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11th Armored Cavalry Regiment

The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment's unique mission is vital to the readiness of our army. That mission is to provide the US Army the most capable and lethal combined arms opposing force in the world. The 11th ACR is the Army's premier maneuver unit-the opposing force at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. There, the Blackhorse trains the United States Army-one unit at a time-in the brutally harsh climate of the Mojave Desert. Consequently, the tough and uncompromising standards of the 11th ACR have become the yardstick against which the rest of the Army measures itself.

The 11th ARMORED CAVALRY REGIMENT "Blackhorse" has the primary mission of serving as the parent organization for the NTC's Opposing Force. The 11th ACR presently consists of 1st Squadron, 11th ACR; 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR; Support Squadron, 11th ACR; and a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop. The 11th ACR provides a professional "enemy" against which visiting Army and National Guard task forces do battle when they come to the National Training Center to train.

The 11th ACR was reactivated 26 October 1994 at the National Training Center and has the primary mission of serving as the parent organization for the NTC's Opposing Force. The 11th ACR presently consists of 1st Squadron, 11th ACR; 2nd Squadron, 11th ACR; Support Squadron, 11th ACR; and a Headquarters and Headquarters Troop. The 11th ACR provides a professional "enemy" against which visiting Army and National Guard task forces do battle when they come to the National Training Center to train. The Regiment serves as the opposing force (OPFOR) in exercises designed to train Army battalion and brigade task forces in tactical and operational level skills under near-combat conditions.

To train America's Army for future conflicts, the National Training Center undergoes a monthly transformation into the fictitious country of Mojavia. Krasnovian soldiers in the 11th Division Tactical Group that has invaded the small desert nation. It's the opposing force's job to provide a hostile, highly trained force capable of combating more than 70,000 active-duty, National Guard and Reserve soldiers who go through the training rotations each year.

To provide a realistic training environment, Blackhorse soldiers wear a special desert camouflage uniform and operate Sheridan tanks and armored personnel carriers modified to look like Soviet-made equipment. Civilian protesters, terrorists and guerilla forces round out the war game scenario and provide an extra sense of realism for soldiers testing their mettle against the rugged desert terrain.

The 11th Cavalry's motto, "Allons," means "Let's Go"-and the regiment has been doing just that ever since it was activated by an Act of Congress as a horse cavalry regiment at Fort Myer on the 2d of February 1901-one hundred years ago this year. That was a busy period for the Army. The Spanish-American war had just ended, and Elihu Root, Secretary of War, was instituting reforms-trying to change the Army to keep it relevant-and the 11th Cavalry was a fundamental part of that change.

After attaining victory in the Spanish-American War of 1898, the United States found itself with the new task of Territorial Administration. In large part the job fell to the regular Army. Found to be undermanned for the mission, Congress increased the standing army by five infantry and five cavalry Regiments. Thus, on 2 February 1901, the 11th Cavalry Regiment was the first of five newly formed cavalry regiments. The 11th Armored Cavalry was constituted 2 February 1901 in the Regular Army as the 11th Cavalry. Organized 11 March 1901 at Fort Myer, Virginia. The 12th, 13th, 14th and the 15th Cavalry Regiments followed.

On 11 March 1901, the first recruits of the new Regiment reported for training at Fort Myer, Virginia. A combat tested veteran of the Civil War, who also gave distinguished service in the Spanish-American War, was tasked with raising the Regiment and serving as its first commanding officer. But like all new organizations, there were some growing pains. In fact, the magnitude of the problems confronting the organization of the new 11th Cavalry caused the 1st Squadron Commander to include the following woeful statement in a dispatch to the War Department pleading for more officer personnel: 'Bengal 6' said, "I have 400 horses that have never seen a soldier, 400 recruits that have never seen a horse, and 4 second lieutenants that have never seen a trooper or a horse."

Despite this rather inauspicious beginning, the regiment grew quickly in size, capability, and reputation-deploying around the world in the defense of our great nation: baptized by fire while putting down the Philippine insurrection; then off to Cuba to boldly assert American presence; conducted the last mounted cavalry charge in American history on the 5th of May, 1916, while pursuing Pancho Villa's rebel army across Mexico.

