During the most recent deployment in Iraq, several reconstitutional changes were studied, considered and since the return of the Division to Ft. Hood, TX. from Operation Freedom IV, are now being implemented to be ready and more prepared for their next deployment. The more recent changes made since their return are:
The 1st Cavalry Division of Today is depicted in the organizational chart below:
|1st Cavalry Division Brigade Combat Team Organization|
|Realigned - 07 March, 2008|
In separate ceremonies at Cooper Field, the major commanders of the Combat Team Brigades, Battalions and subordinate units, who served recently in Iraq, relinquished their commands to newly appointed officers who will lead them, making their own contribution to the legacy of the Division. The dates of command changes were:
On 10 April, President Bush announced an overall change in the deployment policy for active components of Army units designated to be assigned to the CENTCOM area of operations after 01 August, 2008. This policy, which reflects the improved security situation in Iraq. reduces the "Boots On The Ground" time to no more than 12 months. The return to 12 months deployments will have no effect on the "dwell time" extended to each unit, which is currently 12 months to reset and allow soldiers and families to reconnect.
On 11 April, the 4th Combat Brigade returned home from the Joint Readiness
Training Center at Fort Polk, LA. and is continuing their preparation for its
upcoming summer deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. They spent
almost a month at the light infantry training center learning how to operate
as small teams. The Long Knife Brigade is putting the final touches on its
deployment schedule integrating new equipment and preparing their Soldiers for
the combat zone. The unit is scheduled to receive new vehicles and equipment,
including the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles in addition to
new weapons including the fielding of M-4. The M-4 carbine is a shorter weapon
that is more compatible for military operations in urban environments.
Conversely, the Long Knives are scheduled to transfer unarmored vehicles and
older equipment to units remaining at Ft. Hood.
The "D" Troop (Daggers) had been activated on 10 March, 2006 as a Provisional
unit specifically tailored to provide the Battalion and the Brigade much
needed maneuver capabilities on the battlefield. The unit, who sometimes took
on missions normally reserved for infantrymen, brought peace to Fallajuh, Iraq
by reducing attacks against Coalition forces in their area by 98 percent,
carried out over 1,300 combat missions and 250 humanitarian aid missions and
successfully brought every member of their group back home. Following the
formal ceremony, the Soldiers that trained, deployed and fought with "D" Troop
gathered, hugged, laughed and sadly wished each other luck as they dispersed
to their separate parent organizations.
The Troopers in the First Team Band are happy to have this month behind them. Along with the Honor Guard and the Horse Cavalry Detachment they were key parts of every ceremony and they all really performed to their experienced levels, doing a great job on every one of them. There is nothing better than a colorful Cavalry ceremony held on Cooper Field!
Although official orders for the deployment have not been published as yet,
the first order of business of the new commander will be the finalizing of
plans for another successful tour of duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom VI.
|Unit Colors Were Posted Around Operation Freedom Memorial|
On 16 May, the Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division, understanding the losses of battle, gathered with Gold Star families, friends and fellow warriors for a rededication of the Memorial of Operation Iraqi Freedom at Cooper Field Parade Grounds. As the unit colors of the 1st Cavalry Division were carried around the Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial to begin the rededication ceremony, the 1st Cavalry Division paid tribute to the fallen heroes of the most recent deployment with a 21-gun salute.
When the memorial was originally dedicated on 04 April, 2006, after the first Iraq deployment of the Division, 168 Soldier’s names were etched into the black granite stone. Today an additional 493 were memorialized, whose Units were organized under the Multi-National Division - Baghdad and gave the ultimate sacrifice for freedom. They represented 29 different brigades of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines assigned to the 1st Cavalry Division who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08.
On 19 May, the Department of Defense announced the deployment of over 6,000 Army and National Guard Troops in Texas for duty in the Middle East. The 72nd Brigade Combat Team is one of the four Army National Guard units tasked to follow the regular army deployments. The 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division is named among 25,000 designated to replace units in Iraq that are scheduled to return by the end of the year.
