The 82nd Field Artillery traces its earliest history to that of the "First Dragoons", a type of fighting force that was skilled both as horse-mounted and dismounted troops. Dragoon is derived from the French Army designation for the firearm (whose name means dragon) carried by French Dragoons. This type of short musket had a dragon's head worked on the muzzle.
From the First Dragoons was formed the First Cavalry which in turn became the mother of the 24th Cavalry.
The 24th Cavalry was organized on 5 June 1917, representing approximately one third of the officers and enlisted men that had made up the First Cavalry. Then, on 1 November 1917, the 24th Cavalry became the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment consisting of 62 officers, 1448 enlisted men, 1117 horses and 114 mules stationed at Fort D. A. Russell (Texas). The regiment was then reassigned to Camp Logan and later assigned to Fort Bliss, Texas, and assigned to the 15th Cavalry.
On 9 March 1916, the Mexican rebel General Francisco "Pancho" Villa ordered nearly 500 Mexican revolutionaries to make a cross-border attack into the United States at New Mexico. The raid was in response to Woodrow Wilson's recognition and support of the Carranza regime. Commander of the Army 8th Brigade John J. Pershing led a failed punitive expedition to kill or capture Villa. However, Villa was not caught and by 1919 had assembled a sizable force and had initiated several battles against Mexican military troops in an attempt to rally the Mexican people against President Carranza. On the morning of 15 June 1919, Villa's forces attacked Mexican military troops at Fort Hidalgo.
At 0136 hours on 15 June 1919, the 82nd Field Artillery regiment (minus Service Company) left Fort Bliss and headed toward El Paso to occupy pre-planned firing positions. From this action the unit derives its distinctive unit insignia depicting a black artillery shell and the wavy white background symbolizing the first shot across the Rio Grande by "A" Battery, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery. The motto "Can and Will" was also given to reflect their spirit steeped in traditions of men doing what needs to be done regardless of the obstacles to be overcome.
On 9 September 1921 the 82nd Field Artillery was composed of "A", "B" and "C" Batteries and was designated the 82nd Field Artillery (Horse) Battalion and was assigned to the newly activated 1st Cavalry Division. The battalion was the only horse artillery in the United States Army at the time and the designation meant that all unit members rode mounted horses instead of riding on gun carriages.
On 17 March 1930, the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment was reactivated and the 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) was reorganized as the 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, but lost its designation as (Horse). Parallel to this, the 84th Field Artillery was redesignated as the 2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery and inactivated. Assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division was also delayed until 1 December 1934.
The 82nd Field Artillery Regiment deployed to the Pacific theatre in World War II with the 1st Cavalry Division and saw action in New Guinea, the Bismarck Archipelago, Leyte and Luzon.
Following World War II, the battalion performed occupational duty in Japan and was one of the first units to arrive in Korea in 1950. The unit was credited with seven campaign streamers in the Korean War. On 15 October 1950, it was deactivated and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division.
During the Vietnam War, the 3rd Battalion arrived as part of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade in 1966. While with the 196th LIB, it participated in Operation Attleboro I and II, Operation Cedar Falls, Operation Gadsden, and Operation Junction City. Later elements of the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment participated in Operation Clean House, Operation Pershing and Operation Sheridan Saber. Bravo Battery was the last artillery unit to leave Vietnam in 1972.
The 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery was reactivated on 10 January 1968 and arrived in Vietnam on 24 July 1968 with three 155 mm towed howitzer batteries and one 8-inch self-propelled battery. The 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery was assigned to the 23rd Infantry Division (Americal) based in Chu Lai, Vietnam. Its assigned batteries were placed at various fire bases located in the Americal Division's area of operations below Da Nang in Southern I Corps. During its first full year in Vietnam the battalion's firebases were subject to frequent NVA attacks while supporting a number of operations within the Americal Division's area of operations (AO). A Battery participated in the July–August 1970 defense of the Special Forces base at Kham Duc where they suffered several casualties. Fifteen unit members were awarded medals for valor in this action including three silver stars. C Battery was located in the Duc Phu area, 4 guns were on a hill (LZ LIZ) and 2 others were on LZ Thunder just south west of Duc Phu.
In spring 1971, 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery was deployed along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in support of Operation Lam Son 719, the ARVN invasion of Laos. The battalion made one of the longest nighttime road marches of the Vietnam War driving 192 miles in only 12 hours. 1st Bn, 82nd Artillery units manned several critical fire bases right on the border of North Vietnam to support Vietnamese and U.S. forces operating in these areas. At the height of this fighting in a 10-hour period, 1st Bn, 82nd Artillery guns fired between 7,000 and 9,000 rounds at an NVA Division that was trying to mount an attack against Fire Support Base Vandegrift the battalion's headquarters. During the 69 days of Operation Lam Son 719 the 1st Battalion, 82nd Artillery lost four men killed and twenty wounded with three more fatalities due to non-hostile causes. The battalion returned to the United States at the end of 1971 where it was soon deactivated.
In October 1990, the regiment deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Desert Shield. Along with other elements of the 3rd Armored Division, the regiment helped to create the illusion that the main force of the coalition forces would enter Iraq by coming up the Wadi Al-Batin. This feint was part of General Norman Schwarzkopf's Hail Mary plan.
The 1st Cavalry Division transitioned to Force XXI following the redeployment to Fort Hood after OIF II. Each brigade of the division gained many assets that were traditionally reserved at the division or echelon above division / echelon above corps level.
