1st Cavalry Division units have served the nation from
1855 to the present; building a history rich in pride with solid
ties to the traditions and heritage of the United States
The famed 1st Cavalry Division was baptized by fire and
blood on the western plains in an era of horse-mounted cavalry.
Dubbed the "First Team" by Major General William C. Chase, the
division has always strived not only to be the first, but to be
The division's roots date back to 1855 when the 2nd
Cavalry Regiment was organized. Redesignated as the 5th Cavalry
in 1861, this unit participated in a number of famous Civil War
engagements, including Bullrun, Antietam, Gettysburg,
Wilderness, and Appomattox
The sound of the bugle and the cry of "Charge!" sent the
thundering hooves of the U.S. Cavalry troopers to protect the
western-bound settlers in an era when Indians roamed the western
frontier and pioneering settlers clung to their land with
determination and luck.
The 5th, 7th, 8th, and 9th Cavalry regiments that would
one day form the Division, clashed with the Sioux, Comanche,
Arapaho, Apache, and Ute Indian Nations during the Indian Wars,
led by colorful characters like Col. George Armstrong Custer.
As the Indian campaigns concluded, the Cavalry patrolled
the far western frontiers from the frozen tundras of Alaska to
the scorching deserts of the southwest. Just prior to World War
I, the Cavalry engaged Pancho Villa's forces during the punitive
expedition into Mexico.
With the initiation of the National Defense Act, the 1st
Cavalry Division was formally activated on September 13, 1921 at
Fort Bliss, Texas. That day, the 7th and 8th Cavalry Regiments
were assigned to the division. The 5th Cavalry Regiment was
assigned on December 18, 1922.
In addition to three of the four regiments of the cavalry,
the original organization included the 82nd Field Artillery
Battalion (Horse), the 13th Signal Troops, the 27th Ordnance
Company, Division Headquarters, and the 1st Cavalry Division
Quartermaster Train which later became the 15th Replacement
Company. Major General Robert L. Howze was assigned as the first
The division's early history is largely a saga of rough
riding, patrolling the Mexican border, and constant training.
Operating from horseback, the cavalry was the only force capable
of piercing the desert's harsh terrain and halting the band of
smugglers that operated along the desolate Mexican border.
As the depression of the 30's forced thousands of workers
into the streets, the division was asked to provide training for
62,500 people in the Civilian Conservation Youth Corps. These
workers constructed barracks for 20,000 anti-aircraft troops at
Fort Bliss, Texas in preparation for the Air Age.
Although the division was created as a result of a proven
need for large horse-mounted formations, by 1940, the march of
progress had left the horse far behind.
The era of the tank, automobile, aircraft, and parachute
had dawned and eclipsed the age of the armored horseman. The
Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor erased all doubt. An
impatient 1st Cavalry Division was dismounted in 1943 and
processed for overseas movement to the Southwest Pacific as foot
months of training in Australia, the division got its first
taste of combat. On February 29, 1944 the men of the division
sailed for the Admiralty Islands and stormed ashore in an
amphibious landing at Los Negros Island. After a fierce campaign
in which the enemy lost some 7,000 combat soldiers, the division
could look with pride on its first combat test of World War II.
action for the Cav troops was on the Philippine Island of Leyte.
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.
One of the
First Team's most noted feats was accomplished during the
fighting for Luzon. On January 31, 1945, General Douglas
MacArthur issued the order, "Go to Manila, free the prisoners at
Santo Tomas, take Malacanan Palace and the legislative
day, the "flying column," as the element came to be known,
jumped off to slice through 100 miles of Japanese territory.
Hours later, the 1st Cav was in Manila and the prisoners were
freed. The First Team was "First in Manila."
As the war
came to a sudden end, MacArthur's First Team was given the honor
of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo, achieving
its second notable first -- "First in Tokyo."
On July 18,
1950, the 1st Cavalry Division plunged ashore at Pohangdong,
South Korea to successfully carry out the first amphibious
landing of the Korean conflict. The landing at Pohangdong helped
halt the North Korean war machine at the Pusan perimeter. The
division broke out of the perimeter in mid-September and started
north. Crossing the 38th Parallel on October 9, 1950, the
troopers of the 1st Cavalry Division crashed into Pyongyang,
capturing the capital city of North Korea on October 19. This
marked the third first for the division -- "First in Pyongyang."
intervention of Communist Chinese forces dashed hopes of a quick
end to the war. First Team troopers fought courageously in the
see-saw campaigns that followed, and successfully defended the
city of Seoul.