This most recent deployment, which will maintain a level of 15 brigades
(roughly 140,000 troops) will mark the third time that the 3rd Brigade has
been sent to the Middle East, following tours in Baghdad and Diyala Providence
in 2006. A large number of the 3,500 troops of the Brigade have been
previously deployed in combat areas - although not all with the 3rd Combat
Previously the "Long Knife" Brigade was part of the 4th Infantry Division and
deployed with it to Iraq in late 2005. As part of a reorganization between
Fort Hood, TX, Fort Bliss, TX and Fort Carson, CO the brigade was re-flagged
as a 1st Cavalry Division unit on 07 March. The former 4th Infantry soldiers
stayed at Fort Hood, but adopted the unit designations of the 1st Cavalry
Brigade, which transferred its colors from Fort Bliss, TX. The unit flags that
were cased during the ceremony of Wednesday will be unfurled in Iraq when the
unit officially assumes responsibility for the areas currently under the
control of the 82nd Airborne Brigade.
On 16 June, the last of the main body of the 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division flight took off from Ft. Hood, Texas without a hitch carrying its passengers to a 15-month deployment in Iraq. The nearly 60 Long Knife Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment onboard the flight to Kuwait, along with others of the brigade, will be conducting various combat skills training to include weapon ranges before moving from Camp Buehring, Kuwait to Iraq.
The flight marked the last large movement of 4th BCT troops to the combat zone for their deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation 08-10. With this last main body departure, only a small trailing flight of a handful of Long Knife Troops remain and will follow the other more than 3,500 4th BCT Soldiers to Kuwait sometime within the next week. The training and conditioning of the 4th at Camp Buehring, Kuwait will continue throughout the rest of June and into early July which schedules all of the brigade to be in Iraq by mid-July as planned.
On 30 June, the Department of Defense announced that the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st Cavalry Division will be deploying to Iraq in early 2009 to conduct a full spectrum of operations. The announcement reflected the continued commitment of the United States to the security of the Iraqi people, and provides replacement forces required to maintain the current level of effort in Iraq. The release also explained that "any subsequent deployment orders will be issued based on force level decisions made in the future."
Prior to the announcement dates of actual deployment, both the Ironhorse
Brigade and Black Jack Brigade will continue their focus on combined training.
The Ironhorse Brigade is scheduled for training at the National Training
Center in Fort Irwin, CA. while the Black Jack Brigade will conduct their
training at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, LA. Other units
of the Division will continue to train and concentrate on one of the most
important elements of readiness; updating their knowledge and skills required
to support and operation of newly acquired equipments.
On 19 July, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade received the first of their new XH-47 Chinook, heavy lift helicopters. From the outside the "F" Model does not look significantly different from their predecessors aside from the new paint job, but making that observation is like judging a book by its cover. This new model is the latest chapter in a long history dating all the way back to the Vietnam War. Now these new, technologically advanced, twin-rotor, heavy-lift helicopters are in the able hands of pilots and flight engineers from "B" Company, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade who are the third unit in the Army to field them.
The "F" Model definitely has a cleaner look and smell, but there is more to this aircraft than external appearances. The "F" Model has a plethora of new advancements that affects the way crew chiefs and flight engineers do their job. The new radio communication system allows the crew chiefs to communicate within their aircraft as well with other in-flight aircraft or the ground. If something were to happen in combat where one pilot got hit, the remaining pilot can concentrate on flying while a more senior flight engineer can take some of the radio traffic for him.
The main differences are in the cockpit and obviously in the frame. It's got a lot of new features that are mainly for the pilots, but anything that makes the pilots flight easier makes the job a little easier too. Then new Chinooks have a Common Architectural Aviation System, which is an upgraded cockpit layout that will be common throughout Chinooks and UH-60 Black Hawks. The multi-functional displays give the pilots the ability to track their position and plot their course on interactive maps. making that wrinkled old paper map nearly extinct.
One of these advancements that will help them while deployed to Iraq is the Horizontal Situation Display (HSD). When pilots land in a dusty environment, as may be encountered in the middle of the desert, they experience something they call brown-out. This is where their rotors kick up so much dust that the ground cannot be seen; this is even more difficult at night wearing night vision goggles. The HSD is basically a hover reference and it will identify exactly where the aircraft is drifting and what we need to do as pilots to correct it, eliminating the need for ground reference at all to land the aircraft under zero visibility conditions.
