Special Troops Basttalion
2nd Brigade Combat Team
Historical Missions
"Perseverance Through Strength and Courage"

The Early Years, 1917 - 1941

The history of the 2nd (Blackjack) Brigade can be traced back to 29 August 1917, when it was constituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters, 2nd Cavalry Brigade. On 27 December 1917, it was organized and assigned to the 15th Cavalry Division at Ft. Bliss, Texas. The Brigade's first service was largely a saga of rough riding, patrolling the Mexican border and constant training. Operating from horseback, the cavalry was the only force capable of piercing the harsh terrain of the desert to halt the band of smugglers that operated along the desolate Mexican border. With the entry of the Unites States into World War I, the Brigade's wartime service was restricted to the continued patrolling of the Mexican Border, until 12 May 1918, when it was relieved from the 15th Cavalry Division and demobilized on 09 July 1919, at Ft. Bliss, Texas.

On 20 August 1921, the Brigade became a member of the 1st Cavalry Division as the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Cavalry Brigade. At that time, subordinate units consisted of the 2nd Machine Gun Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment and 8th Cavalry Regiment.

In 1923, the 1st Cavalry Division assembled to stage its first divisional maneuvers since WWI at Camp Marfa, Texas. The line of march was Fabens, Ft. Hancock, Sierra Blanca, Hot Wells, Lobo Flats and Valentine. The wagon trains, all drawn by four mules (no motorized vehicles yet), were endless. Over the next four years, elements of the division were stationed at Camp Marfa, Ft. Bliss and Ft. Clark, which were all in Texas.

The entire Army was expanding and acquiring new equipment. Faster and lighter medium tanks were assigned to both, cavalry and infantry units. There was also a new urgency for readiness being expressed by Washington. Japan, which had invaded Manchuria in 1931, continued to expand conquests into China and Nazi Germany had annexed Austria and was threatening to seize Czechoslovakia.

In 1938, against the background of international tensions, the 1st Cavalry Division staged its second divisional maneuvers in the mountains near Balmorhea, Texas. The staging of the third divisional maneuvers was made even more memorable and intense by their timing. The starting of the maneuvers, 01 September 1939, coincided with the invasion of Poland by Germany, who used the most modern and deadly military force of its time. With the surprise of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 07 December 1941, troopers outfitted their horses and readied their weapons and vehicles in anticipation of the fight against the Axis.

World War II, Pacific Theater, 1941 - 1945

In February 1943, the entire 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for an overseas assignment as a dismounted unit. An impatient 1st Cavalry Division was dismounted and they were processed for movement to the Southwest Pacific theater as foot solders. In mid June 1943, the last troops of the division departed Ft. Bliss, Texas for Camp Stoneman, California and later on 03 July, boarded the "S.S. Monterey and the S.S. George Washington" for Australia and the Southwest Pacific.

On 26 July, three weeks later, the division arrived at Brisbane and began a fifteen mile trip to their new temporary home, Camp Strathpine, Queensland, Australia. The division received six months of intense combat jungle warfare training at Camp Strathpine in the wilds of scenic Queensland and amphibious training at nearby Moreton Bay. In January 1944 the division was ordered to leave Australia and sail to Oro Bay, New Guinea. After a period of staging in New Guinea, it was time for the 1st Cavalry Division to receive their first baptism of fire.

Island Combat
On 27 February, Task Force "Brewer", consisting of 1,026 troopers, embarked from Cape Sudest, Oro Bay, New Guinea under the command of Brigadier General William C. Chase. Their destination was a remote, Japanese occupied island of the Admiralties, Los Negros, where they were to make a reconnaissance of force and if feasible, capture Momote Airdrome and secure a beachhead for the reinforcements that would follow.

Just after 0800 hours on 29 February, the 1st Cavalry troopers climbed down the nets of the APD's and into the LCM's and LCPR's, the flat bottomed landing craft of the Navy. The landing at Hayane Harbor took the Japanese by surprise. Following the assault on Los Negros, the Brigade left footprints on Bismarck Archipelago and the Philippines.

On 13 August 1945, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted that they were selected to accompany General Douglas MacArthur to Tokyo and would be part of the 8th Army in the occupation of Japan. On 02 September the long convey of ships steered into Yokohama Harbor and past the battleship Missouri where General MacArthur would later receive the Japanese surrender party.

Troopship Cecil - Yokohama, Japan
The First Team was given the honor of leading the Allied Occupational Army into Tokyo. At 8:00 on 08 September, a history making convey left Hara-Machida with Tokyo as their destination. Headed by Major General William C. Chase, commanding general of the 1st Cavalry Division, the party included a veteran from each troop of the division. Passing through Hachioji, Fuchu and Chofu, the Cavalry halted briefly at the Tokyo City Limits. General Chase stepped across the line thereby putting the American Occupational Army officially in Tokyo and adding another "First" to its name;

"First in Tokyo".

The first mission of the division was to assume control of the city. On 16 September, the 1st Cavalry Division was given responsibility for occupying the entire city of Tokyo and the adjacent parts of Tokyo and Saitama Prefectures. 1946 was welcomed as a new dawning of peace for the 1st Cavalry Division. The days of privation, hardship, suffering and death were over for the first time since 07 December 1940. They year found the 1st Cavalry Division in control of Tokyo and vicinity, the capital of the war-built Japanese Empire. On 01 March, the 1st Cavalry Division was given the occupational responsibility of seven prefectures of Japan, in addition to the four occupied during the previous months.

