Military Wiki
45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team
The “Thunderbird” is an Indian symbol meaning sacred bearer of happiness unlimited.
Shoulder sleeve insignia
Active 1968 – present
Country United States United States of America
Branch Army National Guard
Type Infantry brigade combat team
Role Infantry, unit training
Size Brigade
Part of Oklahoma Army National Guard
Garrison/HQ Norman, Oklahoma
Nickname(s) Thunderbird (special designation)[1]
Motto(s) Semper Anticus
Latin: "Always Forward"[2]
Distinctive unit insignia The DUI of the 45th IBCT is one of only a few that are authorized a mirror image.

The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team ("Thunderbird"[1]) is a modular infantry brigade combat team of the United States Army headquartered in Norman, Oklahoma. It is a part of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.

Formed from elements of the disbanded 45th Infantry Division which saw action during World War II and the Korean War, along with the 45th Field Artillery Group (today's 45th Fires Brigade) and 90th Troop Command,[3][4] the 45th Infantry Brigade was activated in 1968 and assigned to training duties for active duty army units until 1994 when the 45th was selected as one of 15 "enhanced brigades". The brigade deployed as part of the UN peacekeeping force in the wake of the Bosnian War, with C Company, 1-179th Infantry being among the first National Guard units to see duty there. In 2003, A Co 1-179 deployed to Saudi Arabia while B 1-179 deployed to Kuwait to provide security for Patriot missile sites. During the invasion of Iraq, B Co 1-179 pushed North of Baghdad establishing a foothold in Taji Iraq. Later that year, the 45th deployed to Afghanistan to train soldiers of the Afghan National Army which was followed by a deployment to Iraq to assist in the turning over of American military bases to Iraqi forces. A second brigade deployment to Afghanistan in 2011 assigned the brigade to full-spectrum operations for the first time since the 1950s.

The brigade received all heraldry, lineage and honors from the 45th Infantry Division, including its shoulder sleeve insignia and campaign streamers for combat in World War II and Korea. It has since received several of its own decorations for participation in the subsequent conflicts.


The brigade is a subordinate unit of the Oklahoma Army National Guard, headquartered in Norman, OK.[5] The brigade commands six battalions.[6] These units are the 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, 700th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, 160th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment, and 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion.[5]

45th Infantry Division[]

The history of the 45th Brigade Combat Team can be traced back to 1890 with the formation of the Militia of the Territory of Oklahoma.[5] That militia was mobilized in 1898 during the Spanish American War but never deployed. In 1916 the First Oklahoma Infantry Regiment deployed for border security duty during the Mexican Border Conflict. In 1917, the First Oklahoma Infantry Regiment, reassigned as part of the 142nd Infantry Regiment of the 36th Division fought in the final month of World War I.[5]

On 19 October 1920, the Oklahoma State militia was organized as the 45th Infantry Division of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and organized with troops from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.[7] The division was organized and federally recognized as a US Army unit on 3 August 1923 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.[2] Prior to World War II, the division was called on many times to maintain order in times of disaster and to keep peace during periods of political unrest. Oklahoma Governor John C. Walton used division troops to prevent the State Legislature from meeting when they were preparing to impeach him in 1923. Governor William H. Murray called out the guard several times during the depression to close banks, distribute food and once to force the State of Texas to keep open a free bridge over the Red River which Texas intended to collect tolls for, even after federal courts ordered the bridge not be opened. The division would go on to see combat in World War II as one of four national guard divisions active during the war.[5] The division was active for over five years, participating in eight campaigns, four amphibious assaults, for a total of 511 days of combat.[5] Following World War II the division became an all-Oklahoma organization. In 1950, the division was also called into service during the Korean War, participating in four campaigns and fighting for 429 days.[5]

Cold War years[]

In 1968, the division was disbanded and the 45th Infantry Brigade (Separate) was formed in its place.[8] The 45th Brigade assumed all of the 45th Division's lineage and campaign participation credit, including its shoulder sleeve insignia featuring a Thunderbird, a common Native American symbol, as a tribute to the south-western United States region which had a large population of Native Americans.[9] The brigade also assumed the division's nickname, "Thunderbirds".[10] The division's three subordinate brigades were disbanded as a part of the organization, and were not affiliated with the 45th Infantry Brigade (Separate).[11] The brigade's headquarters was subsequently relocated to Edmond, Oklahoma.[8] In 1971 the brigade received its distinctive unit insignia.[9]

The brigade did not participate in any overseas operations through the 1970s or 1980s, as the size of the active duty force negated the need for National Guard formations to be deployed during the relatively small contingencies of that period. Instead, the brigade was used to train active duty units, and other general peacetime missions within the United States.[5] In 1991, the brigade became affiliated with the 1st Cavalry Division, providing training services for the division soldiers.[6]

