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1st Infantry Division
1st Infantry Division (Mechanized)
"Big Red One" / "Duty First"

The 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) conducted a transfer of authority with the 24th Infantry Division on 1 August 2006, assuming command and control of Fort Riley. This represented its return to the United States after a decade stationed in Germany. The 24th Infantry Division was subsequently inactivated, and many of its units reflagged as units of the 1st Infantry Division. Also in 2006, the 1st Infantry Division began the transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure, gaining an additional maneuver brigade, as well as experiencing a reorganization of its support and aviation assets. As of 2009, the Division consisted of 4 maneuver brigade, a Combat Aviation Brigade, the 1st Sustainment Brigade, and the 1st Infantry Division Band. Many of the previous division level assets were incorporated into the special troops battalions and brigade support battalions of the modular brigades.

Prior to the modular reorganization, the 1st Infantry Division (-) was forward deployed as part of the United States Army Europe. It was composed of the Division Headquarters, 4 Brigades (one home Brigade), Division Artillery, and various support units. The Division Headquarters was located at Wuerzburg, Germany. The 1st Brigade (Maneuver) was the home Brigade and it was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. The 2nd Brigade (Maneuver) was stationed at Schweinfurt, Germany. The 3rd Brigade (Maneuver) was stationed at Vilseck, Germany. The 4th Brigade (Aviation) was stationed at Kitzigen, Germany. The Division Artillery was stationed at Bamberg, Germany. The 1st Infantry Division had many missions during the 1990s, which included deployments to Bosnia, Macedonia, and Kosovo.

The Division was headquartered at Leighton Barracks, Wuerzburg, Germany, on the banks of the Main River in the middle of the Unter Franken wine-growing region of northern Bavaria. The 1st Infantry Division, the "Big Red One," consisted of more than 14,000 soldiers who primarily served in one of the Division's 7 brigades (one of which is based at Fort Riley, Kansas), or one of its 4 separate battalions. The 1st Brigade, located at Fort Riley, consisted of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 34th Armor; 2nd Battalionn, 34th Armor; and 1st Battalion, 5th Field Artillery. The 101st Forward Support Battalion and 331st Signal Company were also located at Fort Riley. The 2nd Brigade was headquartered in Schweinfurt, Germany and consisted of the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry; 1st Battalion, 26th Infantry; and 1st Battalion, 77th Armor; all located in Schweinfurt. The 3rd Brigade was headquartered at Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany and consisted of the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry; 1st Battalion, 63rd Armor; and 2nd Battalion, 63rd Armor. The 4th Brigade (Aviation) was headquartered in Katterbach, Germany, and consisted of the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 1st Aviation, which supplied the Division's air assets.

The Division Artillery (DIVARTY) was headquartered in Bamberg, Germany, and consisted of 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery; 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery headquartered in Bamberg; and 1st Battalion, 7th Field Artillery, headquartered in Schweinfurt; 1st Battalion, and 5th Field Artillery headquartered at Fort Riley, Kansas. The DIVARTY soldiers provided target acquisition skills and multiple-launch rocket capabilities. The Division Support Command (DISCOM) was headquartered in Kitzingen, Germany, and was made up of 201st and 299th Forward Support Battalions; 601st Aviation Support Battalion, and 701st Main Support Battalion. The 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery was headquartered at Larson Barracks, Kitzingen, and was a separate battalion providing air defense capabilities. The 121st Signal Battalion was also headquartered at Larson Barracks and provided communication support throughout the Division. The 101st Military Intelligence Battalion was headquartered at Wuerzburg's Leighton Barracks and provided the Division with special information through secure channels. The 1st Military Police Company was also headquartered at Leighton Barracks in Wuerzburg and performs law enforcement and security duties throughout the Division.

The 1st Infantry Division was the oldest continuously serving division in the United States Army. The Big Red One had many roles that helped shape the country's history. The 1st Infantry Division was first constituted into the US Army as Headquarters, First Expeditionary Division, on 24 May 1917. It was organized in May 1917 from Army units then in service on the Mexican border and at various Army posts throughout the United States. It was officially organized on 8 June 1917, under the command of Brigadier General William L. Sibert. The first units sailed for France from New York City, New York and Hoboken, New Jersey, on 14 June 1917.