The 1st Cavalry Division began 1947 with the continuation of its occupation of the heart and nerve center of the Japanese Empire. Although there was no change in occupational policy, there had been vast changes among the troopers themselves. The combat veterans of the division had been replaced by new arrivals from the states. Their time was spent in receiving advanced training, guard duty, patrolling and specialist assignments.

As the new year of 1948 opened, the influence of the occupation was everywhere. Japan had been converted into a peaceful nation with a framework of government under its new constitution that would make it a lasting democracy. Reduction of troops continued throughout the year.

On 25 March 1949, the 2nd Brigade was inactivated and relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division. On 20 May 1949; The 2nd Brigade was converted and redesignated as Headquarters, 2nd Constabulary Brigade, assigned to the United States Constabulary in post World War II, and activated in Germany. On 24 November 1950; the Brigade was relieved from assignment to the United States Constabulary. On 15 December 1951 the Brigade was inactivated in Germany.

Return To Korea, 1957 - 1965

On 15 July 1963, the Brigade was reconstituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division and 01 September 1963, was activated in Korea. The 2nd Brigade was stationed, along with the rest of the 1st Cavalry Division, at the facilities of the former 24th Infantry Division who were stationed at a Headquarters Compound located in the western defense corridor located at Bong il Chong in the Paju City area. The 2nd Brigade and the 1st Cavalry Division remained headquartered at Camp Howze until it went home on 01 July 1965.

Vietnam War, 1965 - 1972

Air Cavalry Unit
The 1st Cavalry Division went home in 1965, but only long enough to be reorganized and be prepared for a new mission. On 03 July 1965, in Doughboy Stadium at Ft. Benning, Georgia the colors of the 11th Air Assault Division (Test) were cased and retired. As the band played the rousing strains of GarryOwen, the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division were moved onto the field. Within 90 days of becoming the Army's first air mobile division, the First Team was back in combat as the first fully committed division of the Vietnam War. An advance party, on board C-124s and C-130s, arrived at Nha Trang between the 19th and 27th of August 1965. They joined with advance liaison forces and established a temporary base camp near An Khe, 36 miles inland from the costal city of Qui Nhon.

In September, the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division debarked from the troop ship USNS Buckner and marched ashore at the city of Qui Nhon, Republic of Vietnam. The brigade consisted of three airborne infantry battalions, the 1st and 2nd Battalions, 5th Cavalry and 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry. The brigade loaded quickly into helicopters and moved inland to the main base camp of the division at An Khe. In the Oriental calendar year of the "Horse", the airborne soldiers had returned to war wearing the famous and feared patch of the First Cavalry Division. The "First Team" had entered its third war - and the longest tour of duty in combat history.

The newly arrived Skytroopers of the 2nd (Blackhorse) Brigade wasted little time in getting into action. From 18 - 20 September, to troopers of the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry and the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry supported the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division in "Operation Gibraltar". The operation took place 17 miles northeast of An Khe in the Vinh Thanh Valley; known as "Happy Valley" by the troops. "B" Battery of the 1st Battalion, 77th Artillery provided supporting fire.

Operation SILVER BAYONETE, also known as the Pleiku campaign, was a 35 day campaign in which the division maintained almost constant contact with the enemy and experienced some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. The division saw its first contact on 01 November 1965, when a troop from 1-9 Cavalry, the Reconnaissance Squadron of the Division , overran an enemy aid station belonging to the 33rd North Vietnamese Army (NVA) regiment. After landing to exploit the site, they were engaged by a battalion sized element of enemy, in fighting which was too close to allow for artillery or tactical air reinforcement. 1-12 Cavalry, 2-8 Cavalry, and 2nd Brigade’s 2-12 Cavalry rushed to the embattled troop’s aid, air assaulting into the fight amidst intense ground fire. They quickly decimated the NVA battalion and inflicted hundreds of enemy casualties.

On 09 November 1975 3rd Brigade took control of Operation SILVER BAYONETE and continued the search for the three enemy regiments suspected to be operating in the Pleiku region. On 14 November elements of the 7th Cavalry Regiment from the 3rd Brigade, air assaulted onto landing zone X-Ray in the Ia Drang Valley to conduct a reconnaissance in force in search of the enemy regiments. Soon after securing the LZ, the 7th Cavalry Soldiers began taking intense small arms, mortar, and rocket fire from an enemy force that vastly outnumbered them. The chaotic fighting that followed would be among the most intense of the Vietnam War. After sustaining heavy casualties, 1-7 Cavalry was able to reorganize their units and establish a hasty battalion security perimeter around LZ X-Ray. One of their platoons, however, was cut off from the rest of the battalion, pinned down and trapped amidst a battalion sized enemy force. The pinned unit, 2nd Platoon of Bravo Company, had suffered heavy casualties, and like the rest of 1-7, would endure multiple enemy attacks throughout the night. 1-7 Cavalry made three separate attempts to rescue the cut off platoon, but all three attempts were met with failure. It was in these dire circumstances that 5th Cavalry Regiment, of the 2nd Brigade, would be called in to help turn the tide of the battle.