1952, the division, after 18 months of continuous fighting,
rotated back to Hokkaido, Japan, returning to Korea in 1957
where they patrolled the Demilitarized Zone until 1965.
division went home in 1965, but only long enough to be
reorganized and prepared for a new mission. Within 90 days of
becoming the Army's first air mobile division, the First Team
was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the
real combat test came during the Pleiku campaign ; 35 days of
continuous air mobile operations beginning October 29, 1965. The
troopers destroyed two of the three regiments of a North
Vietnamese Division, earning the first Presidential Unit
Citation given to a division in Vietnam.
division began 1968 by terminating Operation Pershing, the
longest of the 1st Cav's Vietnam actions. 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 on January 21, the enemy
had lost 5,401 soldiers and 2,400 enemy soldiers had been
detained. Some 1,300 individual and 137 crew served weapons had
been captured or destroyed.
Moving to I
Corps, Vietnam's northern most tactical zone, the division set
up Camp Evans for their new base camp. In late January, 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.
went on the move and by February 1, Quang Tri was liberated
followed by Hue. After 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.
1970, 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 division's Vietnam service ended in 1972 when its
last brigade began withdrawing. The 1st Cav had been the first
division to go, and the last to leave.
had become the trademark of the First Team.
Creighton Abrams, while commander of all U.S. Forces in
Southeast Asia, said of the 1st Cav, "The big yellow patch does
something to an individual that makes him a better soldier, a
better team member, and a better American than he otherwise
would have been."
returned to the United States on May 5, 1971 where it was
reorganized as the "First Triple Capability (TRICAP) Division."
This TRICAP designation stemmed from its organization,
consisting of an armored brigade, a mechanized infantry brigade,
an airmobile brigade, and support troops tailored to assist the
combat elements of the division.
1975, the 1st Cav was once again reorganized, becoming the
Army's newest armored division. During the Division's most
recent past, the unit successfully completed field testing of
TACFIRE, a computerized system to increase the effectiveness of
division also received the mission in September 1978, for
testing the Division Restructure (DRS) concept, used to
determine the most effective use of manpower and weapons systems
for the battlefields of the future.
fielding the M-1 Abrams main battle tank in 1980 Force
Modernization has continued as a major division focus. The First
Team became the "First" division to field the AH-64 Apache
attack helicopter, M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle, the High
Mobility Multi-Purpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV), and the Multiple
Launch Rocket System.
division's first National Training Center rotation in September
1982, kicked off a long on-going series of tough, realistic
desert battles. The first units were the 1st Brigade's 2nd
Battalion, 7th Cavalry, and 3rd Battalion, 10th Cavalry. The
Division now conducts three NTC rotations year.
exercise REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) '83, the First
Team became the "First unit to train as a division-size element
in Northern Europe."
training, modernization, planning, and operations culminated in
REFORGER '83, when the First Team deployed nearly 9,000 soldiers
to Holland, drew propositioned 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.
This was the "First U.S. deployment to Holland and Northern
Germany since W.W.II."
1987 the First Team became the "First" division to field and
train with Mobile Subscriber Equipment (MSE), the military
version of a cellular telephone system. The system became fully
operational October 25, 1988.
of '89, the Cav's 2nd Brigade amassed a series of "Firsts"
during its NTC rotation.
the first combined use of the AH-64 Apache, M2 Bradley, and MSE.
In addition, the First Teams' Apaches launched the first
Hellfire anti-armor missiles ever fired at the National Training
Center. One of the missiles was guided to it's target by the new
OH-58D Observation Helicopter.
1990, the 1st Cav was alerted for deployment to Southwest Asia
as part of the joint forces participating in Operation Desert
Shield. The focus at that time was the defense of Saudi Arabia
against potential Iraqi attack.
August, the division trained on a massive scale, firing all
weapons, preparing equipment and people for overseas movement,
and planning surface, sea, and air movement. Actual deployment
to Saudi Arabia began in September, extending into mid-October.
Equipment was moved by convoy and rail to ports in Texas and
then by ships to the port of Dammam, Saudi Arabia.
soldiers flew from Robert Gray Army Airfield to Dhahran
International Airport in Saudi Arabia. There, they settled into
warehouses and tents to await the arrival of their equipment. As
soon as their equipment had arrived they moved to an assembly
area in the desert 160 miles west of the port.