Upon arrival in France, the Division, less its artillery, was assembled in the First (Gondrecourt) training area, and the artillery was at Le Valdahon. On the 4 July 1917, the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, paraded through the streets of Paris to bolster the sagging French spirits. At Lafayette's tomb, one of General Pershing's staff uttered the famous words, "Lafayette, we are here!" Two days later, on 6 July 1917, the First Expeditionary Division was redesignated as the 1st Infantry Division. On the morning of 23 October 1917, the first American shell of the war was sent screaming toward German lines by a 1st Infantry Division artillery unit. Two days later, the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry, suffered the first American casualties of the war. The last major World War I battle was fought in the Meuse-Argonne Forest. The Division advanced 7 kilometers and defeated, in whole or part, 8 German divisions. The war was over when the Armistice was signed. The Division was at Sedan, the farthest American penetration of the war. The Division was the first to cross the Rhine into occupied Germany. By the end of the war, the Division had suffered 22,668 casualties and boasted 5 Medals of Honor winners.

The 1st Infantry Division entered World War II at Oran, North Africa, as part of the Operation Torch, the first American campaign against Germany. On 8 November 1942, following training in the United Kingdom, men of the 1st Infantry Division landed on the coast of Algeria near Oran. The initial lessons of combat were harsh and many men were casualties in the following campaign in Tunisia. On 9 May 1943, the commander of the German Afrika Korps surrendered his force of 40,000.

The Division then moved on to take Sicily as part of Operation Husky. The 1st Infantry Division stormed ashore at Gela on 10 July 1943, and quickly overpowered the preliminary Italian defenses. On D-Day, 6 June 1944, the Big Red One stormed ashore at Omaha Beach. Soon after H-Hour, the Division's 16th Regiment was fighting for its life on a strip of beach near Coleville-sur-Mer. The beach was so congested with the dead and dying, there was no room to land reinforcements. Colonel George Taylor, commander of the 16th Infantry Regiment, told his men, "Two kinds of people are staying on this beach! The dead and those who are going to die! Now, let's get the hell out of here!" Slowly, the move inland got underway.

The 1st Infantry Division continued its push into Germany, crossing the Rhine River. On 16 December 1944, 24 enemy divisions, 10 of which were armored, launched a massive counterattack in the Ardennes sector, resulting in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. On 15 January 1945, the 1st Infantry Division attacked and penetrated the Siegfried line for the second time and occupied the Remagen bridgehead. On Easter Sunday, 1 April 1945, the Division marched 150 miles to the east of Siegen. On 8 April 1945, the Division crossed the Weser river into Czechoslovakia. The war was over in Europe on 8 May 1945. At the end of World War II, the Division had suffered 21,023 casualties and 43,743 men had served in its ranks. Its soldiers had won a total of 20,752 medals and awards, including 16 Congressional Medals of Honor. Over 100,000 prisoners had been taken. Following the war, the 1st Infantry Division remained in Germany as occupation troops, until 1955, when the Division moved to Fort Riley, Kansas.

In 1965 deployed to Vietnam. The first unit to go from the Big Red One was the 2nd Brigade. Advanced parties landed at Qui Nhon on 23 June 1965. For nearly 5 years, the 1st Infantry Division soldiers battled against an aggressive enemy. The enemy made expert use of the dense jungles and inaccessible countryside. The use of helicopters was one of the best means of countering the jungle and the lack of roads. The experience gained in resupply operations, medical evacuation and the tactics of the air mobile assault was used in developing basic doctrine in these areas. The 1st Infantry Division returned to Fort Riley in April 1970. Over 3,000 soldiers of the Big Red One died in action. Eleven Medals of Honor winners were added to the rolls.