Early on 15 November, the 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment air assaulted onto LZ Victor, approximately 3km south east of the battle. On foot, they fought their way to LZ X-Ray, where after coordinating with 1-7 Cavalry, they pressed forward in search of the lost platoon. The 2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment rescued the platoon, which had been devastated with casualties, and enabled their recovery back to LZ X-Ray. 2nd Brigade’s 2-5 Cavalry and elements of 1-5 Cavalry tied into the defense perimeter at LZ X-Ray and played a vital role in repelling and counter-attacking the enemy force over the next two days.

On 16 November, the battle at LZ X-Ray was effectively over. The enemy had taken thousands of casualties and was no longer capable of sustaining a fight. 1-7 Cavalry returned to Camp Halloway while 2-5 Cavalry, 2-7 Cavalry, and a company from 1-5 Cavalry maintained the perimeter at X-Ray. On the following day, all of the remaining units were ordered off of LZ X-Ray in preparation for a heavy bombing campaign in the area. The 2-5 Cavalry, of the 2nd Brigade, marched without incident to LZ Columbus. 2-7 Cavalry, with a company of 1-5 Cavalry, of the 2nd Brigade, attached, marched to LZ Albany, where they were destined to see fighting every bit as fierce as that encountered at LZ X-Ray just days before.

2-7 Cavalry marched towards LZ Albany in a column, with "A" Company 1-5 Cavalry bringing up the rear. Almost immediately after reaching the LZ, the head of the 2-7 Cavalry column was engaged by a massive L-shaped ambush staged by two battalions of enemy fighters. The ensuing close-quarters battle was fierce and bloody, with both sides taking devastating casualties. After the initial chaos subsided, hasty security perimeters were formed, with 2-7 Cavalry hunkered down on LZ Albany, while "A" Company 1-5 Cavalry set a small perimeter 700 meters away. The situation was dire for the Soldiers at LZ Albany. They were low on ammunition and water, and the intense fire and close proximity of the enemy disrupted resupply and casualty evacuation efforts, as well as indirect fire and air support.

Immediately "B" Company 1-5 Cavalry, 2nd Brigade, rushed to the aid of the Soldiers at LZ Albany, landing at LZ Columbus and deploying to the battle on foot, They fought their way to the "A" Company, 1-5 Cavalry perimeter and established, secured an LZ from which resupply and evacuation efforts could finally proceed. 2nd Brigade’s men continued to repulse enemy attacks throughout the night. On the morning of 18 November 1965, after 16 hours of continuous contact, the enemy force, devastated with casualties, finally withdrew.

The firefights at LZ X-Ray and LZ Albany would come to be known as the Battle of Ia Drang. It was a battle marked by both great sacrifice and triumph for the Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division. While sustaining heavy casualties, the 2nd and 3rd Brigades dealt a striking blow to the enemy, killing more than 3500 enemy fighters and destroying two full regiments of a North Vietnamese division. For its actions during Operation SILVER BAYONETE, the 1st Cavalry Division earned the first Presidential Unit Citation awarded to a unit in Vietnam.

More savage fighting erupted about a week before the campaign ended. The second Battalion, 7th Cavalry was ordered to move toward a location named "Albany". Encountering a NVA battalion from the 66th Regiment in the dense jungle they slugged it out in grim determination. The 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry surged into the battle and the vietnamese decided to cut their losses and run. When the Pleiku Campaign ended on 25 November, troopers of the First Team had killed 3,561 North Vietnamese soldiers and captured 157 more. The troopers destroyed two of three regiments of a North Vietnamese Division, earning the first Presidential Unit Citation given to a division in Vietnam. The enemy had been given their first major defeat and their carefully laid plans for conquest had been torn apart.

Interrogating VC Prisoner
25 January 1966, began "Masher/White Wing" which were code names for the missions in Binh Dinh Province. On 19 - 21 February, one of the main actions occurred in an area known as the "Iron Triangle", an elaborate, well fortified defensive position 12 miles south of Bong Son. During the interrogation of a prisoner, he revealed the location of the NVA 22nd Regimental Headquarters. Elements of the 2nd Brigade advanced into the area and were met by fierce resistance. Units from the NVA 22nd Regiment attempted to reinforce the their headquarters, but they were cut down in the crossfire of two companies of the 1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry. For the next three days the area was saturated with artillery fire and B-52 strikes. The mission ended 06 March 1966. with the enemy losing its grip on the Binh Dinh Province, however its name would be heard again and again during the next six years.

The need for rice by the famished Viet Cong was the catalyst for Operation Paul Revere II which commenced on 02 August 1966. Hill 534, on the southern portion of Chu Pong Massif near the Cambodian Border, was the location of the final battle of Operation Paul Revere II. It began on 14 August, after Company "A", 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry suddenly ran into a North Vietnamese battalion and Company "B", 2nd Battalion began slugging it out with enemy troops in bunkers. A total of two battalions of Skytroopers were committed to the fight. When it ended the next morning, 138 NVA bodies were counted.

