California Milita and National Guard Unit Histories
Regimental Systems of the California National Guard

US Army Regimental System in the California Army National Guard
By Lt. Col. Danny M. Johnson, USA (Ret), Army Historian

United esprit de corps and unit cohesion are essential characteristics of an effective fighting organization. Military history has demonstrated that units with high esprit, a sense of tradition and pride in past achievements perform well in combat. The goal of an effective regimental system is to provide soldiers with a personnel system that foster unit readiness and combat effectiveness by developing in soldiers a sense of loyalty and commitment which comes from long-term identification with a unit.

The regiment as a clearly defined military unit emerged in the late Middle Ages. During this period the regiment came to be a basic building block of many state military machines, very much as the legion had performed the same function for Imperial Rome. The word "regiment" is derived from the Latin word regimen, meaning a rule or a system of order. In most armies it denoted a body of troops headed by a colonel and organized into companies, battalions or squadrons. French cavalry units were designated with the title as early as 1558. During the European conflict known as the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the regiment came into its own as the basic organizational unit in European armies and remained so for the next 250 years.

While the battalion became the basic tactical unit in most armies, its parent unit, the regiment became the principal instrument of garrison administration: recruiting, training and centralizing wartime command. As armies became permanent royal (later national) organizations and professional in character, regDAiments (especially those with an illustrious history of achievements in combat) increasingly became objects of institutional loyalty, pride and esprit, particularly among their leaders. Both state and arm consciously promoted cohesiveness by endowing each regiment with a distinctive name, number, colors, uniform and insignia.

A regimental system provides not only the opportunity for soldiers to develop a long-term identification with a regiment but the potential for recurring assignments and the opportunity to highlight the history, customs and traditions behind the regiments. The US Army developed the Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS), which was the method of assigning unit designations to units of the five combat arms (Infantry, Field Artillery, Armor, Cavalry, and Air Defense Artillery) of the United States Army from 1957 to 1981. The Combat Arms Regimental System was superseded by the U.S. Army Regimental System (USARS) in 1981. Aviation became one of combat arms branches on 12 April 1983 and Special Forces in 1987.

In compliance with National Guard Regulation 600-82, the US Army Regimental System (Army National Guard) was implemented within the California Army National Guard under CAL ARNGR 600-82 . This regulation governs the US Army Regimental System (Army National Guard) which includes ARNG combat arms, combat support, combat service support and special branch units and personnel. At present, seven combat arms regiments are allotted to California: 18th Cavalry Regiment, 140th Aviation Regiment, 143d Field Artillery Regiment, 144th Field Artillery Regiment, 160th Infantry Regiment, 184th Infantry Regiment, and 185th Armor Regiment. The Department of the Army recognizes both the 149th Armor Regiment and 159th Infantry Regiment as valid regiments. Both regiments are currently inactive. The 149th Armor Regiment maintains a Regimental Headquarters Association.

USARS is also designed to provide for CS, CSS and special branches to operate on a "whole branch" concept as a corps or special branch, carrying on the activities and traditions of a regiment, offer regimental affiliation to allow soldiers the opportunity for continuous identification with a combat arms regiment, a corps, or special branch throughout their careers. Combat support, combat service support and special branches are organized as whole branches as follows: Acquisition Corps, Adjutant General's Corps, Army Medical Department Regiment, Chaplain Corps, Chemical Corps, Civil Affairs ,Corps of Engineers, Finance Corps, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Logistics, Military Intelligence Corps, Ordnance Corps, Quartermaster Corps, Psychological Operations, Signal Corps, and Transportation Corps.
Added 22 Feb 13

Regimental Property
by Mr. Dan Sebby, Curator, California State Military Museum

Quite often you hear the term, "regimental property". When discussing the regimental system. Normally these items are items such as uniforms, photographs and other souvenirs. This includes small arms that are loaned by individuals to the regiment for display in a regimental room or display case. It does not include items such as:

Regimental activities are encouraged to report all historic and "regimental" property to the California State Military Museum and establish property accountability under the museum's PastPerfect Museum Management Program. Questions concerning this process should be directed to Mr. Dan Sebby at (916) 854-1904, DSN 466-1904 or E-mail

