Retired Lt. Gen. Paul E. “Butch” Funk Sr. reflected on his tenure as the III Corps commander as the 100th anniversary of the armored corps approached.
Funk, the father of III Corps’ current commander, Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, was in charge of the corps from October 1993 to mid-December 1995.
During the elder Funk’s command, the corps had about 162,000 soldiers organized into four active divisions, four National Guard divisions, a cavalry regiment and corps artillery, which consisted of five artillery brigades that were being equipped with Army Tactical Missile Systems, increasing their attack range from 45 to more than 100 kilometers.
“It was the most powerful combat corps in the world,” Funk said. “Nobody had seen the power of a U.S. Army armored corps, and we were at the height of our combat strength at that time.”
Funk said at the time there was no comparison between U.S. armored divisions and Russian, or at the time Soviet, divisions.
“It was really tremendous,” Funk said. “They were only about two-thirds the combat power we had, and none of them had the capabilities we had because of the attack helicopters and because we had six battalions and the air cavalry regiment.”
Funk said the U.S. had more combat power then ever before, comparable only to the VII Corps during Operation Desert Storm.
During that period, each one of the corps’ divisions were equipped with 348 main battle tanks, 300 Bradley fighting vehicles and three artillery battalions with 24 artillery guns per battalion. “There was never anything like it,” Funk said. “This corps could fight. We were reasonably in good shape readiness wise; the equipment wasn’t old, it was new.”
There were no major conflicts during Funk’s command, but the corps still played a vital role in the world.
“Our mission was to support the U.S. forces and Republic of Korea forces in Korea, and specifically to support it with our tremendous indirect artillery fire assets against the North Korean army,” Funk said.
Funk said the best thing about the corps during his time commanding it was the training, which was one of his goals when he arrived.
“We were trained and ready to fight. The corps was in good shape when I came, and I feel like we continued that and certainly added to the readiness with the additional funding,” Funk sad. There were 38,310 leaders in the corps, so I had a lot of help and I don’t think we’ve ever been as a mounted force as well trained across the army as we were at that time. That to me was the greatest achievement and most important thing.”
He also worked hard at organizing the command to provide good support to the soldiers and their families and developed goals and objectives to run the installation and corps for the next five years. “We continued to grow the amount of money to build things like the great training center and by focusing on making the corps combat ready,” Funk said.
Since that time, Funk said, the Army had made some major cutbacks across the Army.
Funk said at that time the U.S. Army had approximately 7,000 main battle tanks in the active force compared to now with less than 1,200 in the active force.
“They started taking the Army apart right after I left, but that’s what it was like when I was the corps commander,” Funk said. “Nobody had that kind of combat power in a standard corps anywhere in the world.”
“We have since almost disarmed compared to that except for III Corps, which still remains a very powerful armored corps, but we don’t have the equivalent around the army that we had then,” Funk said.
Funk believes III Corps is more important than it’s ever been but hopes some combat power can be restored to the rest of the Army.
“When they call it ‘America’s Hammer,’ when they talk about the armored corps, we are the only one left,” Funk said. “When you fight somebody serious like North Korea, you will need everything the III Corps has and then some. If you had to go against the modern Russian army, I promise you that you need III Corps. I think it’s vital.”
Funk also wants to ensure everybody understands the sacrifices then and now the Army families make and how this community had stepped up after Desert Storm and continues to do so, to help the soldiers and the families here. “That story is an important part of the entire Fort Hood story,” Funk said. “We had great cooperation and relationships with the community and I don’t think we can stress enough the importance of the spouses and children of the soldiers and how they contribute not only to the soldiers and their families but to the communities. None of us would be in this area if it weren’t for Fort Hood. I started here as a lieutenant and I left as a corps commander.”