Desert Storm[]

On 19 September 1990 the 2120ths Supply and Service Company located in Wewoka, Oklahoma was called up for active duty in support of Desert Shield. This was the first of fourteen units from the 45th called up in support of the action. Many of the units were sent to Saudi Arabia to provide support for the regular army in Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Enhanced brigade[]

In 1994, the brigade was selected as one of fifteen "enhanced" separate brigades of the Army National Guard, featuring authorization to recruit 10% above required manning levels and a requirement to attend one of the Combat Training Centers not less than once every eight years, and ready to deploy within 90 days in case of emergencies.[5][12] In 1997, the brigade was integrated under the command structure of the 7th Infantry Division, allowing the 7th Division to provide oversight and support for the brigade's activities should it be deployed, and potentially command and control when deployed, but that was never tested.[6] In 1996, the brigade's garrison was relocated back to Oklahoma City.[7]

In 2000–2001 several hundred soldiers of the brigade were deployed to Bosnia in support of NATO forces seeking to stabilize the country in the wake of the Bosnian War. Soldiers of the brigade were among the first National Guard units to see front-line patrolling duty in the conflict, a job held exclusively by active duty units until that time.[13]

The brigade trained for a rotation in the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana throughout 2000 and 2001, before deploying to the center throughout 2002 and early 2003.[6] The brigade received praise from center commanders as performing the mission better than many brigades before it.[6] After its rotation, the brigade trained the 39th Infantry Brigade of the Arkansas Army National Guard, which saw the next rotation in the JRTC. The 39th Brigade was also under the command of the 7th Infantry Division.[6]

Iraq and Afghanistan[]

In January 2003, components of the 45th Infantry Brigade were deployed to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Approximately 230 light infantry soldiers from A Company and B Company, 1st Battalion, 179th Infantry Regiment comprised Task Force Ironhorse under the United States Army Central Command (ARCENT).[14][15] Their primary mission leading up to the invasion of Iraq was to provide security for Patriot missile sites defending the respective countries from impending SCUD missile attacks.[15] In March 2003, Company A was ordered from the area in and around Riyadh to the northern border cities of Tabuk and Arar, Saudi Arabia in defense of Iraqi retaliation and security of strategically redeployed Patriot Missile sites. Company B was ordered to advance into Iraq from the Kuwaiti border to provide security for ammo caches and forward operating Patriot missile sites. Task Force Ironhorse was the first deployment of Oklahoma National Guard soldiers to a combat zone since the Korean War. Task Force Ironhorse completed their mission and returned in August 2003. A Company, 1/179 Infantry was the last mission-oriented light infantry unit from the United States to set foot in Saudi Arabia.[citation needed]

In fall of 2003, the 45th Infantry Brigade was deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, assuming command of Task Force Phoenix II from 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division.[6] The purpose of the soldiers' deployment was to assist in training Afghan security forces. Over the next few years, soldiers of the 45th Infantry Brigade, including its Headquarters and Headquarters Company, would deploy in support of this mission. In April 2004, 350 soldiers from the brigade's 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry Regiment also deployed to Joint Task Force Phoenix.[6] During this rotation, the brigade grew the size of the Afghan National Army to over 14,000 as well as fielding a corps-sized force ahead of schedule.[16] In August 2004, the brigade was replaced in this mission by the 76th Infantry Brigade, and subsequently returned home to the United States.[16] The brigade spent three years back home, and in that time transformed into an infantry Brigade Combat Team as a part of a new transformation plan for the Army.[17]

In March 2006, the 180th Cavalry (still infantry in '06) deployed as part of Task Force Phoenix V. They were attached to the 41st BCT (Oregon ARNG). They returned in June 2007. In April 2007, the brigade was alerted that it could be deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom by the end of the year. Four months later they were alerted that they would be heading to Iraq in 2008.[17] The brigade mobilized in October of that year and trained in infantry techniques at army posts in Oklahoma and Arkansas. The 39th Infantry Brigade was also alerted for deployment during this time[17] and deployed to Iraq in late 2007.[18] During its rotation, the brigade was charged with turning over military facilities and Forward Operating Bases to the Iraqi Army as well as the Iraqi Police Force. The brigade returned to the United States in October 2008.[18] The 45th IBCT deployed to Afghanistan in 2011 and reunited with the 201st Corps of the ANA, as partners this time, in combined combat operations against insurgent forces in Eastern Afghanistan[19] suffering the loss of 14 Soldiers[20] but making significant pregress in disrupting and destroying insurgnet operations while continuing to mentor the ANA and progressively handing off security missions to them. The full brigade mobilized in April 2011, but a late change in the mission diverted the 180th Cavalry and 160th Field Artillery to separate missions to support Iraq operations from Kuwait. Additionally, elements of the 45th Brigade have deployed to Egypt (1–180th Infantry Multinational Force and Observers (MFO)), Kuwait (245th Military Intelligence Co OIF), and for separate rotations to Iraq (245th Engineer Co OIF) and Afghanistan (1–180th Infantry Task Force Phoenix V) as well as various homeland security missions.

