“Red Arrow” Division of WI National Guard reorganized as mission-ready brigade 50 years ago

Published: Dec. 29, 2017 at 12:40 PM CST
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In 1967, the Department of Defense reorganized Wisconsin’s historic 32nd “Red Arrow” Division into the smaller 32nd Separate Brigade.

The reorganization concluded an historic era and enhanced the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s ability to respond both home and abroad.

In March 1967, the Pentagon considered restricting the 32nd Division, but the plan called for modernizing the division into smaller, full-strength brigades that could deploy in defense of the USA within weeks instead of months.

“This would result in a streamlined Army National Guard and Reserve force of eight divisions and 16 independent brigades, all of which would be at combat strength or close to that level,” reported the March 5, 1967 issue of the Appleton Post-Crescent.

According to the Wisconsin National Guard press release, losing the 32nd Division was a tough blow for Wisconsin because of its record of distinguished service in two world wars, as well as during the 1961-62 Berlin Crisis where President Kennedy had “called them in to prevent a war, not to fight a war.”

On June 2nd, the arm announced its final decision to reorganize the 32nd Division into a brigade.

“We are deeply saddened over the loss of our famed ‘Red Arrow’ Division,” said Gov. Warren Knowles. “But if, in the best judgement of the Department of Defense officials, this course of action is vitally necessary to the defense structure of this nation, Wisconsin will continue to do its part in support of the defense effort.”

The 32nd Division’s 9,000 troops planned to observe the unit’s 50th anniversary during its final annual training at Camp Ripley, MN, according to the release.