October, November and December 1990, the division drew new
equipment, trained, and planned defensive operations. By the end
of December, the 1st Cavalry Division was one of the most modern
and powerfully equipped divisions in the Army. The division's
tankers drew, trained on and fired the M1A1 Abrams "Main Battle
Tank" armed with a 120 millimeter smooth bore gun and one of the
most sophisticated automotive and fire control systems in the
infantrymen received the newest version of the Bradley Fighting
Vehicle, the up-armored M2A2 which like the new Abrams proved
its worth in combat. Both vehicles were reliable, survivable and
deadly during Desert Storm operations.
glimpse of that performance came in December 1990 on the
division's Pegasus Range, a full gunnery training facility built
up from the sands of the Saudi desert. Every tank and Bradley
crew fired their new weapons on Pegasus range as part of new
equipment transition training.
this period, the division's leaders were planning and rehearsing
the First Team's role as the theater counterattack force - the
force that would defeat any Iraqi attack into Saudi Arabia.
hostilities, the First Team gained valuable experience in
combined operations through coordination with French, Egyptian
and Syrian forces. With the First Team's 2nd Brigade and the
101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) under its tactical
control, the 1st Cavalry Division conducted a complex light
force/heavy force defense of critical theater logistics bases.
1991, the division was attached to VII (US) Corps and the focus
of the First Team clearly began to shift toward offensive
action. The division moved early 500 kilometers to another
assembly area near King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in northern
the division in a key strategic location covering the historic
Wadi al Batin approach into Saudi Arabia and threatening Iraq
along the same avenue into western Kuwait.
spent near KKMC was short, and the division once again packed up
its 17,000 soldiers now accustomed to "jumping." The division
moved north toward the juncture of the Saudi, Iraq and Kuwait
borders through a series of defensive positions designed to
thwart any preemptive attack along the Wadi. First Team
deterrence was successful - no attack came. Meanwhile, the air
war began and other Allied ground forces began to reposition for
ground forces prepared for war, the First Team began a
calculated war of deception along the Saudi border.
was to lure Saddam Hussein into believing the Allied attack
would come from this direction, and trick him into emplacing
additional forces there. While the division's 8th Engineer
Battalion improved positions and conducted "Berm Buster"
missions to destroy Iraqi obstacles, the division's 1-7 Cav,
screened well forward, clashing with Iraqi forces. The First
Team began its secret fight to deceive Iraq long before the
world would come to know that "ground-war fighting" had already
Team's Multiple Launched Rocket Systems repeatedly lit the night
sky, battering deep enemy targets, while its sister cannon
batteries fired Copperhead rounds, rocket-assisted projectiles,
and thousands of high explosive and improved conventional
munitions into Iraq. The Aviation Brigade flew obstacle
reduction and aerial reconnaissance missions and designated
targets for destruction by the division's artillery.
responded. Iraqi divisions focused forces toward the coalition
threat in the Wadi, and the First Team froze them. Hussein's
flanks were left thinned, allowing the other Allied Forces to
attack virtually unopposed. The deception had worked.
20th, in Desert Storm's "First" major mounted ground engagement,
the division's 2nd (Blackjack) Brigade attacked 10 miles into
Iraq, confirming and destroying enemy positions. Success exacted
its price. During this engagement, the Blackjack Brigade
suffered the agony of the "First" three Army soldiers to be
killed in action.
opening of the ground war, the Blackjack Brigade supported by
the Aviation Brigade Apaches, moved into Iraq on a
reconnaissance-in-force. The brigade broke contact after
penetrating enemy obstacles, taking fire and causing the enemy
to light fire trenches. They withdrew south to join the division
for its final attack.
26, the Commander of the Allied Forces, General Norman
Schwarzkopf directed, "send in the First Team. Destroy the
Republican Guard. Let's go home."
division charged west pausing only to refuel before passing
through breeches in the enemy obstacle belt. Racing north, then
east, the division moved in a vast armada of armor, stretching
from horizon to horizon, Within 24 hours, the first Team had
gone 300 kilometers, slicing deep into the enemy's rear. As the
division prepared to destroy a Republican Guard division, the
cease fire halted it.
Division units setup defensive positions where the cease fire
had stopped their attack, then expanded north to "Highway 8,"
clearing bunkers and looking for enemy equipment and soldiers.
