What is the 3d United States Infantry Regiment – The Old Guard?

The 3d U.S. Infantry, traditionally known as "The Old Guard," is the oldest active-duty infantry unit in the Army, serving our nation since 1784. The Old Guard is the Army's official ceremonial unit and escort to the President. It also provides security for Washington, D.C., in time of national emergency or civil disturbance.

The 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) is more than a ceremonial unit.

The honorific “The Old Guard” was bestowed upon the 3d Infantry Regiment by General Winfield Scott after the Regiment’s astounding battlefield performance during campaigns in the Mexican American War commanded by Scott.  While few today realize it, that was one of the highest compliments someone could bestow on a military organization at that time.

Napoleon’s armies were the standard of excellence against which others were compared.  Of Napoleon’s forces, he kept in reserve a set of forces comprising his personal guard.  There were three of them:  the Young Guard, the Middle Guard, and the Old Guard.  Of the three, the Old Guard contained the best soldiers and leaders of any army in the world.  When Napoleon committed his Old Guard to battle, they secured victory so frequently that they were seen as almost invincible.  Scott was favorably comparing the 3d Infantry Regiment’s battlefield performance to the best and most respected military unit in the world at that time.

Our Army's leaders continue to depend on The Old Guard.

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When the US Army was deciding in the middle of the last century which unit to station at Fort Myer to comprise our nation’s capital’s last layer of defense, to maintain our traditions, and honor our fallen, the Army’s leaders selected the infantry unit with roots in the Revolutionary War and that maintained a standard of excellence almost unrivaled in the world.  With 55 battle streamers that were earned in combat dating back to 1794 at the Battle of Fallen Timbers and including among others World War II, Vietnam, and (through the exploits of its 2nd Battalion, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McCord) the War on Terror, the Regiment is proven in combat.  The 3d US Infantry (The Old Guard) remains the United States’ most essential unit, the one that—if we were to redesign our entire military force from the ground up—would be the first force put in place and the one from which we would grow the rest of our military force.

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