Retired Lt. Gen. Pete Taylor took command of III Corps shortly after several corps units were returning from combat operations during Desert Storm in June 1991.
Taylor commanded the corps until the end of October 1993 and oversaw many changes to the corps as the Army was reshaping its forces during the drawdown near the end of the Cold War. At the time, corps assets were the 4th Infantry Division, the 2nd Armored Division, the 5th Infantry Division (mechanized), the 37th Infantry Division, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 1st Cavalry Division.
“Most of that time was spent getting the forces back into their respective posts and getting them ready by training for the next war,” Taylor said. “Units started going to the National Training Center.”
Taylor said aside from redeploying the 1st Cavalry Division, 3rd Cavalry Regiment and 37th Infantry Division from the Middle East, overseeing the shutdown of the 2nd Armored Division and moving the 5th Infantry Division to Fort Hood were the most significant events during his time as corps commander.
“We moved the 5th Infantry Division to Fort Hood. That was the entire division,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the 2nd Armored Division was inactivated in 1992, and the 5th Infantry Division at Fort Polk, Louisiana, was reflagged as the 2nd Armored Division and moved to Fort Hood. In 1995, the 4th Infantry Division moved to Fort Hood, and the 2nd Armored Division was inactivated with its remaining forces combining with the 4th Infantry Division.
“That was the biggest accomplishment as corps commander,” Taylor said. “No one man does any of this. The biggest accomplishment the corps made at that time was moving the division from Fort Polk to Fort Hood. That involved an awful lot of people that includes the commands above us and the folks in the corps and down at Fort Polk. It was a team effort.”
Taylor said at the time the corps still had a Middle East mission.
“I had my deputy commander and the corps advance headquarters over in Kuwait,” Taylor said. “We had some equipment stored over there and a brigade had to be prepared to deploy to the Middle East within 72 hours, which we did practice that deployment when Saddam made a second run at the Kuwait border.”
Taylor said during his command the corps headquarters went on the last Reforger exercise in 1993.
Exercise Reforger was an annual exercise during the Cold War by NATO. The exercise was to ensure NATO could quickly deploy forces to West Germany in the event of a conflict with the Warsaw Pact.
“The wall was coming down and they eliminated the Reforger exercise,” Taylor said. “In my early years as the corps commander I had to go and visit Northern Army Group in Europe every other quarter.”
Taylor said III Corps had the mission of reinforcing NATO in northern Germany if the Warsaw Pact attacked. When the Berlin Wall came down, things got a lot quieter during that period and the corps’ focus shifted.
“We had far less of a focus on Europe and more on the Middle East,” Taylor said. “The corps also took on a mission to deploy to the Republic of Korea if required. That was another piece of training that we picked up that the corps had not been involved in before.”
Taylor said the corps was vital to the defense of the nation. It’s the only armored corps the U.S. Army has.
“As you see, its been called on frequently. We’ve had people deployed all over the world since 9/11,” Taylor said. “Even when I commanded the corps, when we would go to Europe, the corps had more combat power than most of the nations that we dealt with.”
Taylor said the corps has continually been valuable to national defense and has honed several great Army commanders. “Several of them have gone on to be senior commanders at Forces Command or the Department of the Army,” he said. “Some have become chief of staff of the Army. Its been the training ground for our nations leaders both enlisted and officers.”
Taylor said he was proud to have served the corps and community and ended up staying and living in the Fort Hood area.
“The community has continued to support the corps and Fort Hood in a major way,” Taylor said.