1st Cavalry Division Historical Overview

by the 1st Cavalry Division Association Historian, Wm. H. Boudreau
F Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment 1946-1947

Constitution, Activation and Organization
The Early Years
1921 - 1941

Daily Saber Exercises

On 22 January 1921, the 1st Cavalry Division was constituted in the U.S. Regular Army. Subsequently, on 20 August 1921 the 1st Cavalry Regiment, was preassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division nearly a month before the formal activation of the Division. On 13 September 1921, with the initiation of the National Defense Act, the 1st Cavalry Division was formally activated at Fort Bliss, Texas and Major General Robert Lee Howze, a Texas native from Rusk County and seasoned veteran of the Frontier Indian Wars, Spanish American War, Philippines Insurrection, Mexican Expedition, World War I and recipient of the Medal of Honor, was selected as its first Division Commander.

Upon formal activation, the 7th, 8th and 10th Cavalry Regiments were assigned to the new Division. With almost a century of service behind the oldest of its regiments and sixty five years of service for its youngest, the units that had already ridden and fought its way into the pages of history were organized into the newly formed divisional structure. The four regiments were now to fight side by side. Other units initially assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1921 included the 1st and 2nd Machine Gun Squadrons, Weapons Troops, 10th Light Tank Company, 13th Signal Troop, 15th Veterinary Company, 27th Ordnance Company, 43rd Ambulance Company, 82nd Field Artillery Battalion (Horse) and the 1st Cavalry Quartermaster Trains which later was redesignated as the 15th Replacement Company.

Later, the 5th Cavalry Regiment was assigned on 18 December 1922, relieving the 10th Cavalry Regiment. On 3 January 1933, the 1st Cavalry Regiment was relieved from the Division and transferred to Fort Knox, Kentucky where it was reorganized and redesignated as a mechanized unit. Concurrent with the relief of the 1st Cavalry Regiment, the 12th Cavalry Regiment was assigned the 1st Cavalry Division. It would not be until 1 November 1957, when elements of the 4th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Battle Group and the first element of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, the 1st Squadron, would be assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division in Korea.

The following operational periods summaries the new threats and constant challenges presented to the Division that provided the opportunity to hone their experience levels and modernize equipment to what it is today.

World War II
1941 - 1945

Flying Column Close On Manila

In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment. They closed on their port of embarkment, Camp Stoneman, California and departed during the period of 23 May to 21 June. Following six months of intensive training in northern Australia, adjusting to jungle environments, the Division got its first taste of combat in 1944 when they sailed for the Admiralty Islands and stormed ashore in an amphibious landing at Los Negros Island. After a fierce campaign on Los Negros and clearing the chain of surrounding islands, the Division could look with pride on its first combat test of World War II.

In the next action undertaken was Operation KING II on the Philippine Island of Leyte, On October 20, the invasion force must have appeared awesome to the waiting Japanese as it swept toward the eastern shores of Leyte near Tacloban. After the breakout of Tacloban, the the Division fought tirelessly against the Japanese fortification. With the last of the strong-holds eliminated, the Division moved on to Luzon, the main island of the Philippines. During the fighting on Luzon, the Division formed a "Flying Column" to slice through 100 miles of Japanese territory. In a period, measured in hours, the 1st Cavalry Division was in Manila and the prisoners at Santo Tomas were freed along with the recapture of the Malacanan Palace and the legislative buildings.

In 1945, following their long engagement with the enemy, the Division staged for the invasion (Operation OLYMPIC and CORONET) of Japan at Lucena, Luzon, PI. The war came to a sudden end when President Harry Truman authorized the use of the atomic bomb on Heroshima (6 August) and Nagasaki (9 August) and with the subsequent radio announcement, on 15 August, of the surrender of Japan made all the preparation superfluous. MacArthur's "First Team" was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo.

Occupation Of Japan
1945 - 1950

Troopship Cecil - Yokohama

At 1030 hours of 4 September 1945 the leading ships were in place in the inner harbor of Yokohama. The First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo. The advanced party 1st Cavalry Division transferred to their landing crafts and landed unopposed at the Yokohama docks. As soon as the advanced party established initial assembly areas, movement of troops got underway. Transport ships moved to dockside and began their operation of unloading equipment and deboarding the 1st Cavalry Division soldiers.