List of Brigade Commanders[]

  • MG David C. Matthews 1 February 1968 to 30 June 1970
  • BG George M. Donovan 1 July 1970 to 11 September 1973
  • BG James C. Duaghtery 12 September 1973 to 31 January 1976
  • BG Buster E. Smith 1 February 1976 to 24 June 1978
  • BG Lawrence F. Roy 25 June 1978 to 30 June 1983
  • BG Curtis W. Miligan 1 July 1983 to 15 February 1984
  • BG James J. Wasson 16 February to 28 August 1987
  • BG Donald G. Smith 29 August 1987 to 13 March 1991
  • BG Allan F. Mc Gilbra 14 March 1991 to 6 Devember 1993
  • BG James R. Walker 7 Devember 1994 to 10 February 1995
  • BG Bradley D. Gambill 11 February 1995 to 10 July 1998
  • BG Jerry W. Grizzle 11 July 1998 to 12 May 2001
  • BG Thomas P. Mancino 13 May 2001 to 2 December 2004
  • BG Myles L. Deering 3 December 2004 to 12 November 2008
  • COL Lawrence I. Fleishman 13 November 2008 to 5 February 2010
  • COL Joel P. Ward 6 February 2010 to 2 June 2012
  • COL Van L. Kinchen 3 June 2012 to Present


The brigade received all of the honors previously accorded to the 45th Infantry Division, including its campaign streamers, which give credit for participation in combat. Additionally, several of these streamers contain the Arrowhead device, signifying the division's participation in amphibious assaults.[8]

Campaign streamers[]

Conflict Streamer Year(s)
World War II Sicily (with Arrowhead) 1943
Naples-Foggia (with Arrowhead) 1943
Anzio 1943
Rome-Arno 1944
Southern France (with Arrowhead) 1944
Rhineland 1944–1945
Ardennes-Alsace 1944–1945
Central Europe 1945
Korean War Second Korean Winter 1951–1952
Korea, Summer-Fall 1952 1952
Third Korean Winter 1952–1953
Korea, Summer 1953 1953
Global War on Terror (OEF) Afghanistan, Consolidation I 2003–2004, 2006
(OIF) Liberation of Iraq 2003
(OEF) Afghanistan, Consolidation II 2006–2007
(OIF) Iraq Surge 2007–2008
(OEF) Afghanistan, Consolidation III 2011
(OEF) Afghanistan, Transition I 2011–2012
(OND) Operation New Dawn 2011–2012

Unit decorations[]

Ribbon Award Year Notes
Korean Presidential Unit Citation.png Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation 1952—1953 for service in Korea
Croix de guerre 1939-1945 with palm.jpg French Croix de guerre (With Palm) 1945 for service in WWII (Acquafondata)


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Special Designation Listing". United States Army Center of Military History. 21 April 2010. Archived from the original on 9 June 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2010. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Wilson, p. 663.
  3. Talley, Tim. "Legislature Honors 45th Infantry Brigade". Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  4. "Home At Last--National Guardsmen Return Home". 12 April 2012. Retrieved 9 July 2012. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 "45th Infantry Brigade Homepage: History". 45th Infantry Brigade. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 6.7 " 45th Infantry Brigade". GlobalSecurity. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 McGrath, p. 234.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Wilson, p. 664.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "The Institute of Heraldry: 45th Infantry Brigade". The Institute of Heraldry. Archived from the original on 22 June 2008. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  10. "Army National Guard Special Designation Listing". United States Army Center of Military History. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  11. McGrath, p. 202.
  12. Merridith, Bill. "Enhanced Brigade Readiness Improves but Personnel and Workload Problems". US General Accounting Office. 
  13. " 30th Infantry Brigade". GlobalSecurity. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  14. "Combined Forces Land Component command CFLCC". Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  15. 15.0 15.1 "State's military leaders prepare for larger deployment". The Daily Oklahoman. Retrieved 14 November 2009. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 "Hoosiers Replace Sooners in Afghan Mission". Defend America News. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 "45th Infantry troops mobilized for Iraq duty". Army Times. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Governor's Welcome Home". Oklahoma State Government. Retrieved 3 May 2009. 
  19. Goble, Leslie (25 January 2012). "45th Infantry joined forces with Afghan National Army to disrupt insurgency in the Nurilam Valley". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 
  20. "45th Infantry in Afghanistan". Tulsa World. Archived from the original on 5 February 2013. Retrieved 12 June 2012. 


External links[]

This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).