4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
The 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Regiment's aviation element, was an integral component of the Regiment's combined arms team and was prepared for worldwide deployment in support of the Regiment of Mounted Riflemen. The 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the Longknife Squadron, originated from the Aviation section assigned to the Regiment while stationed at Happstadten, Germany in 1961. In July 1968, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, with the Aviation section, redeployed to the United States and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington.
The Regiment, along with the Aviation section and a recently formed Air Cavalry Troop, relocated from Fort Lewis, Washington to Fort Bliss, Texas in 1972. In 1982, the Aviation section was consolidated and redesignated as the Regimental Support Aviation Troop (RSAT) which, along with the Air Cavalry Troop (ACT), provided the Regiment with airborne command and control, troop lift, aerial resupply, and medical evacuation capabilities.
The Air Cavalry Troop and the Regimental Support Aviation Troop were combined in December 1985 to form the 3rd Combat Aviation Squadron (Provisional). This provisional Squadron first demonstrated its contribution to the Regimental Combined Arms Team during a rotation to the National Training Center in 1987. The following year, the Squadron deployed to REFORGER to participate in the last REFORGER exercise prior to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
The Squadron was officially activated as the 4th Squadron, 3d ACR in October 1988. At the time of its activation, it consisted of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (HHT), 3 Air Cavalry Troops (N, O, P Troops), 2 Attack Troops (Q and R Troops), an Assault Troop (S Troop), and an Aviation Unit Maintenance Troop (T Troop). Within these organizations, the Squadron was equipped with the AH-1 Cobra Attack Helicopter, the OH-58A/C Kiowa Helicopter, the UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter, and the EH-60 Quickfix Electronic Warfare Helicopter.
In September 1990, the Squadron deployed to Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield and established Longknife Base Camp in North Central Saudi Arabia. On the morning of 24 February 1991, the Squadron crossed the border into Iraq and commenced offensive operations in support of the Regiment, attacking deep into Iraqi territory, moving more than 350 kilometers in less then 72 hours. Upon the Coalition Forces' victory, the Squadron redeployed to Fort Bliss, Texas in March 1991.
In late 1995, the Squadron initiated its relocation from Fort Bliss to Fort Carson, Colorado. In December 1995, the 2 Attack Troops (Q and R Troops) were deactivated and their OH-58A/C and AH-1 aircraft were turned in. On 15 January 1996, the 2 Attack Troops were reactivated and equipped with the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter. The relocation to Fort Carson, Colorado was completed in March 1996.
The 571st Medical Company (Air Ambulance) was assigned to the Squadron in August 1996 with 15 additional UH-60 Blackhawk aircraft. With the addition of the 571st, the Squadron grew to a total of 83 combat aircraft and 700 Troopers, the largest Aviation Squadron/Battalion in the United States Army.
The Squadron continued its Attack, Air Cavalry, Assault, Electronic Warfare and Medevac missions in support of the Regiment and the Mountain Post not only at home station, but also during deployments to the National Training Center, Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, Operation Green Flag (Nellis, Air Force Base), Operation Northern Edge (Alaska), Operation Intrinsic Action (Kuwait), Medevac support to Joint Task Force Sic, Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Riley, Kansas and to wildland firefighting contingencies throughout the Western United States.
Commencing in October 1998, the Squadron was to transfer all remaining OH-58 and AH-1 aircraft and would be modernized with 24 OH-58D Kiowa Warriors. This reorganization under the Army Restructuring Initiative would again distinguish the Squadron as the only Squadron/Battalion in the active force equipped with AH-64, UH-60A/L, EH-60A, and OH-58D aircraft.
The 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's 4th Squadron, the largest battalion-sized aviation organization in the Army, fielded the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. When the fielding completed by the end of FY99, the 4th Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment had completed fielding both the AH-64A Apache and the OH-58D Kiowa Warrior. The squadron then possessed the capability to even further extend the "eyes" of the Army's only active armored cavalry regiment at the time.