On 31 October, Paul Revere IV was launched by the 2nd Brigade. Its units included; 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry; 2nd Battalion, 12 Cavalry; Company "B". 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry and the 1st Battalion, 77th Artillery. The operation called for extensive search and destroy in the areas of Chu Pong and the Ia Drang Valley, as well as along the Cambodian Border. With only one exception only light contact with the enemy was achieved. In mid-morning of 21 November, Company "C", 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry was searching south of Duc Co along the border. Suddenly the 2nd Platoon began trading fire with a NVA force of significant size. The 3rd Platoon went to the aid of the 2nd Platoon. The two units, outnumbered by large numbers of North Vietnamese, fought desperately. The 3rd Platoon was overrun in fairly short order with only one man surviving - it happened before they were able to call in any effective artillery or air support. The 2nd Platoon took over 50% casualties but was not overrun - they had 13 or 14 KIA and about as many wounded.

Following Operation PAUL REVERE IV, 2nd Brigade engaged in Operation THAYER II, a search and destroy campaign in the Binh Dinh Province. When the campaign concluded in early 1967, the 1st Cavalry Division had destroyed two enemy regiments and inflicted more than 1500 enemy casualties.

As was typical in the early days of the Vietnam war, many of their M-16s had malfunctioned early in the fight. With the dense foliage, neither artillery nor helicopter gunships were very effective in providing support. The remnants of 2nd Platoon was saved by the arrival of a flight of Skyraiders equipped with napalm. They were accurate enough to put the canisters right on the attacking NVA. The 1st Platoon arrived a few minutes after the airstrike and linked up with 2nd Platoon. Except for a few stray rounds from the departing NVA, the battle was over. The foliage was too thick to cut an LZ and the wounded were lifted out one by one by hueys equipped with winches. The KIA's were placed in a cargo net and was lifted out by a Chinook. "A" Company located the ambush site of 3rd Platoon and medevaced the one survivor. The 101 "C" Regiment of the 10th NVA Division paid a very high price for its victory. It lost nearly 150 of their men. On 27 December, Operation Paul Revere IV was closed out and 2nd Brigade troopers added their strength to Operation Thayer II.

Exploring VC Cave Networks
As 1967 dawned, the 1st Brigade began making new contacts with the enemy units in central an southern Kim Son Valley, while the 2nd Brigade began a sweep to the north, flushing the enemy from their position in the north end of the valley as well as the Crescent Area, the Nui Mieu and Cay Giep Mountains.

On 04 January 1967, 2nd Brigade participated in Operation MATADOR. Along with 1st Brigade, they air assaulted within the Binh Dinh Province to conduct a search and destroy mission against the Vietnamese Yellow Star Division. During this operation the units witnessed enemy soldiers fleeing into Cambodia, confirming for the first time the enemy’s use to sanctuaries in the neighboring country.

On 27 January heavy fighting with the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry launching an air assault in the midst of an NVA battalion northeast of Bon Son. In Thayer II, the enemy once again had suffered punishing losses of 1,757 men.

On 07 February 1967, 2nd Brigade took part in Operation WHITE WING, conducting a search and destroy mission targeting the Yellow Star Division. All three regiments of the 2nd Brigade deployed to the Iron Triangle, a well fortified defensive position thought to be the regimental headquarters of the enemy in the Binh Dinh region. On 6 March 1967 Operation WHITE WING concluded as a major tactical success. 2nd Brigade maintained constant contact with the enemy over the entirety of the operation. Five of the nine battalions, of the Vietnam Yellow Star Division, were rendered combat ineffective and the NVA temporarily lost its grip on the Binh Dinh Province.

On 13 February 1967, Operation Pershing began in a territory which was familiar to many skytroopers, the Bong Son Plain in northern Binh Dinh Province. For the first time, the First Cavalry Division committed all three of its brigades to the same battle area.


Tet Offensive Theater

On 16 May 1967, 2nd Brigade took part in Operation CRAZY HORSE, a search and destroy mission against the 2nd Viet Cong Regiment in the jungle covered hills between Soui Ca and the Vinh Thanh Valleys Moving to I Corps, Vietnam's northern most tactical zone, the division set up Camp Evans for their base camp. On January 31 1968, amid the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year, the enemy launched the Tet Offensive, a major effort to overrun South Vietnam. Some 7,000 enemy, well equipped, crack NVA regulars blasted their way into the imperial city of Hue, overpowering all but a few pockets of resistance held by ARVN troops and the US Marines. Within 24 hours, the invaders were joined by 7,000 NVA reinforcements. Almost simultaneously to the North of Hue, five battalions of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong attacked Quang Tri City, the capital of Vietnam's northern province.

Four companies of skytroopers from the 1st Battalions of the 5th and 12th Cavalry Regiments quickly arrived at hot LZs around the Thon An Thai Valley, just east of Quang Tri. The troopers knocked out the heavy weapons support of the NVA and squeezed the enemy from the rear. The enemy soon broke off the Quang Tri attack and split into small groups in an attempt to escape.

In April of 1967, while in support of Operation PERSHING, the 2nd Brigade conducted Operation LEJEUNE in the Marine-controlled Quang Ngai region. The operation was conducted to free up Marines in the Quang Ngai area of operations and facilitate their movement further north. It was almost immediately apparent that the enemy in the Quang Ngai region was not prepared for the challenges posed by a brigade of air cavalry troopers. The enemy dispersed and hid, and only little and sporadic contact was initiated until 16 April 1967.