The Division's first mission in Tokyo was to assume control of the central portion of the city. Daily patrols began the long task of locating, investigating and reporting all Japanese installations which had contributed to the nation's war effort. All arsenals, factories, barracks and storage grounds had to be examined and reports made of their contents. In addition, the Division was concerned with the status of demobilization of the Japanese armed forces. Although the Imperial Army and Navy were being disbanded under supervision of Japanese officials, the 1st Cavalry Division maintained liaison with them and checked on the progress of their work.

Korean War
1950 - 1951

70th Tank Battalion Moves Out

On 15 July 1950, the 1st Cavalry Division, thrust into action to counter the invasion of the North Koreans into South Korea sailed out of Tokyo Bay. On 18 July they plunged ashore at Pohangdong, South Korea, to successfully carry out the first amphibious landing of the Korean conflict. Moving inland, in a blocking maneuver, they halted the North Korean war machine at the Pusan Perimeter. The Division broke out of the perimeter in mid-September and started moving north. Crossing the 38th Parallel quickly, they closed on Pyongyang, capturing the North Korean capital city.

The sudden intervention of Communist Chinese Forces dashed hopes of a quick end to the war. First Team troopers fought courageously in the north-south, see-saw campaigns that followed and successfully defended the city of Seoul. After 18 months of continuous fighting, the Division rotated back to Hokkaido, Japan in 1952 for rest and rehabilitation. Following the armistice, the Division relocated to Korea in 1957, with the mission of patrolling the Demilitarized Zone for 8 years.

Demilitarized Zone - Korea
1957 - 1965

Position cursor on selected function, "Click" and "Hold".
Pentomic Division TOE

The concept of Pentomic divisions was developed in 1956 to meet the needs of nuclear battlefields. The goal was to field highly mobile divisions with great fire power and supported by state-of-the-art communication systems and logistics. A division was composed of a maximum of 13,500 personnel assigned to five battle groups. Each battle group was a self-contained force trained to conduct independent operations when necessary. Specialized firepower support was provided by artillery and missile units armed with conventional ordnance and nuclear warheads.

One of the first implementations of the Pentomic Division concept was carried out on 15 October 1957, in ceremonies held in Tonggu, Korea, when the colors of the 24th Infantry Division were retired and the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division were passed to the Commanding General of the former 24th Infantry Division. "The First Team" had returned, standing to defend Korea against Communist aggression.

Concurrent with the reorganization and reflagging of the 1st Cavalry Division to the pentomic concept, the 545th MP Company, the 61st, 77th, 82nd, and 99th Field Artillery Battalions, the 26th and 29th AAA Battalions and the 70th Tank Battalion, which had served so nobly in Korea and Japan, were inactivated and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division.

1965 - 1972

Operation LeJeune, 04 April '67

The Division went home in 1965, to Fort Benning, Georgia, but only long enough to be reorganized for a new mission, becoming the Army's first air mobile division. The First Team was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. Their first real combat test came during the Pleiku campaign that lasted for 35 days of continuous air mobile operations. The troopers destroyed two of the three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division.

The first actions of 1968 began by terminating the longest Vietnam actions of the Division, Operation PERSHING. Later, for nearly a year the Division scoured the Bong Son plain, An Lo valley and the hills of coastal II Corps, seeking out enemy units and their sanctuaries. When the operation ended, the enemy had lost 5,401 soldiers and 2,400 enemy soldiers had been detained.   While thrusting against enemy positions along the Cambodian border northwest of Saigon, some elements of the the Division moved farther south into IV Corps, working with Naval forces in an operation called NAV-CAV; the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile) became the first American division to fight in all four tactical zones in Vietnam.

Moving to I Corps, Vietnam's northern most tactical zone, the Division set up Camp Evans for their new base camp. Early in the next year, the enemy launched the Tet Offensive, a major effort to overrun South Vietnam. Some 7,000 enemy, primarily well equipped, crack NVA regulars blasted their way into the imperial city of Hue and Quang Tri, the capital of Vietnam's northern most province.

