86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team


86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain)
86th BCT (MTN).jpg
CountryUnited States
BranchUnited States Army
Nickname(s)The Vermont Brigade (special designation)[1]
Anniversaries30 June 1921
DecorationsPhilippine Presidential Unit Citation, Streamer embroidered 17 October 1944 to 4 July 1945 (Headquarters and Headquarters Company)
Colonel Brey Hopkins (since June 2020)
Leonard F. Wing
Wayne H. Page
Bruce M. Lawlor
Thomas E. Drew
Combat service identification badge (CSIB)
US Army 86th Inf Bde CSIB.png
Former CSIB
10th Mountain Division CSIB.jpg

The 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) ("The Vermont Brigade"[1]) is an Army National Guard light infantry brigade headquartered in Vermont.[2] It was reorganized from an armored brigade into an Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) as part of the United States Army's transformation for the 21st century. The 86th IBCT utilizes the Army Mountain Warfare School, co-located at Ethan Allen Firing Range in Jericho, Vermont, to train in individual military mountaineering skills so the entire brigade can be skilled in such warfare. This large conventional unit level mountain warfare capability had been lost when the 10th Mountain Division deactivated after World War II. This left the 86th IBCT as the only mountain warfare unit in the U.S. military and those trained in mountain warfare capabilities to individual soldiers who graduated from Ranger School, the Special Forces Advanced Mountain Operations School, and the Army Mountain Warfare School instead of entire units that specialized in such tactics; that is until "The Vermont Brigade" configured itself to be such a unit.


The United States Army reorganized in the 1920s, following World War I. This reorganization included maintaining honors and legacy by reusing unit names for units deactivated after the war as designations for smaller formations. The 86th Infantry Brigade thus carried on the name of the 86th Infantry Division, and the 172nd Infantry Regiment, allocated to Vermont, carried on the designation of the 172nd Infantry Brigade, one of the 86th Division's subordinate brigades during the war.[3][4][5] The 86th Infantry Brigade, made up of the 172nd (Vermont), 103rd (Maine and New Hampshire) and 102nd (Connecticut) Infantry Regiments, was organized as part of the 43rd Infantry Division.[6]

1920s to 1940s

From 1921 until the start of World War II the 86th Brigade continued as a subordinate command of the 43rd Division.[7]

World War II

The 43rd Infantry Division, including the 86th Brigade, was activated for World War II on 24 February 1941. The 86th Brigade underwent pre-deployment training at Camp Blanding, Florida and Camp Shelby, Mississippi. On 19 February 1942 the 86th Brigade Headquarters was disbanded, as were other infantry brigade headquarters, with regiments now reporting directly to division commanders. The 43rd Division served in the Pacific throughout World War II, with the former 86th Brigade commander Leonard F. Wing becoming the assistant division commander under Major General John H. Hester and Major General John R. Hodge and the division commander from August 1943 to the Division's inactivation in October 1945.[8]

Post World War II

The 43rd Division continued in service after World War II, organized mainly in Connecticut, until being deactivated in 1967. The 172nd Infantry Regiment continued in service as a Vermont organization.[9]

In 1963 the 86th Brigade Headquarters was reactivated, and in 1964 it was reorganized as a separate armored brigade. Army combat arms battalions kept regimental designations to maintain lineage and honors, but were no longer organized as regiments. 1st Battalion, 172nd Armor, a unit of the 86th Armored Brigade, was headquartered in St. Albans, and 2-172 Armor was headquartered in Rutland.[10]

In 1968 the 86th Brigade was assigned to the 50th Armored Division, receiving M48A1 and M48 tanks. Between 1975-76 Vermont & New Jersey armor battalions started turning in their old tanks and began receiving M48A5 tanks. During this time, many Vermont tank crews competed in gunnery exercises held in West Germany and consistently brought back awards. Training was rigorous during the Soviet threat peak years of the late 1970s to mid 1980s. Germany was the primary area of operations of the 50th Armored Division if it had been activated.

In 1984-5, Isby and Kamps listed the brigade as headquartered at Montpelier, Vermont, with the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 172nd Armor and the 1st Battalion, 86th Field Artillery Regiment.[11]

Reorganizing the Army National Guard to meet the new 'Division 86' structure in the mid-1980s was a challenging process. It was decided to dissolve the 50th Armored Division, thus by October 1986 the brigade was reassigned to the 26th Infantry Division.[12] Shortly thereafter, the 86th Brigade received M60A3 medium tanks.

As an armor unit the 86th Brigade excelled at gunnery, becoming the only National Guard armor unit to consistently accomplish Tank Table XII, which requires a platoon of four tanks to advance and fire simultaneously on a live fire range.[13]

When the 26th Division inactivated in 1993, the 86th Brigade joined the 42nd Infantry Division and was soon to receive M1 Abrams main battle tanks. The brigade was deployed with various elements and attachments, to Iraq in 2004–2005 as Task Force Redleg, on a security mission to Kuwait in 2004 as Task Force Green Mountain, redeploying in 2005,[14] and to Ramadi, Iraq in 2005-2006 as Task Force Saber with the 2-28th Infantry Brigade Combat Team from the Pennsylvania Army National Guard.