Beginning in September 2001, 1st Squadron with elements of the Regimental Headquarters, 4th Squadron, and the Regimental Support Squadrons, deployed to Egypt to participate in the Bright Star 01/02 exercise, as part of a Combined Forces Land Component Command (CFLCC) coalition. The coalition included Elements from the US Marine Corps, Egypt, France, Kuwait, Greece, Italy, and the British Army. The soldiers took part in field training and live fire exercises while in Egypt. They also conducted training on nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare, mine warfare, and the use of smoke on the battlefield. In addition, members of 1st Squadron and the Regimental Staff were tasked to conduct affiliation training with their Egyptian counterparts to teach them to function as Observer/Controllers (OC) for the forces involved in ground tactical operations, as well as establishing and maintaining communications and command and control between the various multinational OC forces.
During the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment's deployment to Iraq between 2004 and 2006, the center of enemy support in its zone was the city of Tall Afar, where the Regimental headquarters would be established. During April 2005 and the first half May 2005, the Regiment operated in South Baghdad while it sent advanced elements North to begin securing the city of Tall Afar. 2nd Squadron entered combat operations in Tall Afar on 27 April 2005, immediately upon its arrival. The Regimental, split between 2 locations, continued to operate at an intense pace. In South Baghdad, 1st Squadron, 3rd Squadron, and 2-70th Armor conducted detailed offensive reconnaissance operations in the area and severely disrupted a previously unchallenged enemy safe-haven. The Regimental headquarters, 1st Squadron, Support Squadron, and 4th Squadron moved to Tall Afar in mid-may. 3rd Squadron remained in South Baghdad attached to the 3rd Infantry Division to provide much-needed combat power and experience while the Rest of the Regiment moved North. The Regiment immediately expanded its control in Western Ninewa province, covering over 10,000 square kilometers of land. It moved 1st Squadron to a series of remote locations along a 270 kilometer Syrian-Iraq Border to interdict the flow of foreign fighters. 2nd Squadron continued to battle a stubborn enemy in the city of Tall Afar. It soon became clear after a number of intense engagements with the enemy in Tall Afar that the Regiment needed to attack this enemy safe haven. Between June and August 2005, the Regiment set conditions for a major offensive against the enemy safe haven in Tall Afar. This operation was called Operation Restoring Rights.
Operation Restoring Rights included forces from 1st Squadron, 2nd Squadron, Support Squadron, the Air Squadron (4th Squadron), and various US Special Forces formations. Additionally, Iraqi Army formations moved into the city en masse, consisting of 5,000 soldiers from the Iraqi Army 3rd Division (partnered with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment), 1,000 soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the 1st Brigade of the 2nd Iraqi Army Division (from Irbil and partnered with the US Special Forces), and Iraqi Special Forces commandoes. Additionally, an Iraqi Police Brigade and Mosul Police units moved in to provide perimeter security. Operation Restoring Rights began in late August 2005 as 1st Squadron and its Iraqi Army Brigade moved into Tall Afar and began conducting focused raids on the Western part of Tall Afar, while 2nd Squadron and its Iraqi Army Brigade moved to isolate the enemy strongpoint in the Sarai District. Meanwhile, as the Regiment moved to isolate the eastern portion of the city, the enemy put up an intense fight against 1st Squadron as they pursued them relentlessly through the Western part of the city. Apaches attack and Kiowa scout helicopters from 4th Squadron tracked the enemy while ground forces pursued them into their safe haven, destroying them with direct fire from ground platforms and hellfire missiles from the air. Air Force munitions were used against especially hardened defensive positions.
Upon returning from deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 04-06 in March of 2006 to Fort Carson, Colorado, the Regiment underwent dramatic changes to its organization as part of the transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. As the Regiment prepared for a BRAC move to Fort Hood, many Troopers remained behind to form the nucleus of a new brigade belonging to the 4th Infantry Division. On 13 July 2006, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment uncased its colors at Fort Hood, Texas opening a new chapter in the Regimental history.
When the Regiment moved from Fort Carson to Fort Hood in 2006, the foremost concern was personnel. The Regiment brought only 550 Troopers down from Colorado. After the uncasing ceremony, the Regiment began receiving new Troopers in bulk. In conjunction with the uncasing ceremony, 1-1st Aviation was reflagged as 4th Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the new Longknife Squadron. The inflow of personnel remained constant enough to where the Regiment met 99 percent of its authorized strength and was ready to conduct the extensive collective training of the 3rd Quarter, 2006. The Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Troop, previously assigned to the Regimental Support Squadron, was also reassigned to the 4th Squadron. The Squadron converted its AH-64A helicopter to the improved AH-64D Apache Longbow variant.
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