United States Army North
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|U.S. Army North|
United States Army North shoulder sleeve insignia
|Active||4 January 1943 – October 1945
June 1946 – present
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Branch||United States Army|
|Type||Army Service Component Command|
|Garrison/HQ||Fort Sam Houston, Texas|
|Motto||"Strength of the Nation!"|
|Engagements||World War II|
|Lieutenant General Perry L. Wiggins|
|William B. Caldwell, IV
Guy C. Swan III
Thomas R. Turner II
Mark W. Clark
William B. Caldwell, III
|Distinctive Unit Insignia|
United States Army North, or the Fifth Army, is an Army Service Component Command (ASCC)1 of the United States Army. It is responsible for homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities as the joint force land component command of United States Northern Command.
The Fifth United States Army was one of the principal formations of the U.S. Army in the Mediterranean during World War II. It was activated on 5 January 1943 at Oujda, French Morocco and made responsible for the defence of Algeria and Morocco. It was also given the responsibility for planning the American part of the invasion of mainland Italy. It was commanded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark.
It first saw action during Operation Avalanche, the assault landings at Salerno in September 1943. Due to the low numbers of American troops available in theatre it was made up of one American and one British corps. It had the X Corps (United Kingdom) and the VI Corps (United States) under its command. At Salerno, X Corps landed on the left flank, and VI Corps on the right flank. Progress was initially slow, due in part to lack of initiative by the American corps commander, Maj. Gen. Ernest J. Dawley, who was subsequently replaced. However, after heavy naval and air bombardment had saved the forces from any danger of being driven back into the sea, and also with the approach of the British Eighth Army (which had landed further south), the German forces retreated.
Progress was then good for a couple of months until the Germans turned, stood and fought. The Germans established a position on the Winter Line, which included the formidable defensive positions at San Pietro Infine in the Liri Valley and at Monte Cassino. By this point, Fifth Army had been reinforced by a second American corps, II Corps. With the failure of the first operations to capture Monte Cassino, an attempt was made to exploit the Allied preponderance in seapower before the coming invasion of Normandy robbed the Mediterranean of the naval forces necessary for an amphibious assault.
VI Corps was withdrawn from the line and replaced by the French Expeditionary Corps under General Alphonse Juin. They made a second attempt to capture Monte Cassino in conjunction with the amphibious assault by VI Corps, which again failed. VI Corps landed at Anzio on 22 January 1944 in Operation Shingle, and suffered many of the same problems as had been seen at Salerno. A lack of initiative on the part of the U.S. commander, Maj Gen. John P. Lucas, combined with worries about the Germans catching VI Corps off balance if it advanced too far in land resulted in the bridgehead being bottled up. The Germans nearly breached the last beachhead defences before again being driven off by heavy naval and air support.
After the failure of Shingle, a large reorganisation took place. Previously the Apennines had been the rough dividing line between Fifth and Eighth Armies. However, the dividing line was shifted westwards, to allow the concentration of both armies on the western side of Italy for maximum firepower to break through to Rome. the V Corps (United Kingdom) was left on the Adriatic coast to pin down any German units there. Fifth Army was relieved of responsibility for Cassino and the final phases of that battle saw Indian, New Zealand and finally Polish troops thrown against the fortress. Fifth Army also lost X Corps at this time, since it was felt that having exclusively American-organised units under Fifth Army and British-organised units under Eighth Army would ease logistics.
The breakthrough was achieved during the spring of 1944. Coordinated assaults by all the Allied forces, except V Corps, which was confined to a holding action, broke through. II Corps attacked along the coast, the French Expeditionary Corps, in a classic demonstration of mountain warfare, broke through on the right flank of Fifth Army, and VI Corps broke out of the Anzio beachhead. By early summer, Allied forces were well on their way to capturing Rome.
At this point, one of the more controversial incidents in the history of Fifth Army occurred. The strategic conception of General Harold Alexander, commanding 15th Army Group was that the forces of VI Corps, coming out of Anzio would trap the retreating German forces, and leave them to be annihilated by the advancing Fifth and Eighth Armies. However, in contravention of orders, Clark diverted units of VI Corps towards Rome, leaving a small blocking force to attempt to stop the Germans. It failed to do so, and the German forces were able to escape and reestablish a coherent line to the north of Rome. Clark claimed that there were significant German threats which necessitated the diversion, but many believe that he was primarily glory-seeking by being the first to liberate Rome.