Along with the internal systems, there are some changes to the structure of
the aircraft and has a new system that allows for the aft pylon, the structure
at the rear of the aircraft that the houses the rear rotor, to be taken down
more quickly. The lengthy process of taking the aft pylon off so that it can
be strategically moved has been shortened significantly. When "B" Company
returned from Iraq, it took an entire week to break down five aircraft. Now,
with the new design, it would only take two days to do the same task. The
"F" Models have opened a new chapter in the history of both the Chinook airframe
and the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade which is being written by the pilots and
Among the several weapons systems tested was the XM 320 40 MM Grenade launcher that will start being issued in February of 2009. The new XM 320 grenade launcher comes with improved features such as the sighting system designed to lessen interference with rifle and carbine sights. The new grenade launcher also eliminates the need to re-zero after reattaching to a weapon. It is constructed of light weight composition materials for improved durability.
Another of the systems in the experimental stage is the Lightweight 0.50
caliber Machine gun which is a variant of the Enhanced 0.50 caliber Machine
Gun. It is being built for Special Forces now and in the near future for
infantry schools. The new design system can fire all of the current 0.50
caliber ammunition in the inventory. It has a significant reduction in weight
and recoil force. The new design reduces the recoil by at least 60 percent and
also allows for a vehicle to become more lethal but still maintain the light
weight. Other weapons tested during the exercise were the M26 12 Gauge Modular
Accessory Shotgun System and the new M107 Semi-automatic Long Range Sniper
Rifle. These, like many of the weapon’s multi-systems are still in the design
stage and will require several years before they are used Army wide.
On 31 July, the Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team conducted a special training exercise on one of their most recent additions to their motor pool, the Fox M93 Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) Vehicle. The training consisted of testing the amphibious characteristics of the vehicles by swimming them for the first time since their return to their home station. Troopers use the Fox as a mobile NBC reconnaissance laboratory.
The Fox, designed to survive a chemical, biological, or radiological attack,
executes its mission through an enhanced sensor suite consisting of the M21
Remote Sensing Chemical Agent Alarm (RSCAAL), MM1 Mobile Mass Spectrometer,
Chemical Agent Monitor/Improved Chemical Agent Monitor (CAM/ICAM), AN/VDR-2
Beta Radiac, and M22 Automatic Chemical Agent Detector/Alarm (ACADA). The NBC
sensor suite is digitally linked to the communications and navigation systems
by a dual-purpose central processor system known as the Multipurpose
Integrated Chemical Agent Detector (MICAD). The MICAD processes and fully
automates NBC warning and reporting functions while providing the crew
commander with full situational awareness of the NBC sensors, navigation, and
communications systems. It is also equipped with a Global Positioning System
(GPS) an Autonomous Navigation System (ANAV) that enables the system to
accurately locate and report agent contamination. It is equipped with an
over-pressure filtration system that permits the crew to operate in a
shirt-sleeve environment that is fully protected from the effects of NBC
agents and contamination outside the vehicle.
Inasmuch as training would press through any storm, the main goal during the
JRTC rotation would remain "team building". The brigade come together as a
team to accomplish the mission, whether it is the training objectives inherent
to the Situational Training Exercise (STX) lanes, or force-on-force. This
exercise is the last major training event for the 2nd BCT before their
deployment to Iraq which is scheduled early next year. The JRTC and its staff
at Fort Polk provided the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade with real-to-life training'
that allows units to take full advantage of the facilities which simulates a
deployment to Iraq with all the challenges and variables that a unit may face.
The attention to detail was evident in the rubble piles lining the roads
throughout the training area that hide Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and
the native role players that Soldiers will encounter during training who may
or may not be the enemy.
