7th Cavalry Regiment
In Readiness
"The Seventh First"

1st Cavalry Division Headquarters - 1971
On 05 May 1971, after 28 years, the colors of the 1st Cavalry Division, minus those of the 3rd Brigade, were moved from Vietnam to Texas, its birthplace. Using the assets and personnel of the 1st Armored Division, located at Fort Hood, Texas the 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized, reassigned to III Corps and received an experimental designation of the Triple-Capability (TRICAP) Division. Its mission, under the direction of Modern Army Selected Systems Test, Evaluation and Review (MASSTER) was to carry on a close identification with and test forward looking combined armor, air cavalry and airmobile concepts. The new 1st Cavalry Division consisted of the 1st Armored Brigade, the 2nd Air Cavalry Combat Brigade (ACCB), the 4th Airmobile Infantry Brigade, which the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was assigned. Division Artillery provided the fire support and Support Command provided normal troop support and service elements.

TRICAP, an acronym for TRIple-CAPability, was derived from combining the ground (mechanized infantry or armor) capability, airmobile infantry and air cavalry or attack helicopter forces. TRICAP I was held at Fort Hood, Texas beginning in February 1972. The purpose of TRICAP I was to investigate the effectiveness and operational employment of the TRICAP concept at battalion and company levels when conducting tactical operations in a 1979 European mid-intensity warfare environment. The exercise consisted of six phases; movement to contact, defense and delay, exploitation, elimination of penetration, rear area security and night elimination of penetration in an adjacent area.

On 26 June 1972, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry along with the 3rd Brigade (Separate) was brought back to the United States, completing the last stage of the "Vietnam recall" for the 1st Cavalry Division which had started over a year earlier on 05 May 1971. On 22 August, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry was inactivated at Fort Hood, Texas. Their period of inactivation was short lived. On 06 June 1974, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment was reactivated as a M60A1 Tank Battalion and assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas.

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TRICAP Division Organization - 1972
The main body of the 1st Cavalry Division, at Fort Hood, under the direction of MASSTER, continued to test future concepts of mobility and flexibility on the battlefield. The tests continued for three and a half years were very demanding. It was concluded that the employment of the TRICAP concept at the battalion level appeared to have application in some tactical situations, but employment at company level appeared to be feasible only for short periods of combat and for special missions. Evaluation also indicated that air cavalry would normally be controlled above the company level. The battalion task force encountered no combat support problems directly attributable to the TRICAP concept.

On 21 February 1975, the end of TRICAP evaluations, the mission of airmobile anti-armor warfare was transferred to the 6th Cavalry Brigade (Air Combat) co-located at Fort Hood, Texas and the 1st Cavalry Division was reorganized and redesignated to become the newest Armored Division in the Army, essentially the battle configuration it retains today. In September 1978, the division also received the mission for testing the Division Restructure (DRS) concept, used to determine the most effective use of manpower and weapons systems for the battlefields of the future.

In 1980, as part of the continuous Force Modernization and Preparation for combat of the unknown enemies of the future, the division was chosen to field test the new XM-1 tank. At the same time the division shed the battle weary M551 Sheridan armored reconnaissance airborne assault vehicles for M60 tanks. Meanwhile, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and supporting troops of the 8th Cavalry Regiment were deployed to Germany as part of the Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise to put together a combat ready tank battalion using stored (prepositioned) equipment. This mission lead to the formation of the annual autumn exercises to become known as REturn of FORces to GERmany (REFORGER).

In September 1982, the division's first National Training Center (NTC) rotation at Fort Irwin, located in the High Mojave Desert of California, kicked off a long on-going series of tough, realistic desert battles which enables the division to stay on the leading edge of warfare technology of today. The first units to attend were the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry and 3rd Battalion, 10th Cavalry of the 2nd Brigade. The Division now conducts three NTC rotations per year.

1st Cavalry Division Headquarters - 1980

The opening ceremonies for the new 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters Building were held in July. A modern brick, 124,000 square-foot facility replaced the original World War II structures, enabling the housing of the Division Staff under one roof. Major General William C. Chase (Retired), who commanded the Division in the final days of World War II through the occupation of Japan, participated in the ribbon cutting which was held during the 36th reunion of the Association.

