The First United States Army was activated in France on Aug. 10, 1918, under the command of Gen. John J. Pershing. As America’s first numbered army, First Army engaged in two major operations – the reduction of the St. Mihiel Salient, east of Verdun, and the great Meuse-Argonne offensive, west of Verdun.
After World War I ended and after a short period of occupation in Europe, First Army was deactivated in 1919. Reactivated at Fort Jay, N.Y. in 1933, First Army’s new mission of training and readiness matched today’s mission.
On D-Day, June 6, 1944, with Gen. Omar N. Bradley commanding, First Army’s troops landed on Omaha and Utah beaches in Normandy. First Army established an impressive record of ‘firsts’ in World War II including first on beaches of Normandy and first into Paris. After World War II, First U.S. Army headquarters was on Governor’s Island, N.Y.
On Jan. 1, 1966, First and Second Armies merged and First Army headquarters moved to Fort George G. Meade, Md. In 1973, First Army transitioned from an active army organization to one dedicated to improving the readiness of the Reserve Components.
Once again, in 1983, reorganization took place. Second U.S. Army was reactivated at Fort Gillem, Ga., and assumed responsibility for Reserve Component matters in seven states and two territories formerly belonging to First Army.
In 1991, Fourth U.S. Army was deactivated and its seven mid-western states became part of First Army.
In 1995, First Army left Fort Meade, Md., and was reorganized at Fort Gillem, Ga., On January 16, 2006, First Army’s mission expanded to include the training, readiness oversight, and mobilization for all U.S. Army Reserve and Army National Guard units within the continental United States and two U.S. territories. First Army assumed authority from Fifth Army, which was transforming into U.S. Army North – assuming nationwide responsibility for homeland security.
With its new role, First Army developed two subordinate multi-component headquarters – one division to support the eastern United States and the other to support the western United States. First Army Division West was activated at Fort Carson, Colo. Today the headquarters is located at Fort Hood, Texas. First Army Division East was activated on March 7, 2007, and is headquartered at Fort George G. Meade, Md.
First Army Division East was established by Department of the Army Permanent Order 156-7 to provide training and readiness oversight, and mobilization operations for an area of responsibility spanning 27 states and territories east of the Mississippi River. The division’s mission is to provide trained and ready forces to combatant commanders for worldwide military operations. The multi-component division is comprised of nearly 6,000 Active Duty, Reserve Component, National Guard Soldiers, and civilians – all working to man, equip, train, and deploy U.S. Army and sister service forces.
The division is organized into eight brigades located throughout the eastern United States with 52 total battalions. Division East currently operates three mobilization training centers located at Camp Atterbury, Ind., Camp Shelby, Miss., and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.