The Soldiers of the Division Headquarters are gearing up for a Mission Rehearsal Exercise in late October which will simulate the types of situations they will encounter in Iraq while working as members of a headquarters staff. The 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team (BCT) of the division has been on the ground for nearly four months, in central and eastern Iraq. Most of the other Brigade Combat Teams of the division have already received notice that they will be deploying either by the end of the year or in early 2009. A Pentagon announcement in May explained that the 3rd BCT would deploy to Iraq "to replace troops scheduled to come home by the year’s end," whereas, in late June, the Pentagon announced that the 1st and 2nd BCTs of the division would be deploying to Iraq in early 2009.
The 3rd "Greywolf" BCT is currently conducting combined training at the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin, CA. while the 2nd "Black Jack" BCT is conducting its training scenarios at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA. Soldiers with the 1st "Ironhorse" BCT will be training at NTC throughout the month of October. Most of the Soldiers deploying with the division should have "boots on the ground" in Iraq by the spring of 2009.
On 17 October, two companies from 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd
Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division performed individual weapons field
qualifications at the reflexive fire range on Fort Hood. Among the Soldiers
at the range, several were brand new to the unit and had missed the summer
field exercise of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, "Greywolf Prowl", as well
as their deployment to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, CA. The
pre-deployment exercises of today were just one of many requirements along
with a personal fitness review that all in the battalion must accomplish
before the Brigade is fully qualified for deployment to Iraq this winter.
With so many Soldiers manning so many vital roles inside of such a small space it emphasizes why training events of this nature are so important for crews. It gives them a chance to get to know fellow troopers they will be working elbow to elbow with for a year. It helps teach new Soldiers how to use the new weapon systems. It also builds crew cohesion and gives ample time to build on any deficiencies crews might have. With multiple deployments under their belts, many of the "Black Jack" troopers find it easy to teach new soldiers who have just joined their ranks. Different scenarios have been replicated to help bring this range into line with the current conflict. Rocket-propelled grenade teams have been set up as targets to make it more realistic. This is an opportunity for everyone to learn from the tank commander down to the loader, and it gives the tankers a chance to shoot at various types of targets.
This multipurpose objective training also helps Soldiers test their equipment before they take them into conflict. With this final pre-deployment tank training completed, new "Black Jack" Soldiers are being given the opportunity to learn from the experienced leaders and crewmembers that will accompany them to Iraq. Even those who have undergone this training many times before have been given a chance to hone their tanker skills and practice working with the new Soldiers. They can expect this training to come in hand once their boots touch ground in Iraq.
On 03 November, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (ACB) "Warriors" began the introduction of the newly reconstructed operational unit, the "Blues Platoon" which is modeled from information gathered the roots of their weathered past operating in the jungles of Vietnam. A Blues Platoon is a platoon of ground Soldiers that are attached to an aviation unit to conduct deliberate and hasty operations, enabling the aviation units to react to a multitude of missions quicker than before. There will be a total of three Blues platoons within the 1st ACB – all will be attached to the 3rd "Spearhead" Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB. "Spearhead"is an assault helicopter battalion made up of about 30 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
One of the Blues Platoons from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry
Division has already arrived for training The other two will come from the 1st
Brigade Combat Team. The Blues Platoon will take part in many operations
ranging from downed aircraft recovery, unmanned aerial vehicle recovery, hasty
checkpoints, air assaults and more. In assuming these new missions the former
tankers will be giving up their tanks to mount up on their new steeds "Black
Hawks" and CH-47F Chinooks. Because these are the new operational vehicles to
the tankers, there will be extensive training sessions which will lead up to a
rotation at the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, CA., and ultimately
their deployment to Iraq.
On 18 November, Soldiers from the Special Troop Battalions, Brigade Combat Teams, 1st Calvary Division were provided orientation and training in team pre-deployment on Toxic Industrial Chemical Protection and Detection Equipment (TICPDE) and hazardous material identification at Hunter Army Airfield by the 2nd Chemical Battalion, 48th Chemical Brigade stationed at Ft. Hood. TX. For the 30 Special Troop Battalion Soldiers involved, the training and familiarization with the equipment became extremely important due to a high volume of chlorine and other Toxic Industrial Chemicals (TIC) detected in Iraq during the last deployment of the Division. Following that deployment, the Department of the Army approved and issued a directive to develop and provide specialized equipment and training in order to safely mitigate the hazards of dealing with TIC.
