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1st Cavalry Division
"First Team"

The 1st Cavalry Division, "First Team," Following its transformation to the US Army's modular structure between 2005 and 2006, and with over 17,000 soldiers, the 1st Cavalry Division became the premier heavy division in United States Army. The organization initially reflected the basic modular configuration, with 4 heavy maneuver brigades, a combat aviation brigade (known in the Division as the Air Cavalry Brigade), and a Sustainment Brigade. Various other elements, including the Division's Band and the 1st Cavalry Division's unique Horse Detachment, were integrated into a Special Troops Battalion at division level.

However, eventually the decision was made to remove sustainment brigades from assignment to their associated divisions and place them at corps level. While the 15th Sustainment Brigade continued to be responsible for supporting the 1st Cavalry Division, it was placed under the administrative control of the 13th Expeditionary Support Command. Similarly, a relationship was formed with the 41st Fires Brigade, also a III Corps asset. In 2010, the decision was made to inactivate division special troops battalions in favor of reorganizing and redesignating division headquarters elements as headquarters and headquarters battalions. The Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, which traced its lineage immediately before to the Division's Adjunct General Company was reflagged as the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, which traced its lineage immediately before to the Headquarters and Tactical Command Posts, 1st Cavalry Division. The 1st Cavalry Division as a whole has roots dating back to 1921, and traced a history back to the mid-1800s, leading it to have an extremely rich and distinctive history.

After the attacks of 11 September 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 4-5th Air Defense Artillery and 13th Signal Battalion were deployed as a task force to Washington, DC. Over 150 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 1970s. They remained vigilant and ready to destroy any hostile threat 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Just one month after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, President Bush initiated Operation Enduring Freedom. The following month, US Forces entered Afghanistan to begin offensives directed at those organizations and governments who were directly and indirectly responsible for the attacks. On 15 December 2001, the Division's 545th Military Police Company deployed and was assigned to Headquarters - US Army Central Command (HQ-ARCENT) located in Bagram, Afghanistan. The MP's were responsible for interrogating and processing of nearly 2,500 detainees.

As of late 2002 the 1st Cavalry Division was transitioning to a "digitialized" equipped force. Unclassified sources listed one maneuver brigade per year as transitioning, beginning in FY01. Therefore, only 2 of the Division's 3 ground maneuver brigades were transitioned as of late 2002, and probably only one brigade was retrained to use the new equipment.

The 1st Cavalry Division received deployment orders on 2 March 2003 to reposition forces as required to support the President Bush's Global War on Terrorism. The III Corp's release did not specify where the Division was being sent though a release from the Division itself stated that it would be sent to the Central Command (CENTCOM) Area of Operations (AOR). This deployment order was later cancelled or postponed following the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In early 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 Iraq from Saddam Hussein. These specialized units, including attack helicopters from 1-227th Aviation, provided aviation assets to the operations. Maintenance support for the battalion was provided by the 615th Aviation Support Battalion. Airfield security was provided by 1-21st 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 fire. Chiefs 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.

During a DOD briefing on 23 July 2003 the 1st Cavalry Division was identified as a unit that would deploy in 2004 as part of the Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 rotation. 1st Cavalry Division announced in August 2003 that it would deploy to the CENTCOM AOR in early 2004. The Division's 2nd Brigade Combat Team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team) was to begin deploying in January 2004, followed by the remainder of the Division. Joining the Division in the rotation was the 39th Infantry Brigade (Separate) (Enhanced). The deployment was expected to last one year.

The transition of authority to the 1st Cavalry Division, based at Fort Hood, Texas, was a long process. Planning went into high gear. Combined Joint Task Force (CJTF) 7 officials did not want to lose the experience that the 1st Armored Division had painfully built up in a year in Baghdad. Officials from the 1st Cavalry Division visited their counterparts in Baghdad, and 1st Armored Division personnel began sending information to Fort Hood. The 1st Cavalry Division went through training at Fort Hood, Texas, the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, and the Joint National Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana, before deploying. Training included combat operations, working with city services and cultural awareness.

The 1st Cavalry Division also began getting raw data from Baghdad and running its own analyses. They then matched their conclusions with those of the 1st Armored Division people in Iraq. In January 2004, Division elements began deploying to the theater of operations and in April 2004 the Division assumed command and control of Task Force Baghdad. Key staff people met with their counterparts, and the initial party laid the foundation for follow-on groups.

They began a "left-seat/right-seat" training regimen. Under this program, 1st Cavalry Division soldiers observed 1st Armored Division soldiers doing their jobs. They would then switch. The 1st Cavalry person would do the job and the 1st Armored Division personnel would critique the soldier's performance. This training went right down to the squad level. However, the 1st Cavalry Division did not just duplicate what the 1st Armored Division did. For example, the 1st Cavalry Division was not based at the Baghdad airport, as the armored division was. Eventually, the airport wpi;d revert to the Iraqi people, and they would need the space.

By March 2004 troopers stayed in Camp New York for only a few days, while part of the 1st Cavalry Division waited for its vehicles and equipment to convoy them to Baghdad. To stay cool, the soldiers temporarily living in the camp stayed in air-conditioned tents and slept on cots in huge bay-like areas. The tents also had lighting and electricity. About a quarter-mile away from the sleeping quarters, soldiers could clean up in the shower trailer with warm-running water. Although there was running water, there were not any sewers and using the facilities included locking the door to the port-a-john.

On 15 April 2004, Task Force Baghdad, made up mostly of the 1st Cavalry Division, assumed responsibility for Baghdad and its environs from the 1st Armored Division. Portions of the 1st Armored Division, which had its headquarters in Wiesbaden, Germany, remained in Iraq as part of the combat force plus-up that Army General John Abizaid, US Central Command commander, had requested.

