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Second Army cases colors for fourth time

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (April 03, 2017) -- The Second Army cased its colors Friday at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and was inactivated for the fourth time in its nearly 100-year history.

"Today is not an end, but the recognition of another chapter in Second Army's distinguished history. The legacy and spirit of Second Army will live on in the men and women of Army Cyber Command," said Lt. Gen. Paul M. Nakasone, commander of Army Cyber Command, during the casing ceremony.

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The Second Army was last activated in 2014 to improve command and control between Army Cyber Command and the Army's Network Enterprise Technology Command, with the ARCYBER commander being dual-hatted as the commander of Second Army. NETCOM was assigned to Second Army.

But the move, to make Second Army the parent organization for NETCOM, was a unique situation that had never happened in the Army as it was not technically assigned any Soldiers.

At the time, the commander of ARCYBER opted to use his staff from ARCYBER to also run Second Army.

"In our case, we were not in accordance with the regular process," said Dr. Lawrence M. Kaplan, the ARCYBER command historian. "There was no precedent for this in Army history."

Nevertheless, while activated for only about three years, the Second Army served an important role by allowing for the facilitation of a better command and control relationship between ARCYBER and NETCOM.

Today, that relationship is even stronger. Now, NETCOM reports directly to ARCYBER. And ARCYBER serves as an Army Service Component Command responsible for operating and defending all of Army networks, as well as delivering defensive and offensive cyberspace effects in support of the Army and the joint force. ARCYBER is an Army service component to the joint U.S. Strategic Command and closely supports U.S. Cyber Command, which is located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Kaplan said that the inactivation of Second Army facilitates command and control, and will "improve the ability of Army Cyber Command to operate and defend all Army networks."

But it wasn't a fluke that Second Army was involved with ARCYBER since its creation, back in 2010. There is an important relationship there, Kaplan said. And that relationship is that it is common in the Army for commands, such as ARCYBER, to "associate" with historical units like the Second Army.

In a typical implementation of such an association, Kaplan said, the Second Army would not be activated. Instead, ARCYBER would receive the "lineage and honors" associated with Second Army.

"It's the bragging rights, if you will, to be associated with Second Army," Kaplan said. Those bragging rights, Kaplan said, allow ARCYBER to hang on its own flag a campaign streamer earned by Soldiers with the Second Army back in World War I.

While Second Army inactivated Friday at Fort Belvoir, and cased its colors, ARCYBER does continue to get to associate with its history. And that is common across the Army, Kaplan said.

"The thing to keep in mind is the system of lineage and honors has been used throughout the Army to associate linage and honors of units with other units," he said. "That's been going on a long time. And units should be proud of their affiliations."


The Second U.S. Army began as a fighting army on the battlefields of France in the waning days of World War I.

Eager to maintain a hard-fought momentum to drive the Germans out of France, on October 10, 1918, Gen. John "Black Jack" Pershing, then the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, selected Lt. Gen. Robert L. Bullard to command the newly-activated Second Army, AEF.

Bullard, a Spanish-American War veteran, earned Pershing's confidence and reputation as an aggressive commander after leading the 1st Infantry Division during the battle of Cantigny.

At Cantigny, Bullard delivered the first American victory of the war. Bullard's orders for Second Army were to hold the line on a portion of the St. Mihiel sector along the Lorraine front.

In November, Pershing ordered Second Army to advance toward Metz. Bullard subsequently launched rigorous attacks against the Germans on November 10. The 7th, 28th, 33d and 92d divisions, then on the Second Army front, began the attacks.

Encountering stubborn resistance, Second Army made a considerable advance, recovering a total of approximately 25 square miles of French territory before the armistice terminated hostilities on November 11.

During its first month of combat operations, 102 soldiers serving under Second Army earned the Distinguished Service Cross. After the armistice, Second Army occupied an area in Belgium and Luxembourg, remaining there until the end of March 1919, and demobilized in France in April 1919.

During World War II, Second Army served as a training army, and trained 11 corps, 55 divisions, and 2,000 smaller units of all arms and services, composed of almost a million men, for employment in all theaters of operation.

During its history, Second Army has undergone several name changes. It was Second Army from 1918 to 1957; Second United States Army from 1957 to 2014; and Second Army from 2014 to 2017.

(Editor's note: Dr. Lawrence M. Kaplan contributed the history of the Second U.S. Army that is included in this article.)

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