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5332nd Brigade (Provisional)

Page Created
July 12th, 2022
Last Updated
July 19th, 2022
United States
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Additional Information
5332nd Brigade (Provisional)
Order of Battle

Interactive Page
Badge Mars Task Force
July 26th, 1944
June 11th, 1945
Theater of Operations
Organisational History

The 5332nd Brigade (Provisional) is activated on July 26th, 1944. With Merril’s Marauders as their predecessor, it is designed as Long Range Penetration Group, but with the lessons learned from the British/Indian Chindits of General Wingate and Merrill’s Marauders of General Frank Merrill in their Burma jungle operations. The unit is placed under command of Brigadier General Thomas A. Arms.

The unit was a combination of the surviving veteran jungle fighters of Merrill’s Marauders and the freshness of the volunteers and the assignment of the 124th Cavalry Regiment. The remains of the Marauders are organised in the 475th Infantry regiment (Long Range Penetration, Special). The unit is activated on August 10th, 1944, in Ledo, India. It is assigned to the Northern Combat Area Command and from there to the 5332nd Brigade, (Provisional).

The 124th Cavalry Regiment (Special), is inducted into federal service at Houston, Texas as the 124th Cavalry Regiment (Horse). From there it is moved to Fort Bliss, Texas on November 18th, 1940. On November 18th, 1940, the unit is placed under command of the 56th Cavalry Brigade. It moves to Fort Brown, Texas on February 5th, 1941, and returns to Fort Bliss, Texas a few months later on May 19th, 1941. Between August 12th, 1941, and October 2nd, 1941, the unit participates in the Louisiana Maneuvers and from there it is sent to Fort Brown, Texas again. It arrives here on October 4th, 1941. Between November 4th, 1943, and December 22nd, 1943, it serves at Fort D.A. Russell, Texas and returns to Fort Brown, Texas afterwards. It then transfers to Fort Riley, Kansas on May 12th, 1944, under the Fourth Army. On July 10th, 1944, the regiment moves to Camp Anza, California where it stays until it departs from Los Angeles on July 25th, 1944. The unit arrives in India on August 26th, 1944, where it is attached to the 5332nd Brigade (Provisional). At the LRPG tactics at the Ramgarh Training Center, India, it is redesignated and reorganised between September 20th, 1944, and September 25th, 1944, as the 124th Cavalry Regiment (Special).

On paper there was a third regiment attached to 5332nd Brigade (Provisional), the 1st Chinese Regiment, (Sep). This unit, commanded by Colonel Lin Kuan-hsiang, was originally a Mortar Regiment but like the 124th Cavalry Regiment, it is trained in LRPG tactics at the Ramgarh Training Center in India. However, the 5332nd Brigade (Provisional) was never permitted to employ the 1st Chinese Regiment (Sep). The unit was kept in reserve by the Northern Area Combat Command (NCAC). The 1st Chinese Regiment is later on in the war attached to the Chinese 50th Division where it demonstrates its ability, climaxing in the campaign by securing Kyaukme and linking with the 36th Indian Infantry Division (British). This closed an East-West line, Mong Yai-Hsipaw-Kyaukme-Monglong-Mo-Gok. Their actions give the British the opportunities to turn to the Southwest and join with the forces of the 14th Army, to establish the line, Mong Yai-Hsipaw-Kyaukme-Mamyo-Mandalay, to terminate the Japanese conquest of Northern and North Central Burma.

Therefor the Brigade is organised with two combat regiments. However, unlike the 5307th Composite Unit (Provisional), the 5332nd receives supporting units to make it self-sufficient. Each regiment has mule pack Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) of approximately 460 men each attached to them. The 612th Field Artillery Battalion (Pack) is attached to the 475th Infantry regiment (LRP, Special) while 613th Field Artillery Battalion (Pack) is attached to the 124th Cavalry Regiment (Special). These FAB’s are a natural choice for the 5332nd since they were designed from the start to be part of an Army Special Operations unit. Both regiments also receive a Portable Surgical Hospital, a war dog detachement and three Platoons Kachin Rangers from OSS Detachment 101. The latter is to be used as an intelligence and reconnaissance force. Headquarters group receives a Veterinary Evacuation Hospital, additional medical services in the form of B Company of the 13th Medical Mountain Battalion and the 511th Medical Collecting Company and a Japanese Translation and Interrogation Team. It also receives the 164th Signal Photo Company that has to cover the story of the unit.

Even during the training period, after a motor vehicle accident, Brigadier General Thomas A. Arms is replaced by Brigadier General John P. Willey on October 31st, 1944. With all supporting units assigned and attached, the 5332nd Brigade (Provisional) now also known as the MARS Task Force is combat-ready. The 475th Infantry regiment begins moving south into Japanese-controlled Burma in late November 1944. In the middle of December, the 124th Cavalry Regiment follows them.

After the military operations in Burma the 5332nd Brigade (Provisional) flies to China where they are tasked with training the Chinese Army. Here it is disbanded on June 11th, 1945. The units within the Brigade (Both the 475th Infantry Regiment and 124th Cavalry Regiment and their attached units) are disbanded on July 1st, 1945.