Taking actions in the conflict, Quang Tri and Hue were sequentially liberated. Shattering the enemy's dreams of a Tet victory, the 1st Cavalry Division "Sky-troopers" moved to relieve the besieged Marine Base at Khe Sann. The First Team was "First into Cambodia," hitting what was previously a Communist sanctuary. Troopers deprived the enemy of much needed supplies and ammunition, scattering the enemy forces. The Vietnam service for the Division ended in 1972 when its last brigade began withdrawing. The 1st Cavalry Division had been the first division to go, and the last to leave.

TriCap To Armor
1971 - 1990

Return Of Forces To Germany

On 5 May 1971, advanced elements of the 1st Cavalry Division returned to the United States and based their operations in Fort Hood, Texas. where they were reorganized as the "First Triple Capability (TRICAP) Division." This TRICAP designation stemmed from its organization, consisting three fronts of attack; - an armored brigade, a mechanized infantry brigade, an airmobile brigade, along with support troops tailored to assist the combat elements of the Division.

The 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized,in 1975, to add a computerized system to increase the effectiveness of artillery (TACFIRE), becoming the newest armored division in the Army. In parallel, they tested the Division Restructure (DRS) concept to evaluate the most effective use of manpower and weapons systems for the battles to be fought in the future.

The first National Training Center (NTC) rotation for the Division took place in 1982 to initiate a long on-going series of tough, realistic desert battles. The Division now conducts three NTC rotations a year. All the training, modernization, planning, and operations culminated in REFORGER '83, when the First Team deployed nearly 9,000 soldiers to Holland, drew pre-positioned equipment, moved to a staging area and conducted exercise "Certain Strike" on the plains of Northern Germany. The success of the exercise proved that the Division was fully capable of performing its wartime mission.

In 1987 the First Team became the first division to field and train with Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE), the militarized version of a commercial cellular telephone system which became fully operational in 1988. In 1989 the Division added new weapons to its inventory with combined use of the AH-64 Apache, M2 Bradley, and MSE. In addition, the AH-64 Apaches had the capability to launch "Hellfire" anti-armor missiles. A variation in one of the missiles design provided the capability to be guided to it's target by the new OH-58D Observation Helicopter.

Gulf War, Desert Shield - Desert Storm
1990 - 1991

Destroy The Republican Guard

In August 1990, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for deployment to Southwest Asia as part of the joint and combined forces participating in Operation DESERT SHIELD. The focus at that time was the defense of Saudi Arabia against potential Iraqi attack. With minimum delay, chartered aircraft flew the First Team soldiers from Robert Gray Army Airfield, Fort Hood, Texas, to Dhahran International Airport via Paris, France and Cairo, Egypt. As soon as each unit drew their prepositioned equipment, they moved to an Assembly Area in the desert 160 miles west of the port. In this engagement First Team infantrymen were issued the newest version of the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the up-armored M2A2 tank.

Before hostilities took place, the First Team gained valuable experience in combined operations through coordination with French, Egyptian and Syrian forces. In 1991, the Division, attached to VII (US) Corps, and the focus of the First Team began to shift toward offensive action. The Division moved nearly 500 kilometers to another assembly area near King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in northern Saudi Arabia, a key strategic location covering the historic Wadi al Batin approach into Saudi Arabia.  In Operation DESERT STORM, their "First" major mounted ground engagement, the Division attacked 10 miles into Iraq, confirming and destroying enemy positions. Regrouping, the Division charged west pausing only to refuel before passing through breeches in the enemy obstacle belt and within 24 hours they had gone 300 kilometers, slicing deep into the enemy's rear. The cease fire, which came after 100 hours of action, halted the continuing attack as the Division were "closing on" and preparing to destroy an entire Division of the Republican Guard.

Force Restructuring
1991 - 1993

Upon its return to the United States in 1991, the 1st Cavalry Division became the largest division in the Army, with the reactivation of its 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The following year saw the activation of the Engineer Brigade. In August of 1993, the reflagging actions were completed and following its reorganization, the Division became the Army's largest division and only armored contingency force.