Operation LEJEUNE concluded successfully on 22 April 1967, and the 2nd Brigade returned to the Binh Dinh Province to continue rooting out the deeply entrenched enemy forces there.

On 21 January 1968, Operation PERSHING was concluded. In 11 months of fighting the division engaged in 18 major battles and numerous minor skirmishes, inflicting over 7000 enemy casualties. On 22 January 1968, the 1st Cavalry Division relocated to the Quang Tri region to participate in Operation JEB STUART. As a result of the division’s relocation for Operation JEB STUART, it was in excellent position to respond to the Tet Offensive.

On 31 January 1968, in what would come to be known as the Tet Offensive, the enemy conducted a widespread and well-coordinated assault into Southern Vietnam. Thousands of enemy fighters overran the Imperial City of Hue, while five battalions of enemy attacked Quang Tri City. The 1-5 Cavalry of the 2nd Brigade, alongside the 1-12 Cavalry, quickly responded and moved into the village of Thon an Thai, just east of Quang Tri City. They launched a heavy aerial rocket attack against the enemy fighters, forcing them to break off the Quang Tri attack and disperse. Quang Tri City was liberated within the next ten day days. the 2-12 Cavalry of the 2nd Brigade , alongside elements from the Marines and the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, were tasked with liberating the city of Hue. 2nd Brigade again suffered heavy casualties, but in fierce block-by-block fighting, succeeded in liberating the city by the end of February. During the battle for Hue, the enemy was dealt more than 8000 casualties.

While the 1st Cavalry Division was repelling the Tet Offensive, the 26th Marine Regiment was taking heavy bombardment and ground attacks in the Khe Sanh region of Vietnam. On 1 April 1968, the 2nd Brigade, alongside other 1st Cavalry Division elements, conducted Operation PEGASUS in order to relieve the Marines at Khe Sanh. The 1st Cavalry Division completed to the relief of the Marine units on April 10th and assumed responsibility for the Khe Sanh area of operations. When Operation PEGASUS was concluded several days later, more than 1200 enemy fighters had been killed.

On 27 June 1968, 2nd Brigade took the lead in Operation JEB STUART III, a search and destroy mission in the Quan Tri Province. They decimated an enemy infantry battalion at the village of Binah An, inflicting an estimated 200 casualties.

In late 1968, the Division moved and set up operations in III Corps at the other end of South Vietnam. In late 1968, and the beginning of 1969, found the 1st Cavalry Division and the ARVN forces engaged in Operation Toan Thang II. In the first three weeks of fighting, skytroopers killed nearly 200 enemy troops and uncovered one of the largest caches of munitions found in the Vietnam War. Also in January, Air Cavalry Troopers briefly became known as "Nav Cav" as they boarded river boats and helped patrol the Vam Co Dong River and Bo Bo Canal network. In February 1969, Operation Cheyenne Sabre began in areas northeast of Bien Hoa. The year 1969 ended in a high note for the 1st Cavalry Division. The enemy's domination of the northern areas of III Corps had been smashed - thoroughly.

Air Insertion Operation

On 1 May 1970, the First Cavalry Division conducted a search and destroy mission in the Fish Hook region of Cambodia, in what had previously been an untouched enemy stronghold. President Nixon has given the go-ahead for the surprise mission.<>/P>

Pushing into the "Fish Hook" region of the border and occupying the towns of Mimot and Snoul, troopers scattered the enemy forces, depriving them of much needed supplies and ammunition. On 08 May, the troopers of the 2nd Brigade found an enemy munitions base that they dubbed "Rock Island East".

Rock Island East, a munitions dump where they secured more than 6.5 million anti-aircraft rounds, 500,000 rifle rounds, and thousands of rockets. The operation was a dramatic success, and when it concluded on 30 June, the enemy had taken enough casualties to field three divisions.

Ending on 30 June, the mission to Cambodia far exceeded all expectations and proved to be one of the most successful operations of the First Team. All aspects of ground and air combat had been utilized. The enemy had lost enough men to field three NVA divisions and enough weapons to equip two divisions. A years supply of rice and corn had been seized. The troopers and the ARVN soldiers had found uncommonly large quantities of ammunition, including 1.5 millions rounds for small arms, 200,000 antiaircraft rounds and 143,000 rockets, mortar rounds and recoilless rifle rounds. The sweeps turned up 300 trucks, a Porsche sports car and a plush Mercedes-Benz sedan.

The campaign had severe political repercussions in the United States for the Nixon Administration. Pressure was mounting to remove America's fighting men from the Vietnam War. Although there would be further assault operations, the war was beginning to wind down for many troopers.

Although 26 March 1971 officially marked the end of duties in Vietnam for the 1st Cavalry Division, President Nixon's program of "Vietnamization" required the continued presence of a strong U.S. fighting force. The 2nd Battalion of the 5th Regiment, 1st Battalion of the 7th Regiment, 2nd Battalion of the 8th Regiment and 1st Battalion of the 12th Regiment along with specialized support units as "F" Troop, 9th Cavalry and Delta Company, 229th Assault Helicopter Battalion helped establish the 3rd Brigade headquarters at Bien Hoa. Its primary mission was to interdict enemy infiltration and supply routes in War Zone D.