It was assigned in August 1927 to the 3d Cavalry Division. Relieved in March 1933 from assignment to the 3d Cavalry Division. The unit experimented with scout cars during the interwar years-the first mechanized cavalry vehicles, and survived the trading of horses for steel mounts It was assigned in October 1933 to the 2d Cavalry Division. Relieved in October 1940 from assignment to the 2d Cavalry Division. Inactivated 15 July 1942 at Fort Benning, Georgia; personnel and equipment concurrently transferred to the 11th Armored Regiment. Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 11th Cavalry, redesignated 19 April 1943 as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 11th Cavalry Group, Mechanized. Activated 5 May 1943 at Camp Anza, California (Remainder of the 11th Cavalry disbanded 26 October 1944). The redesignated unit fought bravely in World War II.

Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 11th Cavalry Group, Mechanized, converted and redesignated 1 May 1946 as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 11th Constabulary Regiment. Reorganized and redesignated 2 February 1948 as Headquarters and Headquarters and Service Troop, 11th Constabulary Regiment.

Converted and redesignated 30 November 1948 as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 11th Armored Cavalry, and inactivated in Germany; organization of the 11th Armored Cavalry (inactive) completed 30 November 1948 by reconstitution and/or redesignation of elements of the 11th Cavalry and Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Constabulary Regiment. Consolidated 8 January 1951 with the 11th Tank Battalion and consolidated unit designated as the 11th Armored Cavalry. Activated 1 August 1951 at Camp Carson, Colorado (95th Tank Battalion consolidated 1 October 1958 with the 3d Battalion, 11th Armored Cavalry). It was deployed to southern Germany during the early years of the Cold War and patrolled the German-Czech border.

The unit became a legendary fighting force in Vietnam and Cambodia-5 years of valor, 14 battle streamers, and three Medals of Honor-Hal Fritz, Jerry Wickham, and Rodney Yano.

Air Troop inactivated 20 March 1972 in Vietnam; 2d Squadron inactivated 6 April 1972 in Vietnam; Air Troop and 2d Squadron activated 17 May 1972 in Germany.

On 17 May 1972 the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment once again unfurled its colors in Germany. This time it was at the famous Fulda Gap. The Regiment assumed a new, two-fold mission; defending the Fulda Gap against a possible Warsaw Pact attack while also conducting day-to-day surveillance of 385 kilometers of the Iron Curtain dividing East and West Germany. The Regiment relieved the inactivated 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment and joined V Corps - "The Victory Corps." Observation Posts (OP's) served as base camps as well as vantage points for observation. First Squadron occupied OP Alpha near Hunfeld-Schlitz-Lauterbach. Second Squadron was at Camp Lee northeast of Bad Kissingen near Bad Neustadt. Troops were dispatched to OP Tennessee. Third Squadron manned two OP's; Romeo, overlooking the Eisenach-Bad Hersfeld autobahn, at Herleshausen, which was a legal crossing point.

In orders dated 16 May 1991, as part of the Operation POSITIVE FORCE, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed the 11th ACR to deploy immediately to Kuwait in order to sustain a presence there. 13 June, only two weeks after the first Blackhorse soldier had arrived in theatre, the Regiment assumed from 1st Brigade, 3d Armored Division the responsibility for defending Kuwait. The Regiment's new base camp was a sprawling complex surrounded by an eight-foot high wall. The three line squadrons took turns pulling "Z Cycle", a designation that included responsibility for security. Manning gates, towers, the Z Squadron kept a platoon-size Quick Reaction Force (QRF) on alert around the clock, seven days a week. The QRF deployed off the compound without notice at least twice daily, a muscle-flexing exercise. On the morning of 11 July a defective vehicle heater triggered a motor pool fire in the north compound of Blackhorse Base Camp. Despite valiant efforts to extinguish it, the blaze burned out of control and began detonating ammunition stored in and around the Regiment's vehicle fleet. The resulting shower of shrapnel and unexploded ordnance forced the evacuation of the entire compound and caused extensive damage. Some fifty Blackhorse troopers suffered injuries that day, a number that would have been far higher had it not been for numerous individual acts of heroism and the Regiment's disciplined response to the emergency. Miraculously, there were no fatalities.

Activated 16 October 1994 (less 3d and 4th Squadrons; the Air Defense Artillery Battery; and the Howitzer Batteries, 1st and 2d Squadrons) at Fort Irwin, California.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:20:24 ZULU