It can take up to 3 to 4 minutes for the system breathing apparatus to be
fully operational, prior to conducting any mission. This makes the buddy
system, of helping each other to get into their protective gear, both a time
and life saver for all troops under chemical response operations. A key change
in making the equipment lighter, approximately 6 to 22 pounds; just a couple
of pounds lighter than the previous equipment used in theater.
After the situational training exercise, all Soldiers in Level "B" suits assisted Soldiers in Level "A" suits to a full step-by-step decontamination process to ensure safety to those not exposed to the contaminated area. Chemical troops from the 2nd Battalion, Ft. Hood will continue to conduct situational training for all Special Troops Battalions for the 1st Cavalry Division until the end of November.
On 05 December, members of the 1st Brigade Combat Team began the implementation
of a pre-deployment operation detail work plan of securing, bracing, packing
and shipping preparations along with the preparation of manifest lists of
their essential and necessary equipment stored in the secured containers in
readiness for their upcoming deployment to Iraq. Execution of the plans will
make them to be more fully operational in the least time when they arrive in
Following the ceremony the first deployment flights of soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team began. Leaving Ft. Hood for the Middle East, these units are the first of what the Army calls the "Main Body". Members of the Advance-Party have already left to prepare for the arrival of the main bodies. Today marks the departure of more than 1,000 First Team soldiers that follows the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division who are already in Iraq, having already served six months of an expected 15-month deployment under the 10th Mountain Division as part of Multinational Division-Center and operating in southern Iraq.
Overseas flights, loaded with First Team Solders, from Robert Gray Army Airfield located at West Ft. Hood will remain steady this month and extend into January and February. Although a specific deployment schedule has not been publically released, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will follow the 3rd Brigade Combat Team. The Division Headquarters Group is expected to leave sometime in January. The last of the Main Body units will consist mostly of the 1st Brigade Combat Team along with specific unit fill-ins.
This is the 3rd deployment to Iraq for the 1st Cavalry Division. Their mission will focus on improving what they have previously accomplished in their last two deployments. In military terms, is known as tactical oversight, and the leaders within the division expect that they be doing much the same throughout 2009 and into the early part of 2010. 1st Cavalry Division will switch out the command of Multinational Division-Baghdad with the 4th Infantry Division, led by Major General Jeffery Hammond. The 1st and 2nd Brigades will be stationed in Baghdad with the Headquarters and Special Troops Battalion while the 3rd Brigade will move north to the Mosul area. Other units, in Iraq, that will be reattached to the division include the 82nd Airborne Division, 1st Infantry Division and 1st Armored Division Brigades, and the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team (SBCT), 28th Infantry Division, a National Guard unit from Pennsylvania.
On 13 December, nearly 900 soldiers from the Special Troops Battalion; Brigade
Support Battalion; 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment; and 2nd Battalion, 82nd
Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Combat Brigade left Saturday, a day after the
Division cased its colors and sent out its first flights of soldiers. More
than 800 others from the Special Troops Battalion; 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry;
and 1st Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Combat Brigade are scheduled to
leave Sunday, the 14th of December.
The WAG training program was developed based on successful lessons learned from operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is different because it is more in depth and more standardized. It gives Soldiers a full picture of basic and combat marksmanship and how to conduct cordon and search missions better along with the ability to capture or contain high value targets, and conduct site sensitive exploitation.
With the addition of two UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from the "A" Troop, 3rd
Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, the training puts
together all the aspects of different training classes they have received.
Using the available sunlight, the Soldiers put on their gear and completed
their pre-combat checks and inspections. Then, once the UH-60 Blackhawks
landed, the teams rehearsed loading and unloading the aircraft under the
supervision of the crew chiefs. As the sun set, team leaders met with the
pilots to conduct a hasty planning session.
On the previous days, the Soldiers wake up early for a 6-mile road march. They had to complete the march in less than two hours to continue on. The Soldiers then go through various mission scenarios testing everything from their ability to detect and react to an improvised explosive device to disassembling and reassembling their weapons. The event is a longstanding tradition for cavalrymen.
