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2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division

The mission of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, "Blackjack," is to, on order, deploy to any theater, execute operations, redeploy, and prepare for future operations.

The history of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division can be traced to 29 August 1917, when it was first constituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters, 2nd Cavalry Brigade. It was organized on 27 December 1917 at Fort Bliss, Texas, as an element of the 15th Cavalry Division. The Brigade's first service was largely a saga of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border and constant training. It was relieved on 12 May 1918 from assignment to the 15th Cavalry Division and demobilized on 9 July 1919 at Fort Bliss, Texas.

It was reconstituted on 20 August 1921 in the Regular Army as Headquarters, 2nd Cavalry Brigade and assigned as a member of the 1st Cavalry Division (later redesignated as the 1st Cavalry Division, Special). The unit was organized on 14 September 1921 at Fort Bliss, Texas. At that time, subordinate units consisted of the 2nd Machine Gun Squadron, the 7th and 8th Cavalry Regiments.

In February 1943, the 2nd Brigade was alerted for an overseas assignment as a dismounted infantry unit assigned to the Pacific theater. The Blackjack Brigade participated in many Pacific campaigns to include Leyte, Luzon and Los Negros, and culminated its participation in World War II as part of the army of occupation in Japan in 1949. There it was inactivated on 25 March 1949 and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division, Special.

It was converted and redesignated on 20 May 1949 as the 2nd Constabulary Brigade. It was moved around the world as an element of the United States Constabulary Corps in Germany. The Brigade served in Germany until it was inactivated on 15 December 1951.

On 15 July 1963, the unit was converted and redesignated as the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The Brigade was reactivated on 1 September 1963 in Korea where it served until its colors were transferred to Fort Benning, Georgia as part of the reflagging of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile).

As an element of the 1st Cavalry Division, 2nd Brigade went to Vietnam in 1965. Within 90 days, the 2nd Brigade was back in combat as a part of the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. In September 1965, the 2nd Brigade consisted of 3 infantry battalions, the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 5th Cavalry and 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry. The Brigade's combat participation continued with such major battles as Operation Paul Revere II and Operation Toan Thang II in late 1968.

In 1971, the 2nd Brigade returned with the 1st Cavalry Division from Vietnam to Fort Hood, Texas. In October 1986 the Blackjack Brigade was organized under the Combined Arms Maneuver Battalion Concept retaining its existing battalions, which were subsequently reorganized.

In October 1990, the 2nd Brigade arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of Operation Desert Shield. On 20 February 1991, the Blackjack Brigade, in support of Operation Desert Storm, launched the first ground strike into Iraq with Operation Knight Strike. In August 1995, the Blackjack Brigade Combat Team (not to be confused with the modular brigade combat team) deployed to Kuwait on 48 hours notice for Operation Intrinsic Action in response to aggressive actions by Iraq. The Brigade returned to Fort Hood, Texas following extremely successful coalition training in November 1995.

From 1995 to 1998 the Blackjack Brigade deployed to 4 National Training Center Rotations and Foal Eagle 97 where, as the first fully modernized Brigade in the Army, it was the first US Army unit to deploy the M1A2 tank and the M88A2 recovery vehicle outside the continental United States.

In March 1999, the Blackjack Brigade deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Stabilization Force 5 (SFOR 5) in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Black Jack Brigade conducted a relief in place with the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division in order to maintain peace and stability in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During a critical period involving the Brcko Implementation Decision and the air war against the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, Blackjack soldiers displayed constant vigilance and professionalism maintaining peace and stability. In October 1999, the Brigade returned to Fort Hood, Texas. The Black Jack Brigade was called upon once again to be America's Vanguard as it maintained 7 month's of Division Ready Brigade status for the 1st Cavalry Division.

In November 2001, the Black Jack Brigade Combat Team deployed to Kuwait as a participant in Operation Enduring Freedom as a direct response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. The Brigade Combat Team prepared and subsequently deployed 14 days after notification and returned to Fort Hood, Hood in early April 2002 following a highly successful operational deployment.

The Black Jack Brigade Combat Team stood combat ready when the order to prepare to deploy for Operation Iraqi Freedom was given. The Brigade was integral in assisting the 4th Infantry Division deploy to Iraq, as well as preparing 1st Cavalry Division soldiers and equipment to deploy to Iraq. The Brigade stood down for the Iraq deployment in April 2003 and soon followed this mission with an National Training Center rotation in July 2003.

The Black Jack Brigade deployed to Iraq in January 2004 as the lead element for the 1st Cavalry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom I. During the initial deployment, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team was attached to the 1st Armored Division and patrolled Western Baghdad.

