81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team

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Part of the National Guard, the 81st Heavy Brigade Combat Team is an armor-heavy combat unit with service in the Iraq War and in disaster relief in the December floods in southwest Washington. Its strength is approximately 2900 soldiers, and has been augmented by California National Guard personnel. The unit headquarters is in Seattle, Washington.

It is commanded by Colonel Christopher Fowler, assisted by Command Sergeant Major Raymond Jay, the Senior Enlisted Adviser.


Two battalions mix tanks and armored personnel carriers, in spite of their traditional names.

The third combat battalion does scouting, reconnaissance and surveillance; it is organized as a Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition Squadron (Brigade Combat Team). Its principal scout vehicles are M3 scout vehicles.

Fire support comes from the

Combat support comes from the 81st Brigade Special Troops Battalion and combat service support from the 181st Brigade Support Battalion.


Its immediate predecessor was the 81st Armor Brigade (Separate), Washington Army National Guard, came into existence as a foot infantry unit on 1 January 1968, under the command of Brigadier General Albert Kaye. The history goes back to the multistate 41st Infantry Division of the First World War.

Under the Total Force Concept, the Brigade was partnered to the 9th Infantry Division of the regular Army, until the now-deactivated 9th became the high-technology testbed. Partnership then transferred to the 9th Infantry Division. While the BCT obviously has met contingencies in the Middle East, its principal responsibility is to "round out" the 8th Infantry Division in South Korea.