On 2 August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. This act precipitated US military involvement in the Persian Gulf. The 1st Infantry Division was put on alert for deployment on 8 November 1990. The Division deployed over 12,000 soldiers and 7,000 pieces of equipment to Saudi Arabia over the next 2 months. On the morning of 24 Februrary 1991, under Major General Thomas G. Rhame, the Big Red One spearheaded the armored attack into Iraq, leading the way for the VII Corps. The Division smashed into the Iraqi 26th Infantry Division by breaking through the enemy lines and taking over 2,500 prisoners. At 8 AM on 28 February 1991, the war was over when a cease-fire was called. The Big Red One had fought through 260 kilometers of enemy-held territory in 100 hours, destroying 550 enemy tanks, 480 armored, personnel carriers and taking 11,400 prisoners. Eighteen of the Divisions soldiers were killed in the war.

Three Army divisions were reflagged as the Army restructured from 12 to 10 active divisions. The 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, Texas, was redesignated as the 4th Infantry Division, and the 24th Infantry Division was redesignated as the 3rd Infantry Division. The 3rd Infantry Division, stationed in Germany, was redesignated as the 1st Infantry Division. The redesignations occured during FY96. The Army's restructuring plan was announced in December 1994. It called for the inactivation of the headquarters and division support units of the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kansas, and the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. The redesignation plan ensured that 2 of the Army's most famous and decorated divisions would remain in the active force. The plan designating the divisions to remain was developed by the US Army Center of Military History, which maintained records of Army unit lineage and honors. The center prepared an order-of-precedence list based on unit age, campaign participation, and awards and decorations. Units were then rank-ordered by category, providing a framework for the Army leadership to make its decision.

1st Infantry Division after moving to Germany played a key role in Bosnia. The 1st Infantry Division assumed authority for command and control of Task Force Eagle in a transfer of authority ceremony on Eagle Base on 10 November 1996. The Division's mission was to provide a covering force for the 1st Armored Division units returning to Germany, and to continue to implement the military aspects of the General Framework Agreement for Peace. The 1st Infantry Division continued to support the Dayton Peace Accord through the transition from the Implementation Force (IFOR) to the Stabilization Force (SFOR), in December 1996. The division drew together with National Guard and Reserve soldiers, members of the Navy, Air Force and Marines, and the soldiers from 12 nations in the area known as Multi-National Division North (MND(N)).

By mid-October 2002 the 1st Infantry Division's parent command, the Heidelberg, Germany-based V Corps headquarters, was on its way to Kuwait along with a battalion of Apache helicopters and a corps-level Marine command post. The 1st Infantry Division faced 6 months of retraining before the first units would be available for combat deployment against Iraq. The Division's 2nd Brigade task force was wrapping up a 6-month tour of duty in Kosovo, and the Division's 3rd Brigade was preparing to relieve these soldiers in November 2002 for their own half-year tour. A key part of the Brigade, the Division's 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, was given last-minute orders to remain in Germany. For 1st Infantry Division soldiers to take part in an Iraqi attack, the incoming 3rd Brigade would have to get a last-minute re-tasking for combat duty, or the outgoing 2nd Brigade would have to be put through a crash retraining program.

The Army model coming off one of these peacekeeping missions was usually about a 6-month cycle. For a heavy unit, that gave sufficient time to go through preliminary gunnery training, then to Grafenwöhr for a 45-day window, which took the troops from the very elementary gunnery tables to company-level live fires. Once the soldiers completed the battalion- and brigade-level maneuver training at Hohenfels in the spring of 2003, that process would be completed. The last time 1st Infantry Division deployed to the Balkans, leaders reported "C-4" unfit-for-combat ratings upon their return, because the peacekeeping operations dulled soldiers' war-fighting skills.

On 30 January 2003, Stars and Stripes confirmed that elements of 1st Infantry Division had received orders to deploy to Turkey in support of a war with Iraq. Roughly 1,800 soldiers were initially deployed, including troops from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company of the Division, the 101st Military Intelligence Battalion, the 121st Signal Battalion, the 701st Main Support Battalion and the 601st Aviation Support Battalion. Stars and Stripes also reported that the 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment would also deploy.