In what became almost a nightly ritual, Soldiers from A Company, 1-5th Cavalry, nicknamed the "Annihilators," lined up their vehicles on a quiet side street of the sleepy town, Abu Ghurayb, just before initiating a cordon and search mission late 17 March 2004. This time though, they were part of a huge, division-wide operation called "Iron Promise" designed to catch insurgents, former regime sympathizers and foreign fighters, or at least put them all on the run. "We are going to exploit insurgent threats in hopes of gathering more intelligence on people and weapons caches," Captain Joseph C. James, personnel officer and Public Affairs Officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2-12th Cavalry, also known as "Thunderhorse," said. "We will be part of a division-wide, coordinated and simultaneous sweep." As A/1-5th Cavalry rolled out to their destination, elements of all 2nd Brigade Combat Team's battalions, as well as 1st Armor Division assets also moved into position. In all, over 3000 Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team marched the streets to visit local Iraqis in their homes.

The Brigade fell back under the 1st Cavalry Division in May 2004. During Operation Iraqi Freedom I/II deployment, a 14 month combat tour, the Soldiers saw action in Western Baghdad, An Najef, Fallujah, and Northern Babil.

The Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, had hoped to be on their way back to Fort Hood, Texas, by the end of October 2004. However, it was announced on 4 October 2004 that the unit, which arrived in January 2004, would fulfill a full 12-month tour. The Brigade made their final haul from their trailers on Camp Black Jack to Camp Striker on 23 October 2004, a tent city 3 miles from their former home. At Striker, the Brigade continued operations. In doing this, they made way for the 256th "Tiger" Brigade Combat Team, a Louisiana National Guard infantry brigade. As the Black Jack Brigade moved from their homes of over 9 months and into much different facilities, they still must stay mission capable. To do this, all the battalions moved their headquarters first, and then the Brigade headquarters followed. If getting moved to a different location and taking on a new area of responsibility was not enough, the Blackjacks were also passing on their old area of operations to a Brigade which was just arriving in Iraq. The new group was eager to learn, asked a lot of questions, and were learning a lot. Introducing a fresh group to a new area also reminded the Black Jack Brigade members of how they were when they first arrived in Iraq, and how far they have come in their time here.

Following the deployment, the Black Jack Brigade underwent a transformation to the US Army's modular force structure. As part of the transformation, various assets that had been habitually assigned to the brigade during operations, but assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division as a whole were made organic to the Brigade or were integrated into a Brigade Special Troops Battalion. Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized and redesignated on 17 October 2005 as Headquarters, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division thereafter had a separate lineage. The reorganized 2nd Brigade Combat Team lost 2-12th Cavalry, but gained an organic cavalry squadron (4-9th Cavalry), a field artillery battalion (3-82nd Field Artillery), and 15th Brigade Support Battalion.

During the transformation, the Black Jack Brigade once again answered the call of the nation and deployed to New Orleans, Louisiana in support of the humanitarian relief effort following Hurricane Katrina. During the deployment, the Black Jack Brigade provided humanitarian and military assistance to the local governance and to the citizens of the Algiers district.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team returned to Iraq for its second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in October 2006. The Brigade assumed responsibility for central and southern Baghdad from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) also based at Fort Hood, Texas. On 23 November 2006, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team formally assumed responsibility of the area of operations from the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division in a brief ceremony.

Black Jack battalions hit the ground running and assumed a variety of counterinsurgency missions to repair and rebuild a nation crippled by 30 years under a totalitarian regime. By the fall of 2007, the Brigade enjoyed successes both in combat operations and along all major lines of operation: security, economic, essential services and governance. The Brigade continued to demonstrate its flexibility, lethality and compassion while simultaneously destroying or disrupting enemy forces and continuing civil military operations.

In January 2008, the Black Jack Brigade returned to Fort Hood, Texas after 15 months of continuous combat operations and began preparing to return to Iraq in January 2009 to the Sadr City and Adhamiyah neighborhoods of Baghdad as part of Multi-National Division Baghdad. The Brigade was diverted at the last minute to support operations in northern Iraq. At the time, Kirkuk was generally considered to be one of the most contentious areas in Iraq. The Black Jack Brigade conducted a partnership ceremony with the Iraqi Police and 12th Iraqi Army Division at Forward Operating Base Warrior on 14 February 2009.

Kirkuk had been the only Iraqi province that did not participate in the January 2009 provincial elections due to outstanding political disputes. The fate of the ethnically-diverse province, an unknown combination of primarily Kurdish, Arab, Turkmen and Assyrian ethnicities, had not yet been resolved. The mission of the Brigade was to reduce the tension among the northern Iraq Kurds and Arabs and to disrupt the very active insurgency that was limiting forward progress for Kirkuk.

The Black Jack Brigade partnered with Iraqi Police, the 12th Iraqi Army Division, and provincial and local civilian leadership to reduce violence by nearly 80 percent in one year. They also worked to significantly improved economic opportunities throughout the province by leveraging projects to create nearly 16,000 jobs in an area that was suffering from approximately 30 percent unemployment. They were replaced by the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division on 20 December 2009. By March 2010, Kirkuk participated in national elections for the first time since the invasion in 2003, with an approximately 79-percent voter participation and no reported acts of violence.

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