Before cavalry troops rode on armored vehicles, their major mode of fighting
was on horses. The spurs were presented to Soldiers who had mastered riding,
swordsmanship and marksmanship. This is where the modern-day "Spur Ride" finds
its roots. But, before attempting a "Spur Ride" Soldiers will need one thing
to carry them through the endurance tests- "heart" After two grueling days all
the troops of "Dark Horse" gathered to applaud the Soldiers who had conquered
the "Spur Ride" and as the results were compiled at the Soldiers were are
presented their well-deserved spurs in a ceremony, knowing that they were
earned instead of having it given to them.
On 07 January, Soldiers from the 3rd element of the "main body" of the 1st Cavalry Division, the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, arrived at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, signaling the completion of its deployment to the Central Command Theater of operations. The Soldiers are here on temporary assignment, to conduct environmental conditioning, training and briefings that will prepare them for their eventual deployment destination: Iraq. It is a vital stop for the Soldiers of 2nd Brigade and other units preparing to move into Iraq.
The training in Kuwait includes mandatory events such as roll-over drills, in which a humvee simulator is flipped over with the crew who practices various ways to escape the vehicle. The Soldiers also go through counter-Improvised Explosive Device (IED) training and have a chance to familiarize with the components of the different vehicles they will be using in Iraq. In addition, they will also have a chance to attend optional training including: convoy, live-fire practice; sniper training; and counter-insurgency training, amongst other things.
The living conditions and amenities at Camp Buehring, which include a variety
of American eating facilities like Taco Bell and Burger King. While Kuwait
might not be the final destination for the 2nd BCT Soldiers, the mission here
is no less important. The training the Soldiers receive here will save lives
and improve the mission readiness of the unit.
The DRRF is an area where deploying units stage vehicles and make all the
necessary preparations for transportation. Once complete, the vehicles are
moved to the railhead to be loaded onto a train for movement across country.
In conducting these preparatory operations, safety is a big focus. As a safety
measure, all Soldiers in the rail yard are required to wear road guard vests
as well as their helmets. The Soldiers also have to be especially careful
about moving on and off the railcars because they're six feet off the ground.
After two days of tedious vehicle movement, the operation was completed safely
with no injuries.
The Soldiers will be joining their fellow Cavalry troopers from the 3rd and 4th brigades who are currently serving in Iraq and departed from Ft. Hood in mid to late 2008. Filling out the full Division of approximately 19,000 troops, the headquarters staff sections will be departing in mid and late January, with the 1st Brigade Combat Team following shortly after in February. The last party to deploy will be Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade who, fresh from their NTC training, will have boots on the ground by early summer 2009.
As with the other units of the 1st Cavalry Division who have deployed, the
departing Black Jack troopers will stage, for at least a week, to perform some
final combat skills training at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, and then will be moving
on to their designated forward operating bases in Iraq. One of the main goals
of the Black Jack Brigade is to assist the Security Forces of Iraq to continue
working toward their full transformation in taking responsibility for all the
security of Iraq.
On 10 January, Soldiers from the 1st Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, continuing their preparation for the National Training exercises, begin loading an AH-64D Apache attack helicopter on an Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, at Robert Gray Army Airfield, Ft. Hood, TX. Loading of a single Apache on the C-17 requires extensive mechanical and electrical support skills as the 4 main rotor blades, stabilator and all radio antennas must be removed from the helicopter before being loaded into the aircraft. The Apache is being loaded onto the C-17 as training en route to Ft. Irwin, CA. for a month-long rotation at the National Training Center.
On 09 February, major modifications to helicopter weapons systems to provide better defense and targeting systems for aviators began. However, modifications for pilots usually pose an addition challenge - these aircraft must be available to facilitate training for the pilots prior to deployment. As preparation for the upcoming deployment to Iraq, AH-64D Apaches in 4th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade are going through an extensive modification process that involve a great deal of coordination between the military and civilian contractors performing the modifications. The modifications vary in their role for the Apaches:
On 16 March, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, began port operations in final preparation for their upcoming deployment in support of OPERATION Iraqi Freedom - IV. AH-64D Apache attack helicopters of the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division were the first units to depart for the port of Beaumont, TX. As in one massive air assault, the Apaches and Black Hawks arrived in formation and landed to fill the shipping docks at the Port of Beaumont.
