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9th Infantry Division (Motorized)

Originally activated during the US buildup of World War One, the 9th Infantry Division would see numerous activations and deactivations up until its final casing of the Division colors in 1992. The 9th ID engaged in combat in World War Two and the Viet Nam conflict but the 1980s were a period of experimentation where the Division served as the US Army’s High Technology Test Bed and was designated the only Motorized Division.  This included the use of Fast Attack Vehicles shown above.  Unfortunately, the force structure, while nimble, could not stand up to enemy fires or the armored threats prevalent at the time.  

Are there any 9ID vets reading SSD?

21 Responses to “9th Infantry Division (Motorized)”

  1. Jon says:

    Several of my commanders in the guard were part of the 9th when stationed at Fort Ord….They not only had the original DPVs but also were the test bed for Recon motorcycle troops. Too bad we gave fort ord back to Cal Berkley.

    • Terry Baldwin says:


      The 9th was not at Ft Ord, the 7th ID was. I don’t think the 7th ever used the dune buggies. They were called FAVs in the 9th ID tests as mentioned about. The DPV (Desert Patrol Vehicle) was a SEAL term for the similar buggies they used in the 90s.


      • SSD says:

        Correct on all accounts.

      • Jon says:

        Ah you are right. I had to re-look at the units. I just remember them mentioning motorcycles and such back in the day and I thought that was pretty “command and conquer-ish” for a kid who grew up in the 90s. Thanks for the correction!

      • Craig says:

        When I was in the 2/10th Cavalry,7th Inf Div LRS in the mid-80’s, there was talk that the ground teams were going to possibly be getting the “Dune Buggies” (FAV’s), but, I (unfortunately for me) left 86-87ish.

        So whether or not this ever came to be,or was just another rumor,or even something that was GOING to be, but was cancelled last minute,maybe someone else who came into the LRSD when it changed over from 2/10 Cav,to actual 107th MI Bn LRS can answer…?

  2. Terry Baldwin says:

    2/47 Inf, 1978-80 when the 9th was still mostly a straight leg Infantry Division (there was one Armor and one Mech Bn in the Division).

    9th ID at the time was about the lowest priority of the 18 Divisions in the US Army. We were the tip of the spear of the “hollow Army”.

    Just to illustrate. When I got there in Oct 78 as a SGT, E-5 with a year or so time in grade I became the Platoon Sergeant for a rifle platoon of only 18 men.

    I had one SGT, junior to me and a Corporal for NCOs and no Lieutenant. We only had two officers in the Company. A 1LT as Company Commander and a 2LT as the XO.

    It was a great leadership OJT experience for me and I probably learned more than I have in any other single assignment. But my troopers had to also suffer from my lack of experience and formal training.

    I lost my job when the order came down to “zero out” the 3rd PLTs of each rifle company in the fall of 79. As I was PCSing in 80 they had started to zero out the Charlie Companies.

    That was the lowest point. Things got better for the 9th during the Test Bed era when they received some prioritization for resources. I’m glad they cased the colors on a somewhat higher note.


  3. AbnMedOps says:

    I was not in 9th ID, but as a cadet training at Ft. Lewis in the mid-80’s, saw a lot of the “Test Bed” Division. Once saw a UH-60 slinging what appeared to be a six-pack of the dune buggy based FAV’s (Fast Attack Vehicles). First place we encountered the new HMMWV (pickup version sometimes mounted a Mk 19 40mm, or an MG, and carried a squad or fire team). Yes, perhaps not the best to slug it out with the Soviets in the Fulda Gap, but I have always thought that exactly this model of light vehicle mobility is exactly what the 82nd (and all out light forces) should have. Not for every mission, but owned organically, regularly trained, and on the rack ready to go!

    • The Army has actually been looking at a vehicle to outfit airborne and light infantry squads to have increased tactical mobility. Check out the UCLV. SSD has had some articles.

      Great idea, sadly I don’t think it will happen (money). It’s a shame. Would be a game changer in forced entry and the early days of a conflict before the IED’s show up.

      • straps says:


        “Would be a game changer in forced entry and the early days of a conflict before the IED’s show up.”

  4. Kirk says:

    I was in 15th Engineer Battalion at the tail end of the era, before they shut the division down. Looking back on it, it was a watershed period for the Army, and after Desert Storm, everything went downhill until 2001.

    What’s fascinating is to look at the 9th, and realize that it pioneered an awful lot of what became the Stryker Brigade concepts. Unfortunately, they never wanted to pony up for the light armored vehicles the division really needed to function the way they wanted it to. As it was, the concept of how we were supposed to fight would have meant most of us dying, but we’d have done some damage going down. The root problem then, as now, was that the logistics footprint you need to deploy sufficient combat assets into theater is too damn big for our haul capacity.