The Department of Defense announced on 29 July 2005 plans for the return of 11 Army bases to Germany in FY07. Additionally, 2 other bases were identified for return to Germany in following years. These installation returns were scheduled as part of plans for the 1st Infantry Division headquarters' return to the United States with its divisional flag in the summer of 2006. Additionally, the 1st Infantry Division's subordinate units, as well as selected V Corps and US Army in Europe units, return to the United States, inactivate entirely, convert, or be reassigned in Europe to support Army transformation in fiscal year 2006.

The 1st Infantry Division units that were to return or inactivate in FY06 were:

  • Headquarters, Headquarters Company, 1st Infantry Division (returns)
  • Headquarters, Headquarters Battery, Division Artillery (inactivates)
  • Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Division Engineer (inactivates)
  • 510th Engineer Detachment (Topographical) (inactivates)
  • 517th Engineer Detachment (Topographical) (inactivates)
  • Headquarters, Headquarters Company, Division Support Command (DISCOM ) (returns)
  • 701st Main Support Battalion (inactivates)
  • 1-1st Aviation Battalion (Attack) (returns for Longbow transition in November)
  • 101st Military Intelligence Battalion (-) (inactivates)
  • 121st Signal Battalion (-) (inactivates)
  • 1st MP Company (-) (inactivates)
  • 1st ID Band (returns)

1st ID units that were to be converted in FY06 were:

  • 1-4 Cavalry Squadron (-) -- Converts to become the Reconnaissance, Surveillance and Target Acquisition squadron of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
  • 1st ID Division Aviation Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company -- Reflagged as the 12th Aviation Brigade and converts to become part of USAREUR Multi-functional Aviation Brigade (MFAB).
  • 2-1st Aviation Battalion -- Reflagged as the 5-158th Aviation Battalion and converts to become part of USAREUR Multi-functional Aviation Brigade (MFAB).
  • 601st Division Aviation Support Battalion -- Converts to become part of USAREUR Multi-functional Aviation Brigade (MFAB).
  • 82nd Engineer Battalion (-) -- Becomes the Brigade Troops Battalion for the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.
  • 1-33rd Field Artillery Battalion -- Becomes the Fires Battalion of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team.

Other changes included the 12th Chemical Company and BIDS platoons (Kitzingen) being retained and moved to Grafenwoehr. This unit became the only organic chemical unit in V Corps. 4-3rd Air Defense Artillery was to be inactivated in FY05. As of June 2006, only the 4th Brigade Combat Team, which stood up Jan. 16, 2005, had undergone the modular transformation.

As part of the BRAC changes, the 1st Infantry Division cased its colors in Germany on 7 July 2006. The 1st Infantry Division subsequnetly conducted a transfer of authority with the 24th Infantry Division on 1 August 2006, assuming command and control of Fort Riley, Kansas. The 24th Infantry Division subsequently inactivated. The Division's Combat Aviation Brigade also uncased its colors on 1 August 2006.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team deployed from Germany in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006. Due to changes in the war strategy, 1st Brigade assumed 2 new missions for the Army in 2006. The first of these missions was supporting the Army's Transition Team training mission where Brigade Soldiers train thousands of service members from across the Army, Air Force and Navy to become Iraqi and Afghan military advisors. The second mission was to provide deployable security force elements that could move anywhere the Army wants them to be. Approximately 2,000 Soldiers from the brigade deployed fall 2006 as SECFOR companies.

The 1st Infantry Division's Combat Aviation Brigade and the 1st Sustainment Brigade were on orders to deploy in 2007 in support of the Global War on Terrorism. The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed from Fort Riley to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2007. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division uncased its colors at Fort Hood, Texas, in April 2007, following a return from operations in support of the Global War on Terror. It subsequently began transformation to the US Army's new modular force structure. The 2nd Brigade had also conducted the transformation following its return from operations and its move to Fort Riley, Kansas. As of 2008, only the 1st Brigade had yet to convert to the modular force structure.

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