Desert Peacekeepers
1992 - 2000

Desert Landscape At Night

The U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT) - Kuwait, a major subordinate command of the U.S. ARCENT of Forrt McPherson, Georgia and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) of Tampa, Florida, is the operational unit of the US Army in Kuwait. The mission of the U.S. CENTCOM is to a) support US and free-world interests by assuring access to Mideast oil resources, b) help friendly regional states maintain their own security and collective defense, c) maintain an effective and visible US military presence in the region, d) deter threats by hostile regional states and e) project a military force into the region if necessary.

Following the Gulf War, members of US Central Command's Army component and the armed forces of Kuwait agreed to participate in a series of Combined Exercises held within the framework of the Mutual Defense Cooperation Agreement between Kuwait and the United States. In these exercises, Army battalions rotate into Camp Doha for training with the Kuwaiti while brigade command elements rotate into various locations in the country to gain familiarity with the terrain to develop and practice a mutual set of defensive postures. These exercises represented an opportunity for US Army forces to work with Kuwaiti armed forces in country while at the same time demonstrating US capability and commitment to the region.

Since Desert Storm, the 1st Cavalry Division has responded several times to contingency requirements to participate in joint desert training, and deploy in maneuvering exercises which support the mission objectives of the US Central Command. Each operation has underscored the need for vigilance and quick response and reinforced the value of pre-positioned equipment and limited forward presence in offsetting the strategic time/distance challenges inherent in winning the "race for Kuwait."

Bosnia Peacekeepers
1998 - 1990

1st Cavalry Presence Patrol

On 17 April 1998, a Pentagon spokesman announced that the 1st Cavalry Division troops from Fort Hood, Texas, would deploy in late summer to replace the US peace keeping force in Bosnia, the 1st Armored Division. It was an historic move. It was the first time a Continental United States (CONUS) based contingency unit would assume the Bosnian peacekeeping mission.

        On 7 October 1998, the First Cavalry Division, in the mission of "Task Force Eagle," conducting peace support operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, assumed authority of the Multinational Division (North) area of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from the 1st Armored Division.

The mission of the 1st Cavalry Division was to conduct operations to enforce the military provisions set forth by the Dayton Accords. Their day-to-day presence and commitment to the citizens of this ravaged nation helped prove that a lasting and self-sustaining peace is possible. In order to conduct successful peace missions while in theater, soldiers were extensively trained on mine awareness, country and cultural customs and checkpoint and convoy operations.

During the six months, squads and platoons conducted over 9,000 combat patrols and escorted over 1000 convoy movements over some of the most rugged terrain and austere conditions. The soldiers conducted hundreds of weapons storage site inspections, established vehicle checkpoints designed to monitor and control movement and often conducted searches for and seizures of illegal contraband and weapons.

The Next Generation - Force XXI
2000 - 2020

Moving UAV To Launch Area

"Force XXI" was the comprehensive process of the Army for modernizing and preparing for the challenges of the 21st Century. Force XXI projects soldiers into the 21st century and provides them with the necessary doctrine and organizations, the most realistic training, and the best equipment and weapon systems that our nation can provide. In Fiscal Year 2001, the 1st Cavalry Division began its transition to the Force XXI design.

Providing the Division with Force XXI equipment that is fully digitized creates a "collaborative virtual environment" that, among other advantages, gives commanders, separated by great distances, the ability to communicate through various digital systems providing situational awareness across the battlefield.

In its end configuration, Force XXI equipment will best ideally suited for joint operations and is designed to be fully compatible with the operational systems of the other services. Seamless information connectivity with the other elements of the joint force are its primary characteristic and is essential for the success of joint operations. The mission of the Army is to equip the Division with a capability based upon the achievement of a full-spectrum dominance against any potential enemy across the entire field of military operations by 2015 - 2020.

Global War On Terror
2001 - 2010

The changeover in FORCE-XXI structure was well underway when on 11 September 2001, terrorists, master minded by Osama bin Laden, attacked the United States in four separate instances.

  • The first, hijacked American Airlines Flight 11 hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, New York, New York at 0845 hours.

  • The second, hijacked United Airlines Flight 175, hit the South Tower of the World Trade Center, New York, New York at 0903 hours.