    That said, the 9th had some good ideas going. The problem was, the totality wasn’t there to make it all work. That came in later, with the Strykers. If we’d gone to war the way we were set up in the late 1980s, there’d have been a bunch of dead troopers obliterated in their unarmored HMMWVs. On the other hand, we’d have done a lot better than a LID deployed to the same battle, being able to move a lot faster and spread out over more terrain.

    It’s an interesting question what they’d have done with the division during Desert Storm–Probably used it for securing the flanks of the sweep north into Iraq, where it would have been a very useful tool. Taking it into Kuwait, or trying to stopgap the Iraqi movement into Saudi Arabia, however? Don’t make me laugh…

  5. FWIW: The XM4 carbine was sired by a Quick Reaction Program filed by the 9ID around April 1983. It was originally framed in terms of a modified XM177E2 with improved furniture and a 1-7″ barrel. The Army’s Armament Research and Development Center (ARDC) reviewed the QRP in June 1983 and noted that the XM177E2 would need additional modifications beyond those cited by 9ID. ARDC recommended additional commonality with the M16A2, as well as lengthening the barrel to 14.5″. In January 1984, 9ID revised the QRP and redesignated the proposed 5.56mm carbine as the XM4 Carbine. The Army formally approved the revised QRP in February 1984.

    • Kirk says:

      And, the original intent, per the folks doing that was that it would go primarily to combat support troops. As in artillery, engineers, and other such sorts–The plan was for the M16A2 to remain the primary arm for the Infantry. Or, so we were being briefed back in the day.

      It’s really interesting to sit back and contemplate how much gear we have today came out of the 9th ID. The Gore-Tex parka? The Gore-Tex boot? All 9th ID. Same-same with the LBV, which came out of the vests they came up with for the FAV drivers. I forget what all they accredited to the division, in terms of equipment, but the list is pretty big. Considering all the major items we validated like the various flavors of tentage and crew shelters…? Not to mention being the guinea pigs for T-Rations and other such things. All that fresh fruit “supplemental rations” you get with the T’s? Thank us–We’re the ones who nearly slaughtered the researchers from Natick when they came out to ask for “feedback” after we ate those damn things for 30 days straight, which was initially all canned.

      • John says:

        When I was in Korea in 98 with 1/9 (mech),we received 10 m4’s, and yes they were to be issued to headquarters platoon.

      • straps says:

        The Danner “Go Devil” Boot, subsequently re-christened the “Fort Lewis” Boot.

  6. Rich says:

    Was with the 9th at North Fort Bco 2/47th, March 1973 to November 1974. No Vehicles, walked everywhere Light Infantry.

  7. dudeabides says:

    Pops was the BDE XO for the 199th during the final year/s. I loved being in Lewis. The biggest threat to 9ID if the ballon ever did go up was mainly Soviet arty and rocket units. Hardly any formations would have survived the preparatory fires to even get to tangle with the enemy armor.

  8. Thomas Madere says:

    Looks sort of like a Lotus Super7 dressed up for battle.

  9. pbr549 says:

    My first assignment was with 2-60 IN, 3rd BDE, 9th ID. That was in 1990. We didn’t have any dune buggies except for the static display in front of 2-1 IN’s BN HQ. All that was left of the 9th ID when I arrived was 3rd BDE, a few months later we reflagged as the 199th Motorized BDE (Separate) and later reflagged to 2nd ACR.

  10. fact275 says:

    Not to trivialize the subject but as a teenager I played a wargame (board game) called “Air Cav” whose designers were enamored of the LID/FAV concept (they probably watched The Delta Force too much). Its Soviet-invade-Iran campaign featured the 9th ID(L) and the American player had a bunch of FAVs and some AH-1s to take on a a Soviet Airborne force with (I think) BMDs. You had to commit forces to sectors and you did not have enough “Air Cav” to cover every woebegone FAV platoon. Suffice it to say, one time playing it, my friend as the Soviet trashed all my FAVs and my air support was all in the wrong place.

  11. m.j. says:

    I served with the 9th ID at Fort Lewis from August 1989 to September 1991 (with a 6 month rotation with TF Reliable Bravo to Hondo thrown in for fun). I was with D Co. 1/9th Avn. until they folded, then with 2/9th Avn. The Hondo trip was with 4/228th Avn. I also went out a few time with Echo Troop 1/9th Cav to Yakima. I liked the Octofoil division – Fort Lewis was a great place in the late 80s/early 90s – lots of fun (at least on the aviation side). Compared to what things were like in West Germany (I served before with the 1st AD), it seemed like our equipment and clothing issue was a bit behind (when we went to Hondo, most of our stuff from CIF was Vietnam issue – brand new 1968 2 quart canteens, green tropical uniforms, etc.).