The 2nd Brigade, began its "Stand Down" in a phased withdrawal and was bought back to the United States, returning to Ft. Hood in April 1971. The 1st Cavalry Division had been the first army division to go to Vietnam and the last to leave.

"Firsts" had become the trademark of the First Team.

On 27 January 1973, a cease-fire was signed in Paris by the United States, South Vietnam, North Vietnam, and the Provisional Revolutionary Government of the National Liberation Front (NLF), the civilian arm of the South Vietnam Communists. A Four-Party Joint Military Commission was set up to implement such provisions as the withdrawal of foreign troops and the release of prisoners. An International Commission of Control and Supervision was established to oversee the cease-fire.

Desert Peecekeepers, 1992 - 2000

In August 1995, the Blackjack brigade combat team (BCT) deployed to Kuwait on 48 hours notice for "Operation Intrinsic Action" in response to aggressive actions by Iraq. 2nd BCT returned to Ft. Hood following extremely successful coalition training in November of that same year.

From 1995 to 1998 the Blackjack brigade deployed to four 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 (Hercules) recovery vehicle outside the continental United States.

Persian Gulf War, Southwest Asia, 1990 - 1991

Theater of Operations
In August 1990, the 1st Cavalry Division was alerted for deployment to Southwest Asia as part of the joint forces participating in Operation Desert Shield. The focus at that time was the defense of Saudi Arabia against potential Iraqi attack. The First Team soldiers flew from Robert Gray Army Airfield to Dhahran International Airport. There, they settled into warehouses and tents to await the arrival of their equipment. As soon as their equipment arrived, they moved to the remote Assembly Area Horse (AA Horse) in the Saudi desert 160 miles west of the airport.

By the end of three months intensive training, the 1st Cavalry Division was one of the most modern and powerfully equipped divisions in the Army. The first glimpse of their capability came in December 1990, on the division's Pegasus Range which had been built up from the sands of the Saudi desert. Every tank and Bradley crew test fired their new weapons as part of the new equipment transition training. Throughout this period, leaders of the division were planning and rehearsing the First Team's role as the theater counterattack force - the force that would defeat any Iraqi attack into Saudi Arabia.

Defense in the Wadi 14 Jan 1991
In January 1991, the division was attached to VII(US) Corps and the focus of the First Team clearly began to shift toward offensive action. The division moved its 17,000 soldiers who were now accustomed to "jumping", 500 kilometers to another assembly area near King Khalid Military City (KKMC) in northern Saudi Arabia. This repositioning put the division in a key strategic location covering the historic Wadi al Batin approach into Saudi Arabia and threatening Iraq along the same avenue into western Kuwait, completing defensive preparations along the Tapline Road. The 1st Brigade tied in with the 6th (French) Light Division to the left and the 2nd Brigade along with the 101st 2nd Airborne Division to the right.

As the war progressed into the offensive stage, the mission of the 1st Cavalry Division changed in order to support the impending invasion of Iraq. In mid-February 1991, prior to the ground invasion of Iraq, the division fought the Battle of Ruqi Pocket, a critical feint designed to make the enemy believe that the main coalition ground attack would occur at the Wadi al-Batin region of the Iraq-Saudi border. On 15 February 1991, the Blackjack Brigade participated in Operation Berm Buster, where they breached the defensive berm between Saudi Arabia and Iraq to feign the initial stages of a ground invasion. Later that night, the Blackjack Brigade participated in Operation Red Storm, an artillery and aviation barrage of Iraqi border targets designed to suggest that the area was being prepped for assault.

On 19 February, Task Force 1-5 Cavalry, 2nd Brigade conducted Operation KNIGHT STRIKE, a reconnaissance in force through the Wadi al-Batin, becoming the first coalition unit to enter Iraq. The task force suffered 12 casualties, but successfully accomplished its mission of simulating the reconnaissance efforts for an impending invasion. The feints at the Wadi al-Batin allowed the VII Corps and the XVIII ABN Corps to stage themselves to the far west in preparation for the actual invasion on G-Day, 24 February 1991. It also tied up four Iraqi divisions in the Wadi al-Batin region, where the Iraqis were now convinced that the main attack would occur.

The First Team began a calculated war of deception along the Saudi border. The goal was to lure Saddam Hussein into believing the main ground attack of the Allies would come up the Wadi al Batin, a natural invasion route, causing him to reposition additional forces there. The deception consisted of three major thrusts;

Deception in the Wadi 20 Feb 1991
During 07 - 20 February, the offensive lines of the 1st Cavalry Division had crept north and are now just below the border. Both of the 1st and 2nd Brigades and supporting artillery conducted reconnaissance, artillery raids, and "Berm Buster" obstacle reduction missions. Desert Storm's "First" major ground encounter was on 19/20 February 1991, when the division's 2nd (Blackjack) Brigade conducted Operation Knight Strike I, 10 kilometers into Iraq, confirming and destroying enemy positions.

After thirty-eight days of continuous air attacks on targets in Iraq and Kuwait, the commander of the Allied Forces, General Norman Schwarzkopf unleashed all-out attacks against Iraqi forces very early on 24 February 1991. On that day, the mission of the 1st Cavalry Division was to conduct a "feint" attack up the Wadi al Batin, creating the illusion that it was the Allies main ground attack.

