Army Halts Deactivation of 2nd Armored Division
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The face-off in the Middle East has brought a reprieve for the 2nd Armored Division, the tank unit that Gen. George S. Patton led to fame in World War II.
The Army began deactivating the division at Fort Hood two months ago because peace seemed assured in Europe and because of looming cuts in the defense budget.
But the Pentagon has called the deactivation to a halt and ordered the division’s remaining soldiers, with their M1 Abrams tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, to prepare to join Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia, Fort Hood spokeswoman Liz Crossan said Monday.
About 2,300 of the division’s 12,000 members have pulled out since the Army began the deactivation in June, she said.
″As the situation in the Middle East develops, the Department of the Army is going to review the 2nd Armored Division and make a decision regarding any further deactivation,″ Crossan said.
The division lost about 500 soldiers in June, 800 in July and 900 last week, she said. The rest were to be deactivated by September 1991.
The Army hasn’t decided whether the restore the unit to full force, said Army spokesman Capt. David Roth in Washington.
The Pentagon says elements of the 2nd Armored Division and the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood will soon join the United States’ massive military response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait.
The armored division was formed in July 1940 to fight in World War II.
Led by Patton, the 2nd Armored was the first allied unit to enter Belgium, helped win the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944 and was the first American unit to enter Berlin on July 4. 1945. Parts of the division also fought in the Korean War and in Vietnam.
Later, Elvis Presley served in the 2nd Armored.
It moved to central Texas in 1946, when Fort Hood was called Camp Hood.
Monday’s announcement offered temporary relief to community leaders worried that the loss of 12,000 soldiers and 30,000 civilians would devastate the region’s economy.
Retired Gen. Robert Shoemaker, a Bell County commissioner and a board member of the community group Keep Hood Alive and Kicking Inc., said he was relieved.
The group failed last week to get a court order halting the deactivation.
″All that KHAKI really wanted was for the Army to look long-range,″ Shoemaker said.