I am always very surprised when I come across a spouse or immediate Family member who does not know to which unit their Soldier is assigned. Knowing this basic piece of information is immensely helpful when filling out paper work or when trying to contact your Soldier while they are training or on deployment.
When I worked at a reserve training base, there were always numerous units training at any given time, amounting to hundreds if not thousands of Soldiers on the ground from around the U.S.
On many occasions I would get a phone call from a frantic spouse or Family member trying to locate their Soldier. Naturally, my first question to them was always, “what unit are they with?” The majority of the time the spouse or Family member could not give me that information, making finding their Soldier very difficult or nearly impossible.
Understanding what unit a Soldier is assigned to begins with understanding the organization of military units. The Army is a hierarchy and the lower on that hierarchy that you can get regarding unit information, the better for you and your Soldier.
There are currently three active corps in the U.S. Army — I Corps, III Corps and XVIII Airborne Corps. Corps are commanded by a lieutenant general (three stars) and typically consist of several divisions.
XVIII Abn. Corps, Fort Bragg’s senior command, has four subordinate divisions — 3rd Infantry Division, 10th Mountain Division, 101st Airborne Division and 82nd Airborne Division.
The next level in the Army hierarchy is a division, which is commanded by a major general (two stars). Currently, there are 10 divisions in the Army, each consisting of about 10,000 to 20,000 Soldiers.
Fort Bragg is home to the 82nd Abn. Div. These Soldiers are easily identified by their maroon berets and “AA” unit patch.
Within the 82nd Abn. Div. there are six subordinate units — 1st Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Division Artillery, 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade and 82nd Sustainment Brigade, as well as the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion.
A brigade typically has about 2,000 to 5,000 Soldiers and is commanded by a colonel. Each brigade has a Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company and between two and seven battalions.
There are multiple battalions within the six brigades that make up the 82nd Abn. Div. at Fort Bragg. For example, the 82nd CAB has a brigade HHC and five subordinate battalions.
Depending on the unit, battalions can have anywhere from 300 to 1,000 Soldiers and are commanded by a lieutenant colonel.
Battalions, in my opinion, really are the level where cohesion of a unit begins because they are small enough for Soldiers and Families to get to know each other. However, this is also the level where Army naming nomenclatures become more complex than the higher echelons.
Keeping with the example of the 82nd CAB, this particular unit has five battalions all with distinctive names that describe what type of battalion they are.
One of the 82nd CAB battalions is 1st Battalion, 82nd Attack Reconnaissance Battalion. When this unit nomenclature is spoken, many will say “first of the eighty-second” or “one, eight, two.” It can also be written as 1/82 ARB or 1st Bn., 82nd ARB. Because of the different ways a unit name can be said or written confusion can arise.
Companies, or batteries for those in field artillery, have about 80 to 200 Soldiers and are typically commanded by a captain but in certain instances are commanded by a major.
A company is designated as HHC or with a letter of the alphabet. The letter of the alphabet is added to the battalion name for the full company name. For example, B company (or company B), 1st Bn., 82nd ARB.
Company leadership is well in tune with the pulse of their unit and usually know their Soldiers and sometimes their Families on a more personal level. Knowing your Soldiers’ company leadership can be very beneficial, especially if you need to reach out for help and information.
Within a company there are about three to six platoons.
Platoons have about 20 to 50 Soldiers and are typically led by a junior officer. Platoons are named by number — first, second, third, etc.
Platoons are usually comprised of two or more squads/sections. Squads, or sections, are about 10 to 20 Soldiers who are typically led by a non-commissioned officer, however, in some cases a corporal or senior specialist can be a squad/section leader.
If we use the example information and all the information on the different levels of the Army we can say a hypothetical Soldier belongs to First Platoon, B Co., 1st Bn., 82nd ARB, 82nd CAB, 82nd Abn. Div., XVIII Abn. Corps.
I know that’s a mouthful and a lot to remember, but my suggestion would be to at least remember the battalion to which that your Soldier belongs. I promise it could be very helpful to you one day.
(If you have a question about the military or Fort Bragg you would like me to answer, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)