Added 22 Feb 13

Previous Regimental Systems in the California National Guard
by Chief Warrant Officer 4 James E. Hribal
To better understand unit histories, one needs to know something of the system of assigning numerical designations to units, as those numbers tend to reappear frequently. Knowledge of the various regimental systems is necessary to understand the unit's Campaign Credits (known unofficially as Battle Honors). Just prior to the Second World War, National Guard divisions were still organized under the "square" concept of four infantry regiments per division as it was established during the First World War. In the meantime, Regular Army divisions had been converted to the "triangular" format of three infantry regiments. In reality, many of the Regular Army divisions' regiments existed "on paper" and were one regiment short at the time of mobilization.
When it was mobilized in 1940, the 40th Division consisted of the 160th and 185th Infantry Regiments in Southern California, and the 159th and 184th Infantry Regiments in the north. These four regiments were further placed under the control of 79th and 80th Brigades as a token intermediate headquarters. The two brigade headquarters ceased to exist in February 1942 when the division completed the conversion to a "triangular" organization. However, true to tradition, those brigade numbers returned in 1968 as the 79th and 80th Rear Area Operations Centers (RAOC).
As a result of the reorganization, the 40th Division was excess one regiment. The first California regiment to leave the division was the 159th Infantry Regiment. Later the following year, the 184th Infantry Regiment was also relieved from the 40th Infantry Division, as it was now known. It was replaced by the 108th Infantry Regiment of the New York National Guard. All told, there were 17 "spare" National Guard regiments after the conversions were completed. Some of these were used to form new divisions such as The Americal Division. Some, such as the 184th, were used to fill out Regular Army divisions. And finally, some were to fight the war as separate regiments. Such was the case of the 159th Infantry Regiment (Motorized).
Reorganizations continued throughout the war as the Army continued to modify its structures. Support elements within the division were given a three digit number, usually a 2, 3, 5, or 7 depending on the type of unit in front of the division's numerical designation. Thus, the 115th Ordnance Company became the 740th Ordnance Light Maintenance Company in 1942. After World War II, California gained a second infantry division, the 49th. This division would consist of the 159th, 184th, and 185th Infantry Regiments. The 40th would retain the Los Angeles based 160th Infantry Regiment and gain two new ones, the 223rd and 224th. Those numbers would also reappear in the 1980s as the 223d Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist) and the 224th Transportation Detachment (Movement Control).
Creation of the 49th brought the need for new support units and, using the established numbering system, the 749th Ordnance Company, later the 749th Maintenance Battalion, appeared. Company C of that battalion later evolved as one of the parents of the current group headquarters company. Our very number, in the practice of retaining historical regimental numbers, can be traced to the 115th Quartermaster Regiment of the 1930s and early 1940s.
Knowledge of other structural changes will help promote an understanding of the evolution of the modern Army. Up until the late 1950s, infantry divisions retained the "triangular" structure of three "fixed" regiments in which the letter designated companies were organic to the regiment's battalions:
Special Troops
 Regimental HQ Company
Service Company
Medical Company
Mortar Company
Tank Company
 Headquarters Company
Company A
Company B
Company C
Company D (Heavy Weapons)
 Headquarters Company
Company E
Company F
Company G
Company H (Heavy Weapons)
 Headquarters Company
Company I
Company K
Company L
Company M (Heavy Weapons)
NOTE: Why is there no “J” Company in the U.S. Army? The U.S. Army started lettering its companies in 1816. Since a hand-written “J” looked so much like “I” the letter J was not used, in order to avoid confusion.
Armored divisions, on the other hand, were composed of three lettered (A, B, and C) "Combat Commands" that were completely flexible in that they had no organic units and were assigned separate numbered battalions in the proper mix of tanks and armored infantry for the mission given. When the 40th Infantry Division became an armored division on 1 June 1954, there appeared separate numbered battalions such as the 161st Armored Infantry Battalion and the 133d Tank Battalion.
In 1959 a new concept emerged under the title "Reorganizations of Army Divisions" (ROAD). The view at the time was that "Atomic" warfare required smaller, more flexible units. Regiments disappeared from the divisions to be replaced by five "Battle Groups". This was also known as the "Pentomic" concept. Armored divisions remained unchanged since they possessed the required flexibility already.
The Pentomic structure of battle groups proved to be too cumbersome for command and control and it too disappeared on 1 March 1963 with the "Reorganization of Combat Arms Divisions" (ROCAD). Now all divisions were organized in a flexible triangular form, similar to that which previously existed in armored divisions. It consisted of the three brigades with battalions attached as needed.
There was one more change to make. The Army decided that units needed some sense of history and tradition. So, in 1968 regimental numbers were revived under the "Combat Arms Regimental System" (CARS). This didn't revive the structure of a regiment as a combat formation. But, it did provided a more positive link to the unit's past by converting units from separately numbered battalions to battalions of a parent "regiment". Later, this was enhanced by the U.S. Army Regimental System. The men of the today's 1st Battalion, 143rd Field Artillery Regiment or 1st Battalion (Air Assault), 184th Infantry Regiment have historical links to the soldiers of the "old" 143rd Field Artillery and 184th Infantry Regiments.


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Updated 8 February 2016