  • The third, hijacked American Airlines Flight 77, hit the West side of the Pentagon, Washington, DC at 0943 hours.

  • The fourth, United Airlines Flight 93 that lost control when the passengers attempted to overwhelm their hijackers, crashed into a field 8 miles east of Jennerstown, Pennsylvania at at 1006 hours.

New York Twin Towers
Jennerstown Crash Site
The Pentagon Building

On 18 September, as a result of these incidents, President George W. Bush declared war on those countries who harbored terrorists and defined the military retaliations as Operation INFINITE JUSTICE. The origins of the name can be traced back to the 1998 Operation INFINITE REACH airstrikes against Osama bin Laden's facilities in Afghanistan and Sudan in response to the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Just one month after the terrorist attacks of 11 September, President Bush initiated Operation Enduring Freedom. The following month, U.S. Forces entered Afghanistan to begin offensives directed at those organizations and governments who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks. The 545th Military Police Company deployed and were responsible for interrogating and processing nearly 2500 detainees.


In early September, Fire Support Elements of 4th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) along with staff officers of the 32nd Army Air Missile Defense Command (AAMDC) deployed to the National Capitol Region to support the multi-layered air defense military exercise, This exercise integrated fighter and support aircraft, radar and ground-based air defense systems and communication links, including those of the Sentinel radar, Avenger Antiaircraft Missile Weapon System, and Stinger Man Portable missile systems of the 4th Battalion, 5th ADA.

On 9 September, the operation was upgraded as Operation CLEAR SKIES II and was scheduled to end on 14 September. However, on 10 September, in response to elevated security threats, the Secretary of Defense, Rumsfeld approved the transition of the exercise into a live operation NOBLE EAGLE - loading the launchers with live missiles to provide an extra layer of defense for the anniversary of the 11 September attack on the United States, which included a large outdoor ceremony at the Pentagon attended by President George W. Bush.


Despite heavy commercial and military air traffic in the immediate region, the soldiers of 4th Battalion, 5th ADA continued to be at a high state of alert and motivation. Relying on previous training for confidence in the success of this mission, they remain composed and continue to calmly man their strategically located positions around the capital, ready to respond should the situation warrant.

In early 2003, select divisional units were designated to deploy in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. These specialized units included the 1-227 Aviation Battalion who provided aviation assets to the operations. maintenance support for the battalion was provided by the 615th Aviation support battalion and airfield security was provided by the 1-21 Field Artillery. The 68th Chemical Company was attached to 3rd Infantry Division serving as a Hazardous material response team.

In response to the increase of the threat level change to "Orange", Fire Support Elements of the 4th Battalion, 5th ADA redeployed to the national capital and by 12 February all of their equipment was in position and integrated into the defense system communications network. Since that movement, they have remained there on station, carrying out their assigned precautionary and prudent defense mission.

2003 - 2005

Advance, Destroy Everything !!

In the fall of 2003, the Division as a whole was ordered to prepare for deployment to support Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II. In January 2004, Division elements began deploying to the theater of operations and in April the Division assumed command and control of Task Force - Baghdad.

Deployed under the designation of Task Force BAGHDAD, the Division established and operated from 40 Forward Operating Bases (FOB) throughout the Iraqi capital city. Carrying out their mission, they came in direct contact with the terrorists, battling enemy forces more than 935 times, which included subversive attacks by small-arms fire, mortar, Rocket-Propelled Grenades and Improvised Explosive Devices.

During the deployment 2,508 combat badges and 175 medals for valor, including two Silver Stars along with 1,900 Purple Hearts, were award to 1st Cavalry soldiers. The ceremony also served as a grim reminder of the cost of defending the freedoms of the country in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM-II as the cannons were fired to honor the loss of its 169 members who gave their lives in their service.

The Division engaged in multiple lines of operations simultaneously to defeat the enemy and win the support of the Iraqi people. Two major events in the march toward true democracy occurred during the year in the Iraqi capital: (1), the coalition returned sovereignty to the people of Iraq in June 2004; (2), the national elections of January 2005 demonstrated the resolve of the Iraqi people to gain control of their own country.