In the early afternoon of "G-DAY", 24 February 1991, the Division initiated Operation QUICK STRIKE. The 3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, reinforced by "A" Battery, 21st Field Artillery MLRS, laid down heavy fire in support of the 2nd "Blackjack" Brigade's "feint" attack up the Wadi al Batin. Following the artillery barrage, the Blackjack Brigade conducted Operation DEEP STRIKE. Blackjack moved out at approximately 1700 hours in a move north in a limited attack to fix the focus of the enemy on the Wadi. Meanwhile, far to the west, the VII Corps and the XVIII Airborne had already began a deep strike into Iraq.

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Summary Of Actions, 24 - 28 February
The enemy reacted as anticipated. Iraqi divisions focused on the coalition threat in the Wadi, and the First Team froze them. The deception worked, in that it tied down four Iraqi divisions, leaving their flanks thinned and allowed the VII Corps to attack virtually unopposed, conducting a successful envelopment of Iraqi forces to the west.

Having fulfilled their assigned mission of deception, the following day, General Norman Schwarzkopf issued the command "Send in the First Team. Destroy the Republican Guard. Let's go home". In the approximate center of the allied line, along the Wadi al Batin, Maj. Gen. John H. Tilelli, Jr.'s 1st Cavalry Division swung west at noon the 26 of February, conducting refueling on the move, crossing the 1st Infantry Division breach sites and moving up the left side of VII Corps' sector by late 26 February, and attacked north into a concentration of Iraqi divisions, whose commanders remained convinced that the Allies would use the Wadi al Batin and several other wadies as avenues of attack.

Destroy the Republican Guard
The first enemy encountered was the Iraqi 27th Infantry Division. That was not their first meeting. General Tilelli's division had actually been probing the Iraqi defenses for some time. As these limited thrusts continued in the area that became known as the "Ruqi Pocket". The 1st Cavalry found and destroyed elements of five Iraqi divisions, evidence that they had succeeded in their theater reserve mission of drawing and holding enemy units.

As the VII and XVIII Corps were beginning to mount the main invasion of Iraq to their far west, the Blackjack Brigade pressed into Iraq once more through the Wadi al-Batin and feinted as though they led the main invasion force. The brigade fought throughout the night and following day, fixing four Iraqi divisions and allowing the main invasion force to envelop the enemy from their west flank. With its mission an unqualified success, the Blackjack Brigade withdrew back through the Wadi al-Batin and united with the assaulting force of the VII Corps to pursue and destroy the Iraqi Republican Guard in the Basra Region.

Night fell as the rain and sand whipped the armor of the advancing wedge. Blackjack fought to the fire trenches of the enemy. The oil-filled trenches, hundreds of meters long and placed in two staggered rows. blocked progress up the Wadi. They overlapped so that the only way through the burning trenches was around the ends and into enemy prepared kill sacks.

By mid afternoon 27 February, after a high-speed 190 mile (305 Km) move north and east, slicing into the enemy's rear, General Tilelli's brigades joined in with the 24th Division across the VII Corps' boundary. The dust storms had cleared early in the day, revealing the most awesome array of armored and mechanized power fielded since World War II. In a panorama extending beyond visual limits 1,500 tanks, another 1,500 Bradleys and armored personnel carriers, 650 artillery pieces, and supply columns of hundreds of vehicles stretching into the dusty brown distance rolled east through Iraqi positions, as inexorable as a lava flow.

By 28 February 1991, when the cease-fire ordered by President Bush went into effect, the Iraqis had lost 3,847 of their 4,280 tanks, over half of their 2,880 armored personnel carriers, and nearly all of their 3,100 artillery pieces. Only five to seven of their forty-three combat divisions remained capable of offensive operations. In the days after the cease-fire the busiest soldiers were those engaged in the monumental task of counting and caring for an estimated 60,000 prisoners.

Stand Down After Cease Fire
1st Cavalry Division units setup defensive positions where the cease fire had stopped the attack, then in its final mission, expanded north to "Highway 8" clearing bunkers and looking for enemy equipment and soldiers. On 13 March, the remaining 17,000 troopers still in the war areas of the desert, in a stately column of armor, passed through the berm, no longer an obstacle no more impressive than a spoil of a snowplow. In the following days, the 1st Cavalry Division moved south into Saudi Arabia and its new home, AA Killeen. named after the major town adjacent to Ft. Hood. AA Killeen was located on the plain of the Wadi al Batin, just west of Hafer al Batin. There on the plain of the Wadi al Batin - the Division began to prepare for their redeployment home.

Things began moving faster now. It was time to put the tracked vehicles aboard trucks for the trip south to the port for cleaning. All vehicles would be "scrubbed" in Dhahran. Soon as the vehicles left, soldiers were picked up and they left AA Killeen and the Wadi al Batin. Few, if any looked back. The destination of the convey was a sprawling, white concrete high-rise apartment complex at Kohbar in Dhahran. Built for someone who had never decided to move in or rent out, the deserted buildings with air-conditioning, running water and toilets, were a perfect temporary location for a redeploying army.

During Operation Desert Storm, the First Team accumulated several new "Firsts":
  • "First" to defend along the Saudi-Iraq border.
  • "First" to fire Copperhead artillery rounds in combat.
  • "First" to conduct intensive MLRS artillery raids.
  • "First" to conduct mobile armored warfare in Iraq .