The 1st (Ironhorse) Brigade stretched through the historic
Euphrates River Valley. Within 2 weeks the 1st Cav moved south
into Saudi Arabia and its new assembly area (AA) Killeen. There
on the plain of the Wadi al Batin - the Cav began to prepare for
Operation Desert Storm, the First Team had several firsts:
"First" to defend along the Saudi-Iraq border; "First" to fire
Copperhead artillery rounds in combat; "First" to conduct
intensive MLRS artillery raids; and in its pre-G-Day attacks the
First Team was "First" to conduct mounted combat in Iraq.
Unprecedented logistical and communications requirements were
met consistently by the Division Support Command and the 13th
Signal Battalion with its Mobile Subscriber Equipment.
the division in AA Killeen on Palm Sunday, VII (US) Corps
Commander Lt. Gen. Frederick Franks emphasized the division's
major role in the allied victory. "You were leading the corps -
you were the major combat power VII Corps had. You were the
First Team. You led us into combat. You began the fight, you led
return to the United States, the 1st Cavalry Division became the
largest division in the Army, with the reactivation of its 3rd
"Greywolf" Battle Team May 21 1991. Included in this battle team
was the 3rd Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment; 1st and 3rd
Battalions, 67th Armor, 1st Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery
Regiment; and the 502nd (redesignated 215th) Forward Support
1992 saw the activation of the Engineer Brigade, 1st Cavalry
Division. Through the Army's "Engineer Restructuring
Initiative," the nucleus of the brigade was formed around the
division's historic 8th Engineer Battalion. The 20th Engineer
Battalion was brought from Fort Campbell, Kentucky to join the
brigade and the 91st Engineer Battalion was activated to
1992, the unit designations for the battalions remaining from
the former "Tiger" Brigade of the 2nd Armored Division were
returned to them prior to their reactivation at Fort Hood on
December 2, 1992. This action was done to realign the historical
designations of units to their parent divisions.
29, the Cav in turn regained the titles of its historical units:
3-41 Infantry was redesignated 1-9 Cavalry, 1-67 Armor became
3-8 Cavalry, and 1-3 Field Artillery took the title 2-82 Field
Artillery. On December 16, 1992, other 1st Cavalry Division
units redesignated to accomplish the realignments for historical
purposes. These changes included: 1-32 Armor redesignating as
2-12 Cavalry, 3-32 Armor to 1-12 Cavalry, and Battery A, 333
Field Artillery to Battery B, 26th Field Artillery.
of 1993, the reflagging actions were completed when the 2nd
Armored Division's 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry was reflagged the
2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, which was assigned to the
First Team's 3rd Greywolf Brigade.
its reorganization, the division became the Army's largest
division and only armored contingency force, ready to deploy
anywhere in the world on a moment's notice.
elements of the First Team have returned to Kuwait no less than
three times - as part of a ten-year training agreement between
the U.S. and Kuwait and also in a crisis situation when Iraq
infringed on Kuwaiti border rules.
the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, California remains a
mainstay of training for the division which deploys brigades
there three times a year. Here they have 1,000 square miles for
maneuver training against the best trained opposing force in the
recently, the 1st Cavalry Division was selected to assume the
mission of "Task Force Eagle," conducting peace support
operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina. On 16 April 1998, the decision
to send the First Team on this unique and challenging mission
was announced. Following 4 months of highly successful and
intensive planning, training, and maintaining, "Americas' First
Team" assumed the mission of ensuring peace and stability
7, 1998, The First Cavalry Division, under the command of Maj.
Gen. Kevin P. Byrnes, assumed authority of the Multinational
Division (North) area of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from
the 1st Armored Division. The division was the first CONUS based
division to assume this mission.
Cav's mission was to conduct operations to enforce the military
provisions set forth by the Dayton Accords. The 1st Cav soldiers
served as our nation's ambassadors. 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 nad checkpoint and convoy operations. Training was
conducted on all levels including individual readiness training,
leader/staff training, Operation Joint Forge Training and the
Mission Rehearsal Exercise.
soldiers were placed in position of responsibilities never
before experienced. These responsibilities ranged form
monitoring former warring factions to assisting in the return of
displaced persons and refugees.
preparation for the deployment included preparing family members
for the long separation. The 1st Cav's family and soldiers'
readiness program set a new Army standard. The First Team set
the conditions to build self-sufficiency in our families.
division expertly executed the SFOR 4 and 5 missions in
Bosnia-Herzegovina and set new standards for follow on units.