Modular Forces

Back And Ready For Change

On 25 May 2005, the 1st Cavalry Division marked the official return from Iraq by uncasing its colors in a ceremony held on Cooper Field Parade Grounds. More than 2,500 soldiers, representing all of the units of the Division, were in attendance. During the ceremony the many accomplishments and sacrifices of the Division while in Iraq were highlighted.

Following six months of extensive planning, officers of the 1st Cavalry Division began executing the monumental task of reorganizing and realigning its manpower and equipment resources into the Army Matrix of Modular Forces. A whirlwind sequence of 31 Unit Changes of Commands, including ten new Unit Activations, nineteen Unit Inactivations along with transfers of two Units, were executed in the traditional Cavalry ceremony. As each newly activated Brigade changed command, they changed their colors and become a Brigade Unit of Action (BUA). Under the reorganization, the Division is composed of six Brigades.

While undertaking the transformation changes, the Division experienced nearly a fifty percent turnover in personnel while performing the coordination of arrival and reallocation of critical new equipment required to support their new missions. Simultaneously, with the equipment changeovers, new training and maintenance programs were initiated to prepare for possible combat redeployment in the summer of 2006 or as may be directed by the Army Command. On 16 October 2005, a major milestone of the "Stand Up" of the 4th Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss, Texas completed the transformation of the 1st Cavalry Division into a Matrix of Modular Forces.

2006 - 2008

1st Cavalry Division TOA

On 20 June 2006, the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters received orders to return to Iraq later in the year. The units designated to return along with the 1st Cavalry Headquarters and their Special Troops Battalion (STB) were the 2nd (BlackJack) Brigade Combat Team, who was closing out a specialized training session at the National Training Center - Fort Irwin, Calfifornia, and the 3rd (GreyWolf) Combat Team, who were completing battlefield training at the Joint Readiness Training Center - Fort Polk, Lousisiana. Approximately 12,000 soldiers of the Division staffing level of 18,500 were covered by these orders. Although no timing or schedule was established for the deployment, the Division was expected to relieve the 4th Infantry Division currently deployed in Baghdad. Units still without orders, the 1st (Ironhorse) Brigade Combat Team at Fort Hood, Texas and the 4th (Longknife) Brigade Combat Team at Fort Bliss, Texas, continued to train as if they could be called up at any time.

2008 - 2010

Buffalo, IED Clearing Vehicle

On 19 May 2008, the Department of Defense announced the deployment of over 6,000 Army and National Guard Troops in Texas for duty in the Middle East. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division was named among 25,000 designated to replace units in Iraq that are scheduled to return by the end of the year.

On 4 June, the 4th (LongKnife) Brigade Combat Team began an initial step in their anticipated 15th month deployment by casing their colors in a ceremony at Cooper Field Parade Grounds. Although an advanced party left Central Texas for Iraq four days ago, the entire Brigade is not scheduled to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom - VI until mid June.

On 30 June, the Department of Defense announced that the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st Cavalry Division is to deploy to Iraq in early 2009 to conduct a full spectrum of operations. The announcement reflected the continued commitment of the United States to the security of the Iraqi people, and provides replacement forces required to maintain the current level of effort in Iraq. The release also explained that "any subsequent deployment orders will be issued based on force level decisions made in the future."

On 30 September, In a second Department of Defense announcement, the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters received orders to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in early 2009. More than 1,100 Soldiers serve in the Division Headquarters and they provide command and control, intelligence, communication and logistical support among other capabilities while conducting stability and security operations in cooperation with Iraqi Security Forces and local governments. The deployment orders marked the third time that the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Air Cavalry Brigade, undertaking their third deployment since 2004, prepared to join the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st Cavalry Division who were already "in theater". On 20 April 2009, the first flights of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Soldiers, the last brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division to deploy, left Robert Gray Airfield for Iraq amid a cheering crowd of family members and friends. More than 250 Soldiers were in the "Torch" or advance party of the brigade. The advanced party included the lead elements of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion who will be in charge of the port operations of helicopter assembly, test and inspection in Kuwait.