In 2006, the brigade was re-designated as the 86th IBCT (Mountain) and began a transformation from a "heavy" brigade to a specialized light infantry formation, using 3rd Battalion 172nd Infantry Regiment (Mountain), previously a separate battalion, as the nucleus. The 86th brigade turned in its Abrams tanks and ended its armor designation, after almost 43 years of such history.

Turning armor formations into infantry and cavalry units while adding 1st Battalion 102nd Infantry from Connecticut, the brigade slowly formed from 2006 to 2008. The 86th IBCT welcomed the addition of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment from the Massachusetts Army National Guard on 14 September 2008.[15]

The 86th IBCT mobilized in December 2009 at Camp Atterbury, Indiana and completed a Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk prior to deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The brigade returned home in December 2010 after being replaced by 2nd IBCT, 34th Infantry Division.[16][17]

Operation Enduring Freedom

Combat engineers from the 86th IBCT practise obstacle clearing at Camp Ethan Allen Training Site.

Around February 2008 Soldiers of the 86th IBCT were beginning to receive notification of their upcoming deployment. The Brigade Commander at the time was Colonel William F. Roy. In 2009 the Brigade did a rotation at JRTC in Fort Polk, LA. December 2009 the Brigade was officially mobilized and to report to Camp Atterbury, IN. While in Indiana the Brigade trained and prepped for their future deployment to Afghanistan. After receiving numerous replacements and volunteer Soldiers the Brigade was sent back to JRTC for one more rotation before they left the country. The majority of the brigade landed in Afghanistan in early March. The brigade headquarters was on Bagram Airfield in RC-East. The brigade was tasked with numerous missions being conducted all over Eastern Afghanistan. The missions included partnering with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), assisting in the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, and securing over 30,000 Soldiers on Bagram Airfield while ensuring the base was continuing its daily operations. The Brigade left Afghanistan in early December returning to Camp Atterbury, IN. The Brigade was released from Federal service and returned to the Northeast to continue their respective State missions. A large amount of the Brigade was awarded the Valorous Unit Commendation for their service from 8 March 2010 – 4 December 2010 for their exceptional performance while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

Order of battle

86th BCT (MTN).jpg 86th IBCT (Mountain) (VT NG)

Associated unit:
US Army National Guard Regional Training Institute Shoulder Sleeve Insignia.png 124th Regiment (Regional Training Institute)

See also


  1. ^ a b "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. ^ Vermont Army National Guard homepage, last accessed 3 December 2011
  3. ^ Albert Bushnell Hart (1920). Harper's Pictorial Library of the World War. Harper. p. 372.
  4. ^ Shipley Thomas (1920). The History of the A. E. F. George H. Doran Company. p. 490.
  5. ^ Richard A. Rinaldi (November 2004). The Us Army In World War I: Orders Of Battle. Tiger Lily Publications LLC. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-9720296-4-3.
  6. ^ Joseph E. Zimmer (2008). The History of the 43rd Infantry Division, 1941-1945. ULUL. p. 10. ISBN 978-1-4357-5734-9.
  7. ^ The National Guard of the State of Vermont, Army and Navy Publishing, 1939, pages 5 to 7
  8. ^ The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, by J. T. White, Volume 35, 1949, page 189
  9. ^ United Church Herald, United Church of Christ, Volume 5, 1962
  10. ^ Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Separate Brigades, by John B. Wilson, 1999, page 378
  11. ^ David Isby and Charles C. Kamps, "Armies of NATO's Central Front," Jane's Publishing Company, 1985, 384.
  12. ^ Army magazine, by Association of the United States Army, Volume 38, 1988, page 72
  13. ^ Newspaper article, Vt. tank soldiers head for Iraq, by Wilson Ring, Associated Press, Barre-Montpelier Times-Argus, 18 January 2005
  14. ^ Vt. Guard prepares for call-up, by Wilson Ring, Associated Press, published in Rutland Herald, 18 June 2004
  15. ^ Newspaper article, Briefed on their mission, N.E. soldiers answer call, by Milton J. Valencia and Abbie Ruzicka, Boston Globe, 2 December 2009
  16. ^ Newspaper article, Guard ordered to Afghanistan, by Sam Hemingway, Burlington Free Press, 3 July 2009
  17. ^ "Vermont-based National Guard unit alerted for 2010 mission". Barre Montpelier Times-Argus. AP. 16 May 2008. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  18. ^ "Colo. National Guard infantry battalion to become part of new Army Associated Unit". co.ng.mil. Archived from the original on 5 November 2016. Retrieved 28 March 2016.
  19. ^ GlobalSecurity.org, 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain), last accessed 3 December 2011 and Mountain Infantry 3/172 Charlie Company homepage Archived 21 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine, last accessed 3 December 2011