United States Army Central, commonly referred to by the shorthand term USARCENT or just ARCENT, was originally formed as Third Army during the closing days of World War I; it was not activated until 7 November 1918 and its commander, Major Joseph Dickman, did not issue its first General Order until 15 November. Following occupation service in post-WWI Germany, Third Army was disbanded on 2 July 1919.

Though reactivated in 1932, Third Army did not begin to look anything like a true fighting force until the days leading up to the U.S. entry in World War II led to the rapid expansion in its men and materiel. Shipped to Britain in December 1943, Third Army—by this time commanded by Lieutenant General George Patton—played the role of a decoy for a while, allowing German intelligence to think it would spearhead the Allied invasion when in fact it was in training and would not arrive on French soil until several weeks after D-Day. Once in France, the Third Army slashed westward, its advance halted only by fuel shortages caused by the massive expenditure entailed by Operation Market Garden. Its pivot to the north to relieve American forces at Bastogne and to halt the German’s desperate offensive in the days leading up to Christmas 1945 is one of the most lauded accomplishments in the history of armored warfare and maneuver, and personified the unit's motto of "Tertia Semper Prima," Latin for "Third Always First."

Over 45 years would elapse following World War II before Third Army saw combat again. During Operation Desert Storm in 1991, Third Army carried out the famed “end run” assault that was responsible for the rapid defeat of the Iraqi forces. It continued to take part in various operations in Southwest Asia throughout the 1990s and also took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom, but on a much smaller scale than in the First Gulf War.

On 11 February 2008, U.S. Central Command announced that Third Army was being redesignated as United States Army Central. Currently, it comprises 1st Theater Sustainment Command, Area Support Group Kuwait, and the 335th Signal Command (Theater).

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