2009 - 2010

4th BCT "Torch Party"

On 4 May 2009, the "Torch Party" of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division composed of 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Troopers, returned from Iraq to hundreds of cheering family members, fellow Soldiers and other guests at a welcoming home ceremony in front of the Division headquarters. The torch party was sent back earlier than the rest of the unit to help set up operations for their unit when it starts to return in its entirety. Flights for the 4th BCT Soldiers were scheduled to go on for the next several weeks, bringing the rest of the Brigade back to Fort Hood, Texas.

On 10 November, an advanced party (Greywolf Advon 1) of 300 personnel from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division was the first group of Soldiers from the Division to return after deployment for a year in Mosul, Iraq. Their friends and families were patiently waiting and then, almost on cue, the white buses arrived from the airport, full of Grey Wolf Troopers. The Soldiers filed quickly filed out and fell into formation. The music stops. The crowd grows quiet. An officer says a quick prayer and then calls out the command the families have long awaited - Charge! The families rush the field to find their loved one in a sea of camouflage.

On 26 December, the last flight of 2nd Brigade Combat Team Members, 1st Cavalry Division members, arriving from Iraq, missed Christmas by a couple of hours, however not one Soldier or family member seemed to care as they walked across Cooper Field, most donning Santa Claus hats.

0n 13 January 2010, the 1st Cavalry Division closed out its responsibilities of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM - VI (Rotation 08-10), formally "Multi-National Division Forces - West and Baghdad" by executing a Transfer Of Authority to the commander of the incoming division (now designated as "USD - Center") of control, the 1st Armored Division. The next day, 14 January, the flight of the trail party of the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters Soldiers arrived at Ft. Hood, TX and as they gathered at the homecoming ceremony at Coopers Field to greet their family and friends, the Colors of the 1st Cavalry Division were uncased, signifying the return of the Division from the combat operations of Operation IRAQ - VI (Rotation 08-10).

On 17 March, the advanced party of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, the last organizational unit of the 1st Cavalry Division scheduled to leave Operation IRAQI FREEDOM - VI (Rotation 08-10), began its return to Fort Hood as 150 soldiers were welcomed back from Iraq at Cooper Field. Soldiers from across the Brigade made up the advance party that will prepare for the arrival of the rest of the Brigade in April.

Operation NEW DAWN
2010 - 2012

Operation NEW DAWN - Iraq

1 September 2010 marked the official end to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and combat operations by United States forces in Iraq. In The transition to Operation NEW DAWN, the remaining 50,000 US service members serving in Iraq will conduct stability operations, focusing on advising, assisting and training Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Operation NEW DAWN, a compromise of the Republican and Democrat Parties to vacate the Iraqi operation by mid 2010, also represents a shift from a predominantly military US presence to one that is predominantly civilian, as the Departments of Defense and State work together with governmental and non-governmental agencies to help build civil capacity of Iraq.

The transition to Operation NEW DAWN is the US commitment to the government and people of Iraq as a sovereign, stable country that will be an enduring strategic partner with the United States. This has been made possible by the improved capability of the ISF to take the lead in securing their country. New Dawn also signifies the success of the responsible drawdown of forces and the redeployment of thousands of US Soldiers, as well as the return or transfer of war fighting equipment to the US or to combat troops in Afghanistan. 

To support the transition to stability operations, the Army has six Advisory and Assistance Brigades (AABs) in Iraq. AABs are designed to partner with ISF and are tailored for the needs of the specific location in which they will operate. They provide security for Provincial Reconstruction Teams and have up to 24 specialty teams which enable them to conduct advisory, security, and training missions, as well as the development of civil capacity. ABs are structured around the modular design of brigade combat teams but are trained for stability operations, rather than for combat. However, under the security agreement they retain the inherent right to self-defense and are authorized to take necessary action to prevent terrorist activities in order to protect themselves or the people of Iraq.  The 4th Brigade Combat Team (LongKnife) was the first BCT of the Division to deploy and assume the roll of an AAB in September 2010 and was followed by the other three BCTs, GreyWolf, BlackJack, and IronHorse in 2011.       

