Fort Bragg is a large United States Army installation, located in Cumberland, Hoke, Harnett and Moore counties, North Carolina, mostly in Fayetteville but also partly in the town of Spring Lake. It was also a census-designated place in the 2010 Census, during which a population of 39,457 was identified. The fort is named for Confederate general Braxton Bragg. It covers over . It is the home of the US Army airborne forces and Special Forces, as well as U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command.
World War I
Camp Bragg was established in 1918, as an artillery training ground. The aim was for six artillery brigades to be stationed there and $6,000,000 was spent on the land and cantonments. There was an airfield on the camp used by aircraft and balloons for artillery spotters which was named Pope Field on April 1, 1919 in honor of First Lieutenant Harley H. Pope an airman who was killed while flying nearby. The work on the camp was finished on November 1, 1919. It was named to honor a native North Carolinian, Gen. Braxton Bragg, who commanded Confederate States Army forces in the Civil War.
The original plan for six brigades was abandoned after World War I ended and once demobilisation had started. The artillery men, their equipment and material from Camp McClellan, Alabama were moved over to Fort Bragg and testing began on long range weapons that were a product of the war. The six artillery brigades were reduced to two containments and a garrison was to be built for Army troops as well as a National Guard training center. In early 1921 two field artillery units the 13th and 17th Field Artillery Brigades began training at Camp Bragg.
Due to the post war cutbacks the camp was nearly closed for good when the War department issued orders to close the camp on August 7, 1921. General Albert J. Bowley was commander at the camp and after much campaigning, and getting the Secretary of War to visit the camp, the closing order was cancelled on September 16, 1921. The Field Artillery Board was transferred to Fort Bragg on February 1, 1922.
Camp Bragg was renamed Fort Bragg, to signify becoming a permanent Army post, on September 30, 1922. From 1923 to 1924, permanent structures were constructed on Fort Bragg, including four barracks, which still stand today.
World War II
By 1940, the population of Fort Bragg had reached 5,400; However, in the following year, that number ballooned to 67,000. Various units trained at Fort Bragg during World War II, including the 9th Infantry Division, 2nd Armored Division, 82nd Airborne Division, 100th Infantry Division, and various field artillery groups. The population reached a peak of 159,000 during the war years.
Following World War II, the 82nd Airborne Division was permanently stationed at Fort Bragg, the only large unit there for some time. In July 1951, the XVIII Airborne Corps was reactivated at Fort Bragg. Fort Bragg became a center for unconventional warfare, with the creation of the Psychological Warfare Center in April 1952, followed by the 10th Special Forces Group.
In 1961, the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was activated at Fort Bragg, with the mission of training counter-insurgency forces in Southeast Asia. Also in 1961, the "Iron Mike" statue, a tribute to all Airborne soldiers, past, present and future, was dedicated. More than 200,000 young men underwent basic combat training here during the period 1966–70. At the peak of the Vietnam War in 1968, Fort Bragg's military population rose to 57,840. In June 1972, the 1st Corps Support Command arrived at Fort Bragg.
In the 1980s, there was a series of deployments of tenant units to the Caribbean, first to Grenada in 1983, Honduras in 1986, and to Panama in 1989. The 5th Special Forces Group departed Fort Bragg in the late 1980s.
Southwest Asia wars
In 1990, the XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division deployed to Saudi Arabia in support of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm. In the mid and late 1990s, there was increased modernization of the facilities in Fort Bragg. The World War II wooden barracks were largely removed, a new main post exchange was built, and Devers Elementary School was opened, along with several other projects.
Following the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, the units on Fort Bragg have seen a sizeable increase to their operations tempo (OPTEMPO), with units conducting two, three, or even four or more deployments to combat zones. As directed by law, and in accordance with the recommendations of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission, Fort McPherson, Ga., closed and U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command relocated to Fort Bragg, N.C. A new FORSCOM/U.S. Army Reserve Command Headquarters facility completed construction at Fort Bragg, N.C., in June 2011. Forces Command hosted June 24, 2011 an Army "casing of colors ceremony" on Fort McPherson, Ga., and an "uncasing of colors ceremony" Aug 1, 2011 on Fort Bragg, N.C. On March 1, 2011, Pope Field, the former Pope Air Force Base was absorbed into Fort Bragg.