First Team Persian Gulf Color Guard

Force Restructing, 1992 - 2000

Upon return to the United States, in April 1991. the first of a series of reorganizations were initiated in the period May 1991 to August 1993, which resulted in a contingency force, ready to deploy anywhere in the world on a moments notice.

Bosnain Peacekeepers, 1998 - 1999

On 07 October 1998, the First Cavalry Division, in the mission of "Task Force Eagle," conducting peace support operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, assumed authority of the Multinational Division (North) area of operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from the 1st Armored Division.

The mission of the 1st Cavalry Division was to conduct operations to enforce the military provisions set forth by the Dayton Accords. Their day-to-day presence and commitment to the citizens of this ravaged nation helped prove that a lasting and self-sustaining peace is possible. In order to conduct successful peace missions while in theater, soldiers were extensively trained on mine awareness, country and cultural customs and checkpoint and convoy operations.

Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, 2001

In November 2001, as a direct response to the attacks of September 11th, Task Force Blackjack deployed to Kuwait as a participant in "Operation Enduring Freedom". The brigade combat team prepared and subsequently deployed in November 2001, fourteen days after notification, and returned to Ft. Hood in early April 2002 following a highly successful operational deployment.

Operation IRAQI FREEDOM - I, 2003

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Operation IRAQI FREEDOM II, 2003 - 2005

The BlackJack brigade deployed to Iraq in January 2004 as the lead element for the division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom II. During the initial deployment, the 2nd BCT was attached to the 1st Armored Division and patrolled Western Baghdad. The brigade fell back under the 1st Cavalry Division in May 2004. During deployment, a 14 month combat tour, the Soldiers saw action in Western Baghdad, An Najef, Fallujah, and Northern Babil.

Army Modular Forces, 2005

On 24 May, following their returm from the deployment, the 2nd Brigade underwent modular transformation into a Brigade Combat Team. To accomplish this, the Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) of the 1st Cavalry Division were reconstituted into seven integrated fighting groups consisting of a headquarters company, a reconnaissance battalion, two maneuver battalions, an artillery battalion, a brigade support battalion and a brigade support troop battalion. Once transitioned, these new BCTs enabled greater capacity for rapid packaging and responsive and sustained employment to support combatant commanders. BCTs also enhanced the expeditionary and campaign qualities of Army forces by better enabling Joint/coalition operations.

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 eventually integrated into a Brigade Special Troops Battalion. The reorganized 2nd Brigade Combat Team lost 2-12th Cavalry, but gained an organic cavalry squadron (4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment), a field artillery battalion (3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment), and their oiwn support function (15th Brigade Support Battalion).

On 17 October 2005, Headquarters, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division remained as structured, but there after continued as a separate lineage.

Also on 17 October 2005, Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, was reorganized and redesignated as the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team. In a short one year time span, the organic companies of the Special Troops Battalion were composed of five separate, functional organizations.

The creation and designation of this new Special Troops Battalion, along with the transfer and reorganization of the subordinate elements created an organization that had earned and accrued a significant battle and campaign history along with an impressive lineage.

During the transformation, the Blackjack 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 Blackjack Brigade provided humanitarian and military assistance to the local governance and to the citizens of the Algiers district.

Operation IRAQI FREEDOM IV, 2006 - 2008

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). 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.

Blackjack 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.

Operation IRAQI FREEDOM VI, 2008 - 2010

In January 2008, the Blackjack Brigade returned to Ft. 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 Blackjack 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.

Operation IRAQI DRAWDOWN, 2009 - 2010

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 Blackjack 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. In March 2010, Kirkuk participated in national elections for the first time since the invasion in 2003, with approximately 79-percent voter participation and no reported acts of violence.

Operation NEW DAWN, 2010 - 2012

Needs Data

The Blackjack Brigade has led the way throughout its remarkable history. In a review of its accomplishments under the 1st Cavalry Division,during World War II the 2nd Brigade Combat Team was first to storm the island of Leyte and reach the capital of Manila during the liberation of the Philippines, the first in Japan during World War II and as part of the 1st Cavalry Division, were one of the first allied unit to enter the city of Tokyo. They were the first Brigades of the 1st Cavalry Division to conduct operations in the Republic of Vietnam. During the Persian Gulf War, Blackjack was the first coalition unit to conduct offensive ground-operations in Operation Desert Storm, They were first brigade of the 1st Cavalry Divisions to deploy to Operation Iraqi Freedom and the first to completely reorganize under Force Twenty One; the first brigade to arrive in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

The Blackjack Brigade Combat Team stands ready to lead the way to any contingency area world-wide to accomplish any mission that the future might bring.

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Copyright © 1996, Cavalry Outpost Publications ® and Trooper Wm. H. Boudreau, "F" Troop, 8th Cavalry Regiment (1946 - 1947). All rights to this body of work are reserved and are not in the public domain, or as noted in the bibliography. Reproduction, or transfer by electronic means, of the History of the 1st Cavalry Division, the subordinate units or any internal element, is not permitted without prior authorization. Readers are encouraged to link to any of the pages of this Web site, provided that proper acknowledgment attributing to the source of the data is made. The information or content of the material contained herein is subject to change without notice.

Revised 16 Oct '11 SpellChecked