Each field artillery battalion gained greater depth in the staff sections of the headquarters, multiple automated battle command systems (ABCS), greater depth in intelligence sections, and a small gain in medical support. The battalions lost organic Forward Observers and their accompanying Bradley Fighting Vehicles. Largely due to restrictions on female soldiers in front-line combat, a tailored Forward Support Company (Golf) was task organized from the brigade support battalion to support the fires battalions. Women were effectively assigned to the battalions for the first time.
In July 2012, 1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment deployed forward to Iraq in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and then to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
Elements of the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment deployed to Iraq. To support the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division in the Al Thawra District of Baghdad, Charlie Battery began conducting dismounted foot patrols in an area the soldiers call "Squaretown". From Squaretown, insurgent forces launched mortar attacks and the soldiers were concerned about weapons being transported through the area near the outskirts of Camp War Eagle.
Most of the soldiers of 2-82 Field Artillery are located on Camp Steel Dragon in the Green Zone. Many of the fire supporters are in different camps. The 2-82 Field Artillery fire supporters attached within the Grey Wolf Brigade Combat Team are serving at 3rd Brigade Headquarters, with Task Force 3-8 Cavalry, and with Task Force 1-9 Cavalry. Task Force 2-7 Cavalry and their fire supporters are serving with the 39th Brigade Combat Team at Camp Cooke in Taji. The soldiers of C Battery and the COLT Platoon are attached to Colonel Lanza's 5th BCT and are located on Camp Falcon on the south side of Baghdad. The rest of the 2-82 Field Artillery soldiers, along with nearly 100 soldiers of B Company, 1-160 Infantry, belong to Task Force Steel Dragon.
A typical day for 3-82 at Thunder involved anywhere from 1 to 2 daytime patrols and 1 to 2 nighttime patrols in its sector. These patrols can have any number of focuses from checking on projects in sector to searching for new ones to start or gathering intelligence. The main focus in the sector is helping to rebuild the neighborhood and helping the Iraqi Security Forces to take ownership in the areas. They have started two school projects that are approximately $100,000.00 a piece and several others in smaller amounts.
In October 2003, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery formed Fox Battery, a hybrid mechanized/motorized battery composed of 2nd Brigade (Black Jack) fire supporters. The first platoon consisted of six M7A2 Bradley Fire Support Vehicles taken from Task Force 1-5 Cavalry and Task Force 2-12 Cavalry. The second platoon's composition was six M707 Striker HMMWVs belonging to the COLT platoon of D/9 Cavalry. The battery's existence proved to be vital during the Mahdi Army's uprisings in April 2004 with the mechanized platoon filling the gaps in Black Jack's armor shortage. The second platoon ran counter Improvised Explosive Device (IED) and main supply route (MSR) security during that time. Fire supporters from F/3-82 Field Artillery were called upon in August 2004 to go with Task Force 1-5 Cavalry (Black Knights) to retake the southern city of Najaf, with the rest of the battery relieving Task Force 1-5 Cavalry in Area of Operations Black Knight. In November 2004, Fox Battery soldiers were sent with Task Force 1-5 Cavalry and Task Force 2-12 Cavalry to provide outer cordon for operations in Fallujah. The battery then accompanied 3-82 Field Artillery to Forward Operating Base Kalsu in December 2004 to run heavy counter-insurgency operations prior to the January 2005 elections. The COLT platoon is credited for smashing an insurgent operation to kill voters on Election Day, without firing a shot. Fox Battery was deactivated in May 2005, with the entire battery receiving the Combat Action Badge for their efforts.
During the first battle of Fallujah, Alpha Battery was task organized to the brigade-task force assigned under the 1st Marine Division. Alpha Battery fired over 1,800 155MM rounds in support of 1st Marine Division.
The 3rd Battalion deployed to Joint Base Balad in May 2011. Bravo Battery was tasked with securing the Samarrah mosque in conjunction with U.S. Army Special Forces. Golf Forward Support Company providing weekly logistics support while concurrently patrolling the immediate area surrounding the base in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force.
After the main body of the battalion redeployed to Fort Hood in November 2011, Bravo Battery remained in Kuwait as part of the CENTCOM strategic reserve task organized under 1-8 Cav. The entire battalion was redeployed to Fort Hood by the end of January 2012.
In June 2013, 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment deployed again to Afghanistan for combat and stability operations in Operation Enduring Freedom. The battalion redeployed in its entirety on 1 March 2014 after leading the largest Joint Coalition Task Force in Regional Command East. The battalion provided mission command to almost 2700 soldiers and airmen from the US, Jordanian, Korean, and Czech Republic armies. In June 2014, the battalion activated Charlie battery from within its organization and converted the Forward Support Company (FSC) from Golf Company to Foxtrot Company.
The GWOT saw the continued association of the 82nd Field Artillery Regiment with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood as well as the 5th Battalion's return of the regiment to Fort Bliss.
On May 5, 2015, 3-82 FA was deactivated and redesignated as 3-16 FA at Fort Hood, Texas.
In October 2013, 5th Battalion was deactivated after a final tour in Afghanistan as part of the 4th Brigade Combat Team. Alpha Battery was reflagged as Charlie Battery 2-82 FA and Bravo Battery was reflagged as Charlie Battery 1-82 FA.