Rhode Island Militia: History
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Note - Most of the information in this section is taken from Civil and Military List of Rhode Island, 1647-1800 by Joseph Jencks Smith published in 1900.
The Rhode Island National Guard traces it origins to the earliest known colonial defensive force which was formed on May 13, 1638 and called the "Traine Band", in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. The new force was founded as, “Freemen as a militia subject to call and expected to perform certain military duties in the protection of the people.”
In 1683 the town companies were organized into two regiments - the Regiment of the Islands i.e. Newport, Portsmouth, Jamestown and New Shoreham and the Regiment of the Main which covered the towns on the mainland of the colony. Each regiment originally was commanded by a major and the two majors presumably reported directly to the governor.
In 1714 the Militia of the Island was designated the 1st Regiment and the Militia of the Main Land was designated the 2nd Regiment. The 1st Regiment consisted of six companies and the 2nd Regiment had nine companies. The number of companies in each town varied with its population with Newport and Providence having three apiece. In 1719 the rank of the regimental commanders was increased to colonel.
In 1731, a regiment was formed for each of the three then existing counties - Newport, Providence and Kings which were designed the 1st, 2nd and 3d regiments respectively. The Newport County regiment had six companies, Providence County had 13 companies and Kings County had 9 companies.
American Civil War
Post Civil War
During the Spanish–American War, a regiment consisting of three battalions of four companies each was mobilized and called the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry. In addition to the 1st RIVI, two artillery batteries were mobilized. None of these units were sent overseas.
Militia Act Of 1903
The Rhode Island National Guard, in its modern form, was created in 1907. The two Infantry regiments of the Brigade of Rhode Island Militia were re-organized as Coast Artillery companies in order to provide a trained reserve of soldiers trained to man the five coast defense forts in Rhode Island. Other units were a Cavalry squadron and a Light Artillery Battery.
The position of commanding general of the militia was combined with that of the state adjutant general so the position of adjutant general was transformed from having only administrative responsibilities to having command authority over the units of the National Guard.
Mexican Intervention And First World War
The coast artillery companies, which were descendant from Infantry units, were also mobilized in 1917 and were used to garrison Rhode Island's coast defense forts for the duration of the war.
Most Rhode Island units were demobilized in December 1918 following the signing of the Armistice in Germany in November.
Second World War
The Great Blizzard of 1978, which occurred on February 6, 1978, caused the largest mobilization of Rhode Island Guard units since the Korean War. Guardsmen assisted stranded motorists as well as in snow removal and providing emergency transportation.
The 103rd Field Artillery Brigade was formed within the RI ARNG in 1979, and in 1984-85, consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 103rd Field Artillery Regiment.
Interim 1991 To 2001
Global War On Terrorism Operation Iraqi Freedom
The current War on Terror has seen the largest levels of mobilization and deployment of Rhode Island National Guard troops since the Second World War.
In early 2002 the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the 43d Military Police Brigade was mobilized and sent to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to provide the nucleus of the Headquarters for Joint Task Force 160 in charge of detention of illegal combatants detained in operations in Afghanistan. JTF 160 was responsible for opening Camp Delta which was a detention facility which was a great improvement over Camp X-Ray where detainees were kept initially. It should be noted that the widely publicized and controversial interrogations of detainees were carried out by Joint Task Force 170 which was responsible for intelligence gathering at Guantanamo Bay. The 43d MP Brigade returned to Rhode Island in November 2002.
From 2003 to 2011 every unit of the Rhode Island National Guard, with the exception of the 88th Army Band and the Joint Forces Headquarters, would be mobilized at least once for service in either Iraq or Afghanistan.
According to the RI NG and RI EMA Annual Report 2008, on 6 September 2008, the 103rd Field Artillery Brigade and one of its component units, the 1043rd Maintenance Company, were to inactivate on 6 September 2008. The other unit of the brigade, the 1st Battalion, 103rd Field Artillery, was to be reassigned elsewhere. The brigade was originally formed in 1979.
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