occupation duties in Germany until April 1919; it returned to the United States in July 1919. The division was awarded the Croix de Guerre three times for gallantry, which entitles all members of its component units to wear the fourragere. This forced a change to the dress uniform for Navy corpsmen assigned to the Fifth and Sixth Marines; a shoulder strap was added to the uniform so that they could wear the fourragere, the only Navy personnel allowed to do so.

    The Second Division was one of three Regular Army divisions preserved intact after the war and was based at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. As part of America's mobilization prior to World War II, the division was the first to reorganize from the "square" (two brigades with two two-battalion regiments each) structure to the "triangular" structure, which gave the division three regiments with three battalions each. For the next three years the division would be engaged in training and maneuvers before shipping out to England in October 1943, engaging in more training, and finally landing at Omaha Beach on D-Day plus 1, July 7 1944. The division was part of the exploitation force that took advantage of the St. Lo breakout, and subsequently took part in the siege of Brest, which lasted until September 1944. The Second was peripherally involved in the Battle of the Bulge, and later advanced into the Rhineland; it would continue further into Germany, taking Gottingen on April 8, 1945, Merseburg a week later, and Leipzig on the 18th of April. After withdrawing its pickets from across the Mulde River, the division moved 200 miles to positions on the Czech/German border, from which it advanced to take Pilsen on VE Day.

    Returning to New York on July 20, 1945, the Second moved to Camp Swift in Texas and began training for its role in Operation Coronet, the projected final invasion of Japan. When Coronet was canceled in March of 1946, the division moved instead to its new home base at Fort Lewis, Washington, where they engaged in arctic, air transport, and amphibious, and maneuver training.

    The Second Division was alerted for movement when the Korean War broke out, and arrived at Pusan on July 23, 1950, the first unit to arrive straight from the United States. At first the division was used in a piecemeal fashion, but on August 24th it was committed to action as a unit, relieving the 24th Division at the Naktong River line. The North Korean army struck hard a week later, launching a desperate human wave attack on August 31, and over the next sixteen days the Second committed its office clerks, bandsmen, technicians and supply clerks to the defense and eventually prevailed. The Second was also the first unit to break out of the Pusan Perimeter, and would lead the Eighth Army on its drive to the Manchurian border. It would get to within fifty miles of the border when the Chinese attacked in November 1950, driving back the U.S. and ROK forces. Again the Second was called on; this time it would be tasked with the vital mission of covering the rear and right flank of the Eighth Army as it retreated back to South Korea. The bitter fighting in the Arctic cold cost the division a third of its strength in the battle of Kunu-ri and the subsequent retreat through the "Gauntlet", including the attached Turkish Brigade. After integrating replacements, the Second returned to the line, blunting the Chinese winter offensive at Wonju on January 31; in turn, the division went on the attack in February 1951, reinforced by the French battalion, and would play a prominent role in smashing the Chinese Spring Offensive in April and May, for which actions it was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation. Alternating periods of combat and rest followed until the division was withdrawn for good in April 1954 and redeployed to Fort Lewis in August 1954, four years after its first elements had arrived in Korea. During its first tour in Korea, the Second Division suffered over seven thousand combat deaths, the highest total of any Army division in this century.

    The Indianhead Division remained at Fort Lewis for only two years before moving to Alaska in August 1956. It was to be deactivated in November 1957, but in the spring of 1958 was instead reconstituted at Fort Benning with personnel and equipment from the 10th Mountain Division, which had been withdrawn from Germany. The Second remained at Fort Benning as a training division until March 1962, when it was transferred to the Strategic Army Corps and underwent additional training to improve operational readiness. In July of 1965, its units were transferred to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) at the same time that the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea was reflagged as the Second Infantry Division. The Second Division has remained in South Korea since that time as the main American ground force in South Korea, although since 2005 only one mechanized brigade (plus artillery, aviation, and divisional support assets) has actually remained in the ROK, with the rest of the division based at Fort Lewis. Interestingly, the division contains 1,100 KATUSA augmentees, South Korean soldiers who are part of the division.

    As part of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the 2nd Infantry Division deployed from Korea to Iraq in August 2004, initially being assigned to the area around Fallujah. but later being moved to Ramadi, where in an interesting twist on the unit's history, it was attached to the First and Second Marine Divisions successively. This entitles soldiers from the 2/2 BCT to wear combat patches from either the 2nd ID or one of the two Marine divisions. The 3/2 BCT in was deployed to Nineveh in June 2006; the 4/2 BCT was deployed in April 2007. The 2/2 BCT returned to Iraq in October 2006, this time attached to the 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad.

    In addition to its Iraq deployments, the division also sent the 5/2 BCT to Afghanistan in February 2009.

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