Military history detachment

Military history detachment

A military history detachment (MHD) is a detachment in the United States Army responsible for collecting documentation of the army in military conflicts for future work by military historians in writing both official and unofficial histories of the Army. United States Army Center of Military History organizes these accounts.[1] MHDs are authorized and given their mission statements by Army Regulation 870-5.[2] As of 2002, there were 22 MHDs in the U.S. Army, 16 of which were Reserve, 5 National Guard and 1 active duty.[3]

In their efforts to document wars, MHDs collect oral histories and operations documents to enable historians to write histories of U.S. military activities.[1]



A Major from a Military History Detachment collecting an oral history from a Kuwaiti colonel about the War in Iraq

The main tasks of the MHDs are:[3]

  1. To conduct and transcribe oral history interviews;
  2. To take photographs;
  3. To collect and accession historical artifacts and documents; and
  4. To provide historical information.


The military history detachments were first found in a form similar to contemporary units in the experimental "Informal and Historical Service units" of the World War II U.S. Army. First formed in April 1944, the U.S. Army formed nine of these units, which consisted of a senior historian, a lieutenant colonel, and a monograph unit consisting of one officer and two enlisted historian and a clerk typist. Along with this central group, a flexible number of contact teams with two enlisted and two commissioned historians helped the units collect materials. Additionally, 36 additional teams, many of which were documenting the Air Force, where formed. The Army committed about 300 personnel to historical units and general. These units were largely autonomous, writing histories based on the standards set by their commanding officers, which varied considerably.[4]

After World War II the Office of the Chief Historian of the Army (OCMH) was formed to help organize the Historical efforts of the Army. Historical units were reorganized like many other post war units, many were deactivated, one remained in the Regular army and 26 units remained in the Army Reserve. These units, unlike their WWII predecessors focused largely on historical source collection, less on the production of manuscripts in support of the Office of the Chief Historian. By 1949, the historical units reorganized consisting of three teams, A, B, and C. The A team consisted of three historians, a clerk and a driver who supported theater historians. The A team would then supervise one or more B teams each of which would support a corps and consisted of a historian, a clerk and a driver, and a similar C team would support division historians.[4]

After the outbreak of the Korean War, the Reserve units were disbanded and two A teams, six B teams and four C teams were organized. However, poor support of the History units made the historical units largely ineffective. The units went through a major reorganization in 1963, and by 1970 thirty five detachments were formed, twenty six of which were operating in Vietnam. They were under the command of the theater commanders but were given training and support related to policies and types of activities from the OCMH. Since Vietnam, only 1 military history detachment has been maintained in the regular Army, the rest are components of the National Guard and Reserve and consist of one officer and two enlisted men.[4]

List of units

  • 44th Military History Detachment
  • 46th Military History Detachment[5]
  • 52nd Military History Detachment[6]
  • 305th Military History Detachment[5]
  • 322nd Military History Detachment[1]

See also


Further reading

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