There were 3 Rest and Relaxation options available to soldiers in the 1st Cavalry Division. Option 1: Green Zone. Soldiers were given the opportunity to go to the Green Zone for 3-4 days. It was a nice area with a mall, swimming pool and other recreation things to entertain the soldiers. Option 2: Qatar. Qatar was a lot like the Green Zone, but it was more of a resort. Option 3: Mid-tour leave, which consisted of 15 days chargeable leave. The leave days did not start until the soldier reached his/her destination. The units had to have 90 percent combat strength at all times. All 3 R&R options were mission dependent and were subject to change.

The Freedom Rest Program that was located in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq. The program lasts 5 days and 4 nights. The soldier had at their disposal video games, weight room, swimming pools, dining facility, a small PX and some other actives for their leisure. The soldier did not have to pay for anything, except for items in the PX.

The next program was the CJTF-7 Fighter Management pass program (FMPP) at Camp As-Sayliyah, Qatar. It was 5 days/4 nights for 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division personnel deployed in Iraq for rest and recuperation (R&R). The in-theater pass was free to 3rd Brigade Combat Team personnel, which provided meals and lodging. Additional amenities, to include name brand fast food, shopping trips, local excursions, fishing trips, water sports and golf. Billeting was warehoused, air conditioned, communal tents. Alcoholic beverages were limited to 3 drinks per day at the Club Oasis located on the pass site. Local excursions were permitted.

The last program was the Environmental Leave Program. Under this program a spouse would receive 2 weeks home on leave. The leave would start the day after they signed in at one of the 3 hubs. The hubs were Atlanta, Dallas, and Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) Airport. There was a possibility that the BWI hub might be discontinued. The military would fly Soldiers for free to one of these hubs and then to the airport nearest their final location. They would actually get 2 weeks on the ground. The leave did not include travel time from and to Iraq by way of the hub. Units were mandated by the 1st Cavalry Division to also fill these slots.

The priority of who went on environmental leave was broken down into categories. There were 6 categories with Category I as the highest and Category VI being the lowest. Below is the description of each category:

  • Category I: This consisted of personnel that had family members that died, but did not fit under the Division emergency leave policy. Under Division's emergency, the soldier's immediate family had to unfortunately pass away for him to return home. If the soldier's spouse's father died, he does not fit under the Division's emergency leave policy. The Battalion Commander controled this. He determined who and when someone went home under this category.
  • Category II: Personnel with children that were born while the soldier was deployed to Iraq qualified under this category. If the child was born after the soldier got on the plane to deploy, then the soldier qualifed for this category. This also consisted of Soldiers with a baby on the way. Soldiers would be sent home after the baby was born. The reason for this was that if the baby was not born during the 2 weeks you would not be extended. Only for C-section would the soldier be considered for going home before the baby was born. This was controlled at battalion level.
  • Category III: This was for personnel that came from an unaccompanied tour (i.e. Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan) and did not get the 90 days with their dependants. This was only for soldiers with dependants. This was also controlled at battalion level.
  • Category IV: Most of the soldiers qualified for this category. This category consisted of personnel who have not been to Freedom Rest or Qatar. If the soldier had gone to Freedom Rest or Qatar after 1 June 2004 than they would fall to a lower category. This category was controlled at company level.
  • Category V: Personnel who had been to Freedom Rest after 1 June 2004, but had not been to environmental leave or Qatar were in this category. This was controlled at company level.
  • Category VI: Personnel who have been to Qatar, but had not gone on environmental leave qualified for this category.

Once a soldier had gone on environmental leave, he or she would not be eligible for any more Freedom Rest or trips to Qatar unless everyone who wanted to go on environmental leave had gone on leave. Personnel who wanted to go on leave, but were not allotted that option could go to Freedom Rest and Qatar as many times as possible with slots allotted and mission tempo.

The last piece of this was an Order of Merit (OML) for each category. Every month the Battalion got the slots available to the company for environmental leave, Freedom Rest and Qatar. For the month of June 2004, the Soldiers drew 10 dog tags out of an ammo can. The soldiers drawn were the first 10 that would go on leave. If the slots for the month was 5 for Category IV, then the first 5 would go and the next 5 would move up for the slots available in July 2004. Once the 10 were drawn, they were put off to the side and conducted the Freedom Rest lottery. To participate in the Environmental leave lottery you had to participate in the Freedom Rest and Qatar lottery. If a Soldier got picked for the Freedom Rest they fell into Category V. If they did not want to go to Freedom Rest they did not have to, but they still fell to a Category V whether they went or not. The same went for the Qatar lottery. There were some good things about the lottery. With the amount of Freedom Rest slots, there would be more Category Vs than Category IVs and also the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division was getting a lot of slots for leave. This meant that soldiers that fall to Category V due to Freedom Rest still had a good chance to go on leave.

During the deployment, 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. The Division engaged in multiple lines of operations simultaneously to defeat the enemy and win the support of the Iraqi people. Missions like Combat operations, train and employ security forces, essential services, promote governance, and economic pluralism, while mutual supporting, were discrete. The sixth mission, 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.

Two major 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. Second, the national elections of January 2005 demonstrated the resolve of the Iraqi people to gain control of their own country. The Division transferred authority to the 3rd Infantry Division in February 2005 and completed redeployment on 2 April 2005.

Upon returning from Iraq, the Division began the transformation to the US Army's modular force structure. It reactivated its 4th Brigade Combat Team, which had existed for only a short period during the early 1970s. It inactivated its Division Artillery, Division Support Command, and most of its other division level assets. As part of the modular transformation, assets held at division level, but habitually assigned to its brigades during operations were made organic to those brigades. This obviated the need for administrative entities at division level.




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