Organized Reserve units have served in Puerto Rico since 1922, when the 373rd Infantry, a World War I National Army unit, was allotted to the Organized Reserves and organized with the San Juan headquarters. Between July 14, 1939 and July 7, 1945, 513 officers and 119 enlisted men from the Organized Reserve in Puerto Rico served in World War II. It was during the decade of the 1940’s that the Organized Reserve in Puerto Rico was re-designated as the Army Reserve in Puerto Rico, but without a Headquarters. Reserve units like the 448th Engineer Battalion and 346th Transportation Battalion were activated, but, the units were self-administrated and reported directly to the Commanding General, Antilles Command.
In the 1950’s, the 324th Logistical Command was activated as the Headquarters for reserve forces in Puerto Rico. Although the headquarters was assigned to the Antilles Command, reserve units continued to be self-administrated and reported directly to the Antilles Command.
In the early 60’s, both the Antilles Command and the Reserve Forces reported to the Commander of Fort Buchanan. In December 1965, the 324th Logistical Command was inactivated and once again the reserve forces were left without a Headquarters. The lack of a headquarters to provide mission and training objectives led a provisional group of enterprising officers, most of them from the inactivated 324th, to organize annual training and camps for the reserve forces.
On March 31, 1968, the 166th Support Group was activated by order of the Secretary of Defense, as a result of a general reorganization of the United States Army Reserve. It’s first commander, Colonel José Bosch, was given command and control of all assigned and attached reserve units in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The 166th Support Group was headquartered at the Fort Buchanan Army Garrison Headquarters under the control of the U.S. Navy. In December 1969, the 166th Support Group was re-organized and placed under the control of Third U.S. Army. From February 1970 through March 1972, the Group Headquarters was relocated from Fort Buchanan to the 600-man center in Puerto Nuevo but, in March 1972 it was moved back to Fort Buchanan.
In 1973, the 166th Support Group was again re-organized and aligned under First U.S. Army. However, the 166th Support Group Commander reported to First Army through the Commander of Headquarters, Fort Buchanan Army Garrison, who reported to Forces Command. On 14 July 1973, Colonel Antonio Rodríguez-Baliñas took command of the 166th Support Group and 5 months later, December 1973, the Support Group was placed directly under the command of First U.S. Army. The new commander was determined to develop and grow the reserve forces in Puerto Rico. During this time the reserve had a strength of 1,300 Soldiers and consisted of the 166th Support Group, 448th Engineer Battalion, 346th Transportation Battalion, 369th Station Hospital, 268th Transportation Co., 264th CCS Co., 338th Finance Section and three Military Police Hospital Guard units in St. Thomas and St. Croix.
Finally in 1974, the 166th Support Group was given full command and control of all Army Reserve units in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and given the mission and functions of a major U.S. Army Reserve Command, under First U.S. Army. This was accomplished through the hard work and leadership of Colonel Rodriguez-Baliñas who wanted full autonomy for the Army Reserve Forces in Puerto Rico. Fulfilling his vision of growth and development, there was an unprecedented expansion of units in the island. The command grew to twenty-seven Company and Detachment sized units. The next generation units were: the 301st Military Police Company, 432nd Transportation Company, 429th Personnel Service Company, 699th Engineer Company and the 491st General Supply Company. Also, various Army Reserve Centers were established at the Roosevelt Roads Naval Station, Ramey Air Force Base, Fort Allen and Fort Buchanan. The authorized strength soared to 5,500 troops.
On February 1977, the Army Reserve Forces in Puerto Rico became a General Officer Command with the establishment of the Office of the First U.S. Army Deputy Commander with Brigadier General Antonio Rodríguez-Baliñas as its first General Officer. The 166th Support Group remained the major headquarters under the Office of the Deputy Commander. Two years later the Army Reserve Forces in Puerto Rico won the Best Major U.S. Army Reserve Command Award. This was also a time of aggressive civic action programs with multiple engineering efforts and medical assistance being provided to municipalities deep within the island’s heartland.
On July 24, 1980, Colonel Augusto Gautíer assumed command. With his promotion in August 1981, he became the second general officer to command the Army Reserve forces in Puerto Rico. On April 16, 1981, the 166th Support Group was inactivated, and the 7581st U.S. Army Garrison was activated under First U.S. Army. Two years later, Permanent Order 87-3, dated October 1, 1983 placed the 7581st U.S. Army Garrison under the command of Second U.S. Army. Changes were taking place as the command grew. On July 24, 1984, Colonel Félix A. Santoni assumed command of the newly activated 7581st U.S. Army Garrison. He became the third Brigadier General on February 10, 1985.
On August 19, 1987, Colonel Edgardo A. González took command of the 7581st U.S. Army Garrison. He was promoted to Brigadier General on April 18, 1989. Under his command, the 7581st U.S. Army Garrison was inactivated and replaced by the U.S. Army Reserve Forces - Puerto Rico (USARF-PR). It was during his tenure that the command underwent one of its greatest challenges; the mobilization of eight USARF-PR units in support of Operation Desert Storm. From September 1990 through October 1991, over 1,000 Army Reserve Soldiers were activated and deployed in support of the Persian Gulf War.
On August 18, 1991, Colonel Jorge Arzola assumed command of the USARF-PR, with a total strength of over 5,000 Soldiers. He was promoted to Brigadier General on June 3, 1992. Under his command, the Army Reserve forces achieved its vision of “PRIMEROS”, the premier Reserve Command in the Nation. He also accomplished another goal on January 16, 1993; the USARF-PR was inactivated, giving way to the activation of the 65th U.S. Army Reserve Command (ARCOM). With the 65th ARCOM, a new era began for the Army Reserve Forces in Puerto Rico. Numerous unit reorganizations took place and the command readiness brought the ARCOM to its highest level ever.
As time went on, so did the ARCOM. On February 18, 1995, Colonel Luis A. Berríos was designated acting commander of the 65th ARCOM. On May 21, 1995, Colonel Berríos passed the ARCOM Colors to Colonel Paul E. Lima whose “PUSHING THE ENVELOPE OF EXCELLENCE” motto and philosophy sustained the 65th ARCOM as the top ranked ARCOM in the Nation. Brigadier General Lima was promoted on March 15, 1996. In 1997, the command was asked to mobilize Army Reserve Soldiers in support of United Nations efforts in Bosnia. Thirty-two Soldiers from the 35th Signal Battalion were deployed in support of Operation Constant Guard and 32 Soldiers returned home safely.
On March 28, 1998, we harvested our biggest achievement; the designation as the 65th U.S. Army Regional Support Command, the highest designation of an Army Reserve Command. The circle was completed on October 16, 1998 with the activation of the 166th Area Support Group in support of U.S. Army South (USARSO).
On May 24, 1999, Brigadier General Collis N. Phillips took command of over 5,000 Army Reserve Soldiers whom he led through several successful deployments in support of various Department of Defense (DOD) Operations, such as Joint Guard, Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom. In April 2002 he relinquished command to Brigidier General (BG) José M. Rosado.
In late 2003, all Regional Support Commands were re-designated to Regional Readiness Commands. Under the command of BG Rosado, Soldiers were deployed to all parts of the globe in support of our Nation’s needs. We stand ready for any challenge, such as the September 11th terrorist attacks, Operations Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, during which we mobilized nearly 70% of the command. The 65th is a command whose Soldiers are “PRIMEROS” and serve with pride and distinction. A heritage we are proud of, as we continue to enhance readiness and take care of our Soldiers- a Proud, Ready and Relevant Force!