5th Brigade (Provisional), 1st Cavalry Division
The 5th Brigade (Provisional), 1st Cavalry Division exemplified complicated situation in which the US found itself in the immediate aftermath of the 2003 invasion of Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It also exemplified the great ingenuity with which the Army improvised solutions. It has been frequently observed that brigades and even battalions within the US Army are "task organized," which is to say that the unit in question is deployed with an assemblage of units or portions of units (often referred to as "slices") with which it does not have a peacetime association. Normally, however, the command element of the element is a headquarters company of a maneuver brigade or battalion, and the other units of the task force are all drawn from the same division. These units would also generally perform the functions for which they were organized, trained and equipped during peacetime.
5th Brigade (Provisional), 1st Cavalry Division violated all of these rules. The Brigade Combat Team took the nickname "Red Team" because the headquarters element was the Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery (DIVARTY), 1st Cavalry Division, itself known as the Red Team. The line battalions of the Brigade Combat Team were drawn from not only from the 1st Cavalry Divisions, but also from the United States Marine Corps. Along with Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, DIVARTY, 1st Cavalry Division, the unit included 1-7th Cavalry (-), 1-8th Cavalry, 1-21st Field Artillery, 2/24th Marines, and 515th Foward Support Battalion (Provisional). B Company, 8th Engineer Battalion was later assigned to the Brigade Combat Team, detached from the rest of its parent Battalion, which was supporting 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The 1-21st Field Artillery had been partially reequipped and reorganied in order to conduct various force protection duties along with the other units in the Brigade Combat Team.
The 1st Cavalry Division deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II in 2004, serving as Task Force Baghdad. While in Iraq, the DIVARTY Headquarters served as the headquarters element for the Division's 5th Brigade Combat Team, taking control of several battalions, which served as motorized task forces. The 1st Cavalry Division's 5th Brigade Combat Team assumed the mission of securing Baghdad's Al-Rashid District from the 1st Armored Division's Division Artillery (DIVARTY) Combat Team, a similarly organized provisional brigade combat team, at a transfer-of-authority ceremony on 6 April 2004. Colonel Stephen Lanza was the 5th Brigade Combat Team's commander. Since arriving in Iraq a year ago, the 1st Armored's DIVARTY Combat Team had completed a number of different missions. The DIVARTY Combat Team, including 1-94th Field Artillery and 1-4th Air Defense Artillery, led the force protection package at Baghdad International Airport. Later, the unit set up a counter-battery center to combat the mortar and rocket fire into the airport and 1st Armored Division's headquarters. In January 2004, they moved to Forward Operating Base Falcon (subsequently renamed Camp Ferrin-Huggins). The 1-1st Cavalry and Task Force 2-504th Parachute Infantry were later added to the DIVARTY Combat Team and assumed responsibility of the city's Al Rashid District.
Following its deployment, the 5th Brigade (Provisional), 1st Cavalry Division assisted the 304th Iraqi Civil Defense Corps (ICDC) Battalion with a recruiting drive. Charged with internal Iraqi homeland security, the ICDC was expected to eventually replace the Coalition forces that were providing security in Baghdad. The recruiting drive was part of 5th Brigade Combat Team's mission of training the ICDC to operate independently of the Coalition. While previous recruiting drives were organized and managed by 5th Brigade Soldiers, this time ICDC Soldiers ran the drive themselves. The 5th Brigade Soldiers fell back into an advisory role, to ensure no preferences were given to specific families, tribes or religions.
During the course of its deployment the 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division planned to help the people of Al Rashid solve their sewage problems. At a ground breaking ceremony to replace a faulty sewage pumping station in Al Rashid on 26 May 2004, Major General Peter Chiarelli, the 1st Cavalry Division commander, explained the plan for overhauling the District's neglected sewage system. With $40 million from the Coalition Provisional Authority approved for the project, Iraqi contractors would do most of the work with oversight from the 5th Brigade and an American contractor. Captain Matthew McCulley, the commander of Company B, 8th Engineer Battalion, explained that Al Rashid's sewage problem was largely a result of the District's trash problem. McCulley said "the biggest problem is just the trash getting into the system and people throwing trash in the manholes, causing the system to block up and backlog." To fix the broken system, 5th Brigade was working on projects to solve the area's lack of trash-collection facilities.
The 5th Brigade would contract local Iraqi companies to clean manholes, fix broken lines and get substations running at 100 percent capacity. In addition to fixing the existing system, the plan called for building new lines to areas that never had sewer service. In these areas, raw sewage had simply run from homes into open canals that ran through the center of town.
The Iraqi Intervention Force's (IIF) 2nd Battalion "Leopards" made history on 31 July 2004 at Camp Ferrin-Huggins in Baghdad, when the unit formally took responsibility for part of the 5th Brigade Combat Team's area of operations. This was the first time that an IIF unit had taken control of a sector. The 1st Cavalry Division's 5th Brigade Combat Team patrolled Baghdad's Al Rashid. 2nd Battalion, Iraqi Intervention Force took over responsibility for the area previously patrolled by C Company, 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment.
During the first joint cordon-and-search on 20 July 2004 of an area of in Baghdad referred to by American soldiers as "Cambodia," elements of the 5th Brigade (Provisional), 1st Cavalry Division netted 5 large caches of weapons and improvised explosive devices (IED) and 4 suspected anti-Iraqi fighters. Units from the 1st Cavalry Division's 5th Brigade Combat Team and the Iraqi National Guard (ING) launched the operation, the first major maneuver out of the Brigade's usual area of responsibility. Some of the most significant finds included a 500-pound air droppable bomb, a surface-to-air missile and 48 rocket-propelled grenades. A few smaller weapons and ammunition were also found. This mission was significant, because for the first time the Brigade had sent units out of their zone in a major operation to search for caches and insurgent cells. The area had been regarded for some time as a sanctuary for insurgents. The name "Cambodia" was applied in reference to how the North Vietnamese Army used Cambodia as a sanctuary during the Vietnam War.
As part of the 5th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, plan to improve agriculture in Al Rashid, members of the 1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment civil affairs team, presented farmers of Al Boetha with more than 68 tons of seed, fertilizer and other supplies at the Al Ahar School 4 August 2004. The seed delivery had started on 6 July 2004. The distribution was one of many to take over 2 weeks, just in time for the second planting season. The Brigade would distribute approximately 2,200 tons of these supplies among 80,000 family farms in Al Rashid. The agriculture project, which also included animal vaccinations that took place earlier that summer, cost $600,000. Company A, 489th Civil Affairs Battalion coordinated the supply distribution with the assistance of the 5th Brigade Combat Team's line battalions. The units worked hand in hand with the sheiks and neighborhood advisory councils to identify the power brokers for their areas. Having done that, they determined how many farmers there were and what they needed in each area. The seed distribution was a simple project, but agriculture affected around 85 percent of Al Rashid's population, so the impact was expected to be enormous. Since the seed distribution, mortar fire on Camp Ferrin-Huggins had reduced drastically. With these improvements, the 5th Brigade Combat Team agriculture team and civil affairs elements hoped to help out the people of Al Rashid starting at the lowest level possible.
After returning from its Operation Iraqi Freedom II deployment, the 5th Brigade (Provisional), 1st Cavalry Division was inactivated at Fort Hood, Texas on 26 May 2005. On 30 May 2005, the DIVARTY, 1st Cavalry Division, which had returned to its traditional role, was inactivated as part of the US Army's transformation towards a modular force.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|