The roots of the 76th Infantry Brigade (Separate), Indiana Army National Guard reach back to 1917, and the first months of America’s military build-up for the First World War. To supplement the Regular Army, Congress approved the formation of seventeen new National Guard divisions numbered 26 through 42.
The National Guards of the states of Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia were chosen to provide units for the 38th Division. That division was organized according to prevailing American military doctrine as a “square” division of two brigades and four infantry regiments. The 149th Infantry from Kentucky and the 150th Infantry from West Virginia formed the 75th Brigade, and the 151st and 152nd of Indiana formed the 76th Brigade. The 38th Division, with its two component regiments, assembled at Camp Shelby, Mississippi there it remained for the duration of the war, having never been deployed to the battlefields of France. In 1919, the division was released from Federal service.
The component units of the 38th Division returned to their respective states, and during the next two decades, the 76th Brigade remained an Indiana National Guard unit, composed of the 151st and 152nd Infantry. The Brigade was under state control for over two decades, and fulfilled its state mission while remaining a force capable of federal service if the need arose.
With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the Army again called upon the National Guard to supplement the regular forces. In January 1941 the 38th Division was activated for federal service. The states of Indiana, Kentucky, and West Virginia again supplied 75th and 76th Brigades, with the same “square” organizational structure that had been used in World War I. However, during the years between the wars, Army doctrine shifted from the “square” division of four regiments and two brigades to a “triangular” division of three regiments, thus eliminating the brigade as a component of the division. This re-organization of the 38th Division was carried out in 1942. The 150th Infantry of the West Virginia National Guard was detached from the division, and the 75 and 76th Brigades were abolished. The 38th Division went on to fight with distinction in the Philippines as the “Avengers of Bataan”, but the 76th Brigade had ceased to exist as in identifiable military organization.
After World War Two, the 38th Division returned to its peace-time duties as a state controlled military force of Indiana and Kentucky. The “triangular” organization was retained through the 1950’s, with the 149th Infantry in Kentucky, and the 151st and 152nd Infantry in Indiana. In the early 1960’s, the Army began the Reorganization Objective Army Division (ROAD) project. This was designed to create a more flexible structure, and re-introduced the brigade as an organizational component of the division. The 38th Infantry Division began its re-organization in 1963 with the creation of a 1st and 2nd Brigade. The 1st Brigade was re-named the 76th Brigade in 1965, thereby restoring for the first time in two decades the designation of one of the original brigades formed in 1917. In 1966, the 76th Brigade headquarters was located in Columbus, Indiana, in 1969 in Edinburgh, Indiana, and in 1977 re-located to Bedford, Indiana, where it would remain for the next seven years. During that time the 76th Brigade was a component of the 38th Infantry Division, and remained under state command.
By the early 1990’s, the collapse of Communism, the disintegration of the threat of the Soviet Union in Europe, and the first gulf war caused the Defense Department to review the organization and role of the various divisions of the National Guard. Concluding that a smaller, lighter force was more appropriate to the strategic defense needs of the United States, the Army announced the creation of 15 “enhanced” or “separate” brigades from existing Army National Guard units. Separate brigades would operate independently of a division, and would have organic combat support and combat service support elements that would enable a more robust mission performance. The separate brigades would also receive more funding, equipment, and training to create smaller but more flexible units that could be rapidly mobilized and deployed.
The new Separate Brigade, nicknamed the “Nighthawks”, began the difficult and challenging task of building a totally new military organization, absorbing new equipment and personnel, and learning and applying new doctrine in the light of a changing strategic situation. Initial focus was on preparation for deployment to the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana. The Nighthawks went to JRTC in the summer of 2000, and were one of the first new separate brigades to successfully complete that rigorous training.
With the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent war with Iraq, the Nighthawks found themselves called upon to use the skills they had gained at such great cost. Two infantry battalion were activated in 2003 and deployed to combat in Iraq, where they performed there duties with skill and valor. In the spring of 2004, the Nighthawks were mobilized for deployment to Afghanistan for service in Operation Enduring Freedom.
Under the leadership of Brigadier General Richard Moorhead, the Nighthawks mobilized and trained at Camp Atterbury, Indiana, and deployed to Afghanistan during the summer of 2004. There the brigade formed the core of Coalition Joint Task Force Phoenix III. The mission for that Task Force is to train, mentor, and assist the Afghan National Army as it prepares to restore the rule of law and civil society to the shattered country.
Courtesy of www.in.ng.mil