Two days after Rome fell, Operation Overlord was launched. The strategic conception of Overlord called for a supporting operation to be mounted by invading southern France. In order to do so, forces would have to be withdrawn from Allied Armies in Italy. In the end, VI Corps was withdrawn, forming the nucleus of the field forces of the US Seventh Army for the invasion of the French Riviera, Operation Dragoon. The French Expeditionary Corps was also withdrawn, to allow its men to be used to form French First Army, a follow-up formation for Dragoon. In two months, the strength of the Fifth Army dropped from 250,000 to 150,000, or the equivalent of 9 divisions. However the Brazilian Expeditionary Division as well as another divisions had arrived to align with IV Corps, so two corps were maintained within Fifth Army.
In the 2nd half of 1944, the Allied force on Italian Front within the US 5th Army and 8th British Army resembled more a multi-national force being constituted by: Americans (including segregated African/and/Japanese-Americans), British, French, members of French and British colonies (New Zealanders, Canadians, Indians, Gurkhas, Black Africans, Moroccans, Algerians, Jews and Arabs from the British Mandate in Palestine, South Africans), as well as Brazilians and exiled forces from Poland, Greece, former Czechoslovakia and anti-fascist Italians.23
The Germans reestablished their line across Italy at the level of Pisa and Rimini. The Allied forces spent another winter frustrated at their lack of ability to break through. This time Fifth Army was straddling the Apennines, with many of its units occupying high, exposed positions which were miserable to garrison. That winter also saw a significant change of command. General Clark moved to command 15th Army Group, and Lieutenant General Lucian Truscott was appointed to command Fifth Army in his place. Truscott would command the Army from 16 December 1944 until the war's end.
In the final operations against the German Army Group C, the Eighth Army initiated the main offensive on the Adriatic coast, and then the Fifth Army also broke through the German defenses around Bologna. The German units, in the main, were pinned against the Po River and destroyed, or at the very least deprived of their transport and heavy weapons, which effectively made many of them useless. II Corps units raced through Milan towards the French frontier and the great port of Genoa. The IV Corps pushed due north through Verona, Vicenza and as far as Bolzano and to the Brenner Pass, where they linked up with elements of the US Seventh Army.
Its role in Italy cost Fifth Army dearly. It suffered 109,642 casualties in 602 days of combat. 19,475 were killed in action. The Fifth Army headquarters returned to the United States in September, 1945. 2 October 1945 saw Fifth Army deactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts.
Its next role was considerably less violent, and it was reactivated on 11 June 1946 at Chicago under the command of Major-General John P. Lucas, who had commanded Operation Shingle at Anzio during World War II. It was redesignated Fifth United States Army on 1 January 1957.
Its postwar role was as a command and control headquarters for Army Reserve units, formally responsible for the training of many Army troops and also the ground defense of part of the continental United States. In June 1971, Fifth Army moved to its current base at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. In January 2012, LTG William B. Caldwell, IV assumed command and ensured about 270,000 National Guard and Reserve personnel were qualified for combat.
Fifth Army has recently given up its Reserve preparation obligations to First Army, and is now responsible for homeland defense and Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) as United States Army North. Joint Task Force-Civil Support, a subordinate command, is designated as the Department of Defense (DoD) command element for Department of Defense assistance to the overall federal response to a state governments request for assistance in the event of a catastrophic chemical, biological, nuclear or high yield explosive CBRNE emergency. The command also has a subordinate Contingency Command Post (CCP), known as Task Force-51, which is responsible for responding to all hazards incidents that require DOD assistance. TF-51 can be employed as an all-hazards task force or a Joint Task Force (JTF) with joint augmentation. Major General (ARNG) Charles Gailes is the commanding general.
- Commanding General: Lieutenant General Perry L. Wiggins
- Deputy Commanding General-Operations: Major General William F. Roy
- Deputy to the Commanding General: Mr. Robert Naething
- Command Sergeant Major: Command Sergeant Major Hu Rhodes
- Ready, J. Lee. Forgotten Allies: The European Theatre, Volume I. McFarland & Company, 1985. ISBN 978-0-89950-129-1.
- Ready, J. Lee. Forgotten Allies: The Military Contribution of the Colonies, Exiled Governments and Lesser Powers to the Allied Victory in World War II. McFarland & Company, 1985. ISBN 978-0-89950-117-8.
- Answering the Call, Stephen L. Wilson, 2007. Merriam Press.
- Global Security on the Fifth Army
- 5th Army Antiaircraft, Salerno to Florence, 9 September 1943 – 8 September 1944 (WWII history booklet)
- Fifth Army official website
- The "Blue Lapa" brazilian documentary about BEF – Brazilian Expeditionary Force in WWII subtitled in italian and english languages
- The short film Big Picture: This is Fifth Army is available for free download at the Internet Archive more