The 3d Battalion, 6th Field Artillery traces its lineage to Stilles’ Company of Artillerists, formed in 1798. The Battalion’s first campaign streamers were earned during the Civil War, where it participated with the Union Army (as Battery K, 1st U.S. Artillery) in twelve major campaigns including Manassas, Fredericksburg, Antietam, Gettysburg and Appomattox.
Redesignated Battery B, the unit was stationed at Fort Riley following the Civil War, deploying to Cuba during the Spanish American War and earning the Santiago campaign streamer. Shortly after, the 25th Battery (lettered batteries became numbered batteries during the artillery reorganization of 1901) participated in defeating the Philippine Insurrection, 1902 – 1903, equipped with 3.2 inch guns, Vickers-Maxim gatling guns, and mule-borne 3.6 inch mortars (3-6th FA maintains a bronze panther in the battalion headquarters that was presented as a gift by the Philippine Government in 1903 during service in the Philippines). On 31 May 1907, the 6th Regiment, Field Artillery (Horse) was formed with the 2d, 22d, 25th, 7th, 20th, and 21st batteries forming batteries A through F, respectively.
Shortly afterwards (1914), the 6th Field Artillery (Horse) deployed to the Mexican border and was personally selected by General “Blackjack” Pershing to participate in the Punitive Expedition into Mexico in pursuit of Pancho Villa in 1916, returning to the United States in 1917.
Alerted for deployment to Europe on 21 July 1917, the Regiment was again selected by General Pershing, this time to form the core of the field artillery support for the 1st Expeditionary Division (later to become the 1st Infantry Division), deploying by rail from Arizona to New York City and embarking on troop ships on 31 July.
At 0605 on 23 October 1917, Battery C, 6th Field Artillery (now equipped with the famous French 75mm howitzer), fired the first round fired in anger by the American Expeditionary Force. Serving with the 1st Infantry Division throughout the war, the Regiment earned seven campaign streamers, to include participation in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. Throughout the war, the Regiment mastered newly developed techniques of close supporting fires to the Infantry, earning the reputation of providing accurate and rapid fires (“three rounds in the air and one in the breach”) while supporting the 1st Infantry Division’s infantry regiments.
Leaving one battalion to participate in occupation duty in Germany after the war, the rest of the Regiment redeployed to the United States and was established at Fort Hoyle, MD (current site of Aberdeen Proving Grounds). Throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s, the 6th Field Artillery participated in a series of experiments with mechanization (while still being maintained as a horse artillery organization). On the eve of WWII, it was attached to the 8th Infantry Division on 22 June 1940 and then assigned to the 37th Infantry Division on 8 August 1942.
During WWII, the 6th Field Artillery (now equipped with the 75mm pack howitzer), participated in two campaigns in the Pacific Theater (Northern Solomon and Luzon (with arrowhead)), to include the liberation of Manila in 1944 (the flag from the Japanese Army Headquarters in Manila is now displayed in the 3-6 FA headquarters). Inactivated at the end of WWII, the battalion was reactivated at Fort Sill, OK on 1 August 1946 and supported the FA School. It was reorganized and designated the 3d Howitzer Battalion, 6th Field Artillery in May 1958. Deploying to the Republic of Vietnam in 1966 equipped with the 105mm self-propelled howitzer, 3d Battalion, 6th Field Artillery participated in 10 campaigns throughout the central highlands until it was redeployed to the United States in 1970 and inactivated on 10 April 1970.
Rejoining the 1st Infantry Division on 13 September 1972, 3d Battalion, 6th Field Artillery was the pioneer unit in converting to the M270 MLRS system in 1983. Deactivated (again) on 16 March 1987, the lineage continued with Battery B (MLRS), 6th Field Artillery as a separate battery, participating with the 1st Infantry Division and adding two more campaign streamer’s to the Regiment’s history.