The SFOR 4
was comprised of soldiers from 2-5 Cav, 1-8 Cav, 2-8 Cav, 1-82
FA, 20 ENG Bde, A Battery 4-5 ADA, 1-545th MPs, 4th Bde HQs &
2-227th AVN Bn, the ENG Bde HQs, 13th Sig Bn, 312th MI Bn, III
Corps units to include elements from 13th COSCOM, 410 MP Co, 205
MI Bn, 15 PSB and 15th Finance Bn. In six months, they conducted
more than 11, 000 day inspections and conducted combined
missions with the Russians.
comprised of soldiers from HHC 2nd Brigade, 1-5 Cav, 1-12 Cav,
2-12 Cav, 3-82 FA, 91st ENG BN, C 4-5 ADA, 2/545th MPs, 15th
FSB, and 1-7th Cav. They conducted daily mounted presence
patrols in their HMMWVs and occasionally, in armored vehicles,
among the Bosniac, Serb and Croat populace.
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.
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.
crew chiefs and mechanics set a new Army benchmark for safety
and the number of hours flown--over 17,000 flying hours.
Engineers monitored the demining of more than 80,000 square
meters of contested land and supervised the construction of 41
million dollars worth of base camp improvements.
Operation Clear Skies
attacks of September 11, 2001, the military accelerated plans
for the use of joint forces to protect key national assets from
terrorist attack. After extensive planning and coordination,
elements of 4-5 ADA and 13th Signal were deployed as a task
force to Washington, DC.
Soldiers arrived to man Sentinel radars, Avengers, and Stinger
missiles under the command of First Air Force. The
troopers quickly prepared to engage and destroy any airborne
threat declared hostile to the National Capital Region.
The Task Force’s operation was the first military defense of
Washington since the Anti-Ballistic Missile systems of the
remained vigilant and ready to destroy any hostile threat 24
hours a day, seven days a week.Their discipline and skill
provided the deterrence needed to keep the
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM
month after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001,
President Bush initiated Operation Enduring Freedom.
following month, US Forces entered Afghanistan to begin
offensives directed at those organizations and governments who
were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks.
15, 2001, the Division’s 545th Military Police Company deployed
and was assigned to HQ-ARCENT located in Bagram, Afghanistan.
The MP’s were responsible for interrogating and processing
nearly 2500 detainees.
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM
2003, select divisional units were designated to deploy in
support of Operation Iraqi Freedom through the initial phase of
combat culminating in the liberation of the Iraqi people from
the tyrannical rule of Saddam Hussein.
specialized units, including attack helicopters from 1-227
Aviation Battalion provided aviation assets to the operations;
maintenance support for the battalion was provided by the 615th
Aviation support battalion. Airfield security was provided by
1-21 Field Artillery. The 68th chemical company as
attached to 3rd Infantry Division serving as a Hazardous
material response team.
On 24 March
2003, helicopters of the 1-227th engaged the elite Republican
Guard Medina Division. An AH-64D Apache piloted by Chief
warrant officers’ Williams and Young were downed by enemy ground
Williams and Young became the first 1st Cavalry Division POW’s
since the Korean War. Twenty two days later Williams and
Young along with other US POW’s were rescued by US Marines.
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM II
In the fall
of 2003, the division as a whole was ordered to prepare for
deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom II. In preparation,
for deployment the Division provides training at National
Training Center, Joint Readiness Training Center and at Fort
Hood. Training included combat operations, working with city
services and cultural awareness.
Division elements began deploying to the theater of operations
and in April 2004 the division assumed command and control of
Task Force Baghdad. During the division’s tour of duty, Task
Force Baghdad’s ranks swelled to more than 39,000 uniformed
members including active duty, reserve, national guard Soldiers,
US Marines, and international coalition partners.
Division engaged in multiple lines of operations simultaneously
to defeat the enemy and win the support of the Iraqi people.
Combat Operations, Train & employ Security Forces, Essential
Services, Promote Governance, and Economic Pluralism) while
mutual supporting, were discrete, the sixth – Information
Operations – when used properly amplified the
effectiveness of everything the Division did. The
Division helped the Iraqi people forge a new, democratic
government --- the first in that nation’s history.
events in the march toward true democracy occurred during the
division’s year in the Iraqi capital: first, the coalition
returned sovereignty to the people of Iraq in June 2004; and
second, the national elections of January 2005 demonstrated the
resolve of the Iraqi people to gain control of their own
division transferred authority to the 3d Infantry Division in
February 2005 and completed redeployment on April 2