US Forces Case Colors

On 15 December 2011, after almost nine years, the Iraq war officially ended. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta flew into Baghdad to be the guest of honor at a ceremony formally wrapping up the 8 1/2 year invasion and occupation period of Iraq. The ceremony ended the war two weeks earlier than was necessary under the terms of the security agreement signed by the US and Iraqi governments in 2008, which stipulated that the troops must be gone by 31 December 2011.

In the morning of 18 December 2011, the 3rd Special Troops Battalion of the 3rd BCT (Grey Wolf) was the last unit to leave Iraq.  As the MRAP crossed the border into Kuwait, Soldiers of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command closed the gates marking the end of the operation.  This movement completed the movement of the 1st BCT, 2nd BCT and 3rd BCT of the First Team from Iraq to Kuwait.  A flawless movement involving multiple passages of lines conducted without incident. 

       The 1st BCT (Iron Horse) remained in Kuwait as Theater Reserve and conducted training to prepare for possible missions.  Completing their year-long deployment they returned to Fort Hood and their colors were uncased on Cooper Field just after midnight on 6 July marking the return of all assigned Troopers of the Division to Fort Hood.

2011 - 2014

1st Cavalry TOA in Afghanistan

On 19 May 2011, in continuing to expand its role in the mid-eastern theater of operations, the 1st Cavalry Division unfurled the unit's new colors in a transfer of authority ceremony with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. During a pivotal time in the war on terror and in Afghanistan’s history, The command authority of the Regional Command - East (RC-E) shifted from Combined Joint Task Force-101 to CJTF-1.

In this new mission of the 1st Cavalry Division took control of over 35,000 Soldiers from eight US, French and Polish task forces and 14 provinces that, combined, provide safety and security in an area populated by approximately 7.5 million Afghans. The Area of Command consists of 43,000 square miles and shares 450 miles of border with Pakistan.

The 1st Cavalry Division returned from its deployment to Afghanistan in April 2012 and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade returned in June completing the split deployment of the Division Headquarters and its brigades.  The 1st ACB completed its year of flying in the challenging terrain of Afghanistan in combat with no fatalities, a remarkable accomplishment that demonstrated their level of training and leadership.

  The leadership of the 4th Brigade Combat Team and its subordinate units: 1-9th Cavalry, 2-7th Cavalry, 2-12th Cavalry, 5-82nd Field Artillery, 27th Brigade Support Battalion and the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion cased their colors in preparation to deploy to Afghanistan. This marks the fourth deployment in the seven years since the BCT was reactivated at Fort Bliss in 2005.  Approximately 1400 Troopers, primarily the leadership of the units will deploy and form security force assistance brigades to train the Afghan units to take over the security of their own nation.  The planned deployment of nine months began almost immediately as the advance party of the BCT deployed within one day of the ceremony.  The Brigade's return to Fort Hood began at the end of June 2013. 

On 27 June 2013 the Colors of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team and its subordinate units: 4-9th Cavalry, 1-5th Cavalry, 1-8th Cavalry, 3-82nd Field Artillery, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, and the 2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion were cased for the Black Jack Brigade's upcoming nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.  The 2nd BCT assisted with the withdrawal of forces and equipment from Afghanistan and was involved with closing bases.  The 1-227th Aviation Battalion also deployed to Afghanistan in late 2013 and completed its mission with a phased return of its personnel and equipment that was completed in October 2014.

The 1st Cavalry Division again cased its colors on 18 June 2014 for a deployment to Afghanistan to command Regional Command - South.  Taking control on 7 July from the 4th Infantry Division and will transition the headquarters to a "Train, Advise, and Assist Command" later in the year ushering in a new era in Afghanistan.  RC-South includes the provinces of Kandahar, Uruzgan, Zabul and Daykundi and contains units and soldiers from Australia, Belgium, Georgia, Jordan, Romania, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and the United States.

Returning to Fort Hood on 17 October the Division uncased its colors marking the return of the Division Commander, Sergeant Major and part of its staff, but a portion of the Division Staff will remain in Afghanistan to lead the Train, Advise, and Assist Command under the leadership of one of the Division's Assistant Division Commanders marking new ground for the First Team as it splits its headquarters assets between Fort Hood and Afghanistan as part of Operation RESOLUTE SUPPORT.

To be continued...

Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.