An Introduction to the
U.S. 3rd Armored Division
After fifty years of honored service to the nation, beginning
in 1941, the 3rd Armored Division (3AD) was inactivated, or retired,
in 1992 following the end of the Cold War. Huge budget cuts by
the U.S. Defense Department did what no armed enemy could ever
The 3AD, of course, was not the primary reason for the U.S.
victory in WWII in Europe, or in the Cold War, or in Gulf War
I. In each case, the 3AD was a single cog in a vast and complex
U.S. military machine. But one tough and most special cog it
Of the fifteen U.S. armored divisions in Europe in World War
II, the 3AD saw the most combat, inflicted the most damage, and
took the most casualties. Under legendary commander Maj. Gen.
Maurice Rose, it became known as the "Spearhead" Division
of the American First Army.
During four decades of the Cold War, the Division was NATO's
primary point-guard for the critical Fulda Gap in West Germany.
As one historian wrote, the 3AD "stood eyeball-to-eyeball
against the forces of the Soviet Union."
And in 1990-91, the Division left its German bases for action
in Operation Desert Storm of the Persian Gulf War, attacking
deep into Iraq as a lead element of the U.S. VII Corps. The 3AD
was, at that time, and remains to this day, the largest U.S.
division ever assembled.
Yet, is the 3AD really gone forever? Is the era permanently fading
for the massive, self-contained division with combined armor,
infantry, artillery, and aviation? No one can say for sure. But,
given the unexpected twists and turns of world geopolitics and
as yet unpredictable new military challenges, the Spearhead colors
stand ready to ride again -- in, no doubt, an even more powerful
and more flexible, high-tech form.
The 3AD may be retired, but its enduring legacy and long colorful
history has few equals among all U.S. military units, past and
present. This foundation and website is dedicated to that legacy
and that history, and to the veterans who served with Spearhead
-- over 40,000 soldiers in WWII & early occupation of Germany;
over 220,000 in the Cold War with the defense of Western Europe;
and 22,533 during the Gulf War's Operation Desert Storm of 1991.
by 3AD.com Staff