On 10 December 1995, the colors of the 3d Battalion, 6th Field Artillery, with its 36 campaign streamers, three foreign awards and a valorous unit award (Battery A) joined the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry). From November of 2001 through May 2002, the battalion deployed to the Balkans as the Centaur Task Force in support of Operation Joint Guardian. While the majority of the battalion conducted stability and support operations at various locations throughout the Province of Kosovo, Batteries B and C, deployed to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, providing the security force for Camp Able Sentry. Simultaneously, battalion fire Support Elements deployed to other locations throughout the world. 2-22d Infantry fire supporters deployed to Bosnia in support of Operation Joint Forge and 1-87th Infantry fire supporters deployed to Uzbekistan and Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
In July of 2003 the Centaurs answered duty’s call again, deploying in support of Coalition Task Force Warrior for Operation Enduring Freedom IV. The Centaurs learned new TTPs and weapon systems like the 120mm mortar as they occupied firebases on the frontiers of freedom. With names like Shkin, Orgun-E, Asadabad, Salerno, Qalat, Gecko, Ghazni, and even more austere places than wherever they were needed.. Throughout 2003, Centaurs played key roles in every operation in country: Mountain Viper, Mountain Resolve, Secure Future, Mountain Avalanche, and Mountain Storm.
The Centaurs rang in the New Year of 2004 with a new, additional, and significant mission. In January, the battalion quickly transitioned from masters of indirect fire to a maneuver task force. With elements of civil affairs and PSYOPS teams, a military police company, and a Romanian infantry company now attached, Task Force Centaur was responsible for securing the greater Kandahar City area and the outer Kandahar Airfield. That area quickly expanded as the battalion took on greater and greater responsibilities for security, stability, and reconstruction of the Kandahar Province. Operation Secure Future and Mountain Storm saw Centaurs providing indirect fires across 6 provinces, even while Task Force Centaur secured 25,000 square kilometers of territory in Southern Afghanistan.
After returning to Fort Drum from a successful mission in Afghanistan, the Centaur Battalion transformed its structure to incorporate new assets: a meteorological section and forward support company and to give firing platoons the ability t operate autonomously, all the while preparing for its next mission in Iraq. In August 2005, the Centaur Battalion again made history as the first newly designed Fires Battalion to deploy to combat. In Iraq the Centaurs served as the Area Defense Operations Center (ADOC) on the Victory Base complex in Western Baghdad. With 400 Soldiers and 102 Ugandan contractors, Task Force Centaur was charged with the security and force protection for over 30,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, coalition partners, and associated civilian workers on Camp Liberty. In addition, the battalion was charged with securing 25 square kilometers of battle space and 17 kilometers of perimeter wall, as well as maintaining and securing 3 Access Control Points to the base complex. The Centaur Battalion did all this while providing continuous all-weather fire support to all of Western Baghdad.
In April 2007, the BN was notified of its next mission to support OIF 07-09 in Kirkuk Iraq. During the deployment the BN maintained 24 hour indirect fire support at two outlying patrol bases and was responsible for 3,500 square kilometers of battle space. Additional the BN was partnered with the 46th Iraqi Army Brigade and the Iraq Power and Oil infrastructure. As a result of the BN’s efforts, Iraq exported over 170 million barrels of oil bringing much needed reconstruction money to the Iraq government. In November of 2008 the BN redeployed to Fort Drum, N.Y.
In March 2010, the Battalion deployed to Faryab Province in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The Centaur Battalion operated out of three FOBS in RC-North, working intimately with Norwegian, Swedish, and Latvian partners to further legitimize Provincial and District governments through personal engagement and the application of money as a weapon system. These efforts resulted in increasing the capabilities and capacities of the Afghan Police and disrupted insurgent efforts which strengthened the population’s confidence in the government and paved the way for the strategic completion of the Ring Road. The Battalion redeployed to Fort Drum, NY in March of 2011 to begin training for their next mission.
The “Swift and Bold” battalion remains ready to provide accurate and timely fires anytime, and perform all other missions as may be directed, anywhere in the world.