In the fall of 1983, the division deployed to Europe for the annual REFORGER exercises. This deployment was consistent with the contingency plans for its NATO reinforcement role. REFORGER '83 was the largest deployment of the division since Vietnam. A real test of war equipment repositioned stocks, REFORGER also marked the first time the exercise was lead by the Dutch.

On 16 October 1986, the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry furled its colors and assumed a new role as the 1st Battalion, 32 Armor and remained assigned to the 2nd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. In the same divisional organization change, the colors of the 1st Squadron (Reconnaissance), 9th Cavalry were removed from service and the unit was redesignated 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry. For the first time since 1943, the 1st Squadron was conducting missions as a true cavalry unit. At that time, the unit consisted of one ground troop and two air troops, with a combat power of 20 M3A1 Bradleys, 8 AH-1P Cobra Attack Helicopters and 12 OH-58C observation helicopters.

On 16 January 1987, the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry was relieved from assignment from the 1st Cavalry Division and assigned to the 4th Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado. It would not be until the end of the Gulf War and subsequent reorganization of 11 August 1993, when the 4th Battalion, 6th Infantry, 2nd Armored Division would be reflagged as the 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment and assigned to the 3rd "Greywolf" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, filling out the present organization structure.

Return of Forces to Germany
In the summer of 1987, the 1st Cavalry Division deployed on REFORGER '87 with the 2nd Armored Division. With the decline of the role of the Warsaw Pact, the sizes of subsequent REFORGER deployments were reduced, but command and control elements continued to evaluate the need for equipment types and repositioning of "war stocks" along with development of contingency plans to ensure the reliability and effectiveness of combat readiness, should deployment become necessary.

At Fort Hood, the division, through deliberate planning, evolved into the combat unit which would be eventually assigned a major role in the Gulf War. Along with the constant training of personnel, equipment was updated. The XM-1 tank, renamed the M1 Abrams, was accepted and issued, along with the BFV (Bradley M2 Infantry) and CFV (M3 Cavalry) fighting vehicles. New technology was fielded in the MLRS (Multiple Launched Rocket Systems) and the AH-64 Apache helicopter with its "Hellfire" guided missile. The old reliable Jeep bowed to the HEMTT (Heavy Expanded Multi-purpose Tactical Truck), capable of hauling fuel, ammunition and various cargos, and the HMMWV (High Mobility Multi-purpose Wheeled Vehicle, configured as troop/cargo carrier, light armored personnel carrier, communications equipment carrier and ambulance, - both of which proved to be invaluable in the Gulf War.

National Training Center, Ft. Irwin
Along with the hardware technology changes, communication innovations made possible quantum leaps in command and control operations by the fielding of MSE (Mobile Subscriber Equipment) which, essentially cellular telephones for both fixed sites and mobile vehicles, provides secure mobile voice/data and facsimile service. The MSE is augmented by SINGARS, the Single Channel Ground to Air Communication System, which provides unprecedented security using frequency hopping technology.

All of this new equipment saw hard operational use at Fort Hood and by the deployment of brigades to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, located in the High Mojave Desert of California. This facility encompasses 1,000 square miles for maneuver training against the best trained opposing force in the world. The mission of Fort Irwin is to provide tough, realistic combined arms training at battalion task force level using both live fire and opposing forces. To carry out this mission, the National Training Center has a computerized, live-fire complex with sophisticated targetry, a full-time opposing force, a state-of-the-art range instrumentation system that monitors training battles and full-time combat trainers who observe and control units during exercises.

USNS Capella, RollOn RollOff Vessel
This effective training could have not come at a more opportune time in the history of the First Team. On 07 August 1990, a deployment order for the Southwest Asia operations was issued. Plans calling for the division to deploy by 15 September extended the work day to 14, 16 and in some cases 24 hours. On schedule, by mid September over 800 heavy loaded vehicles were loaded at the Fort Hood railhead to make the trip to the seaports of Houston and Beaumont. An additional 4,200 vehicles formed road conveys that left every two hours, around the clock.

On 16 September, in the final drama, soldiers assembled for roll call, answering their name as called on the manifest. They were ready as the moment came; busses pulled up and were loaded for the trip to the airfield, The time for future memories had begun as a US Air Force C5A Galaxy, carrying the advanced party of headquarters staff, left Fort Hood, Robert Gray Army Airfield, heading to their rendezvous with destiny.

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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 10 Oct '09 SpellChecked