Following final inspection, they will be loaded for transport to Kuwait. This
is the last stage of equipment preparation for the Air Cavalry Brigade before
taking their deployment step overseas. The inspected aircraft are turned over
to contractors who breaks down each helicopter into shippable disassemblies,
carefully packs and loads each onto the transport vessel destined for the port
of Ash Shuabyah, just 20 miles south of Kuwait City, Kuwait.
On 25 March, the threatening sprinkles of rain and clouds that hovered over Cooper Field in ominous circumstances could not deter the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade from holding their color casing ceremony as a closing event of their final preparations for their upcoming deployment in support of OPERATION Iraq Freedom - IV.
Spectators were treated to the colorful horse detachment's pageantry of the historical "cavalry charge" which coincided with the modern flyover of AH-64D Apache and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. They also had the opportunity see the time honored tradition of casing the unit's colors, an event marked by tradition, honor, respect and sacrifice. Adding the ceremony also symbolized the very soul of the 1st ACB. The Colors of the brigade will not be unfurled until the 1st ACB reaches Iraq and assumes authority for operations.
The Air Cavalry Brigade, in undertaking their third deployment since 2004, preparers to join the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th Brigade Combat Teams of the 1st Cavalry Division who are already "in theater". The Brigade's Soldiers started on their road to deployment nearly a year ago with detailed preparation, realistic training along with an aggressive team building program, that included rotations to combat training centers, establishing an air-ground integration program for the division, multiple gunneries, hurricane relief operations, resetting and retrofitting the entire aircraft fleet and an extensive training exercise at Fort Rucker, AL.
Though the training and preparation was important in preparing for overseas deployment, it was essential to build a team with chemistry and mental toughness through high standards and discipline. The situation in Iraq is still critical and troops are still experiencing violence that represents a dangerous and critical time for the brigade to transition responsibility for security to the Iraqi government. Some may call this effort peacekeeping or peacemaking or peace enforcement, but carrying out those responsibilities is still work for the brigade. The soldiers will enter a different, challenging and dangerous environment but they are up to the challenge.
On 31 March, the 1st Cavalry Division officials addressed soldiers and family members during the division's first town hall meeting night, tackling topics from deployment lengths to recreation facilities for deployed soldiers. The meeting was led by Lt. Col. (promotable) Jeffrey Sauer, the division's rear detachment commander, at Ft. Hood while Major General Daniel Bolger and Command Sgt. Major Rory Malloy gave updates and answered questions live from Baghdad, Iraq.
During the meeting, it was confirmed that the 4th Brigade Combat Team is scheduled to come home in June, 12 months after they soldiers left Ft. Hood and block leave for the brigade's soldiers will begin 20 June. None of the soldiers, currently in Iraq, will be sent to Afghanistan to complete their deployments that are currently scheduled for 12 months.
The information officers did provide some information about the organization of the Division throughout Iraq. The Special Troops Battalion and 1st Brigade Combat Team are in the capital where the Division serves as head of Multinational Division-Baghdad. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team is in Kirkuk, the 3rd Brigade Combat Team is in Mosul, and the 4th Brigade Combat Team is located in the southeastern part of Iraq.
The Special Troops Battalion and 1st Brigade are the only two 1st Cavalry
units in Multinational Division-Baghdad. The 2nd and 3rd Brigades are
operating under the control of the 25th Infantry Division, and the 4th Brigade
reports to the 10th Mountain Division with over half the units located on
small patrol bases, combat outposts or joint security stations.
On 20 April, the first flights of 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Soldiers, the last brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division to deploy, left Robert Gray Airfield for Iraq this week amid a cheering crowd of family members and friends. More than 250 Soldiers were in the "Torch" or advance party of the brigade. The advanced party includes the lead elements of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion who will be in charge of the port operations of helicopter assembly, test and inspection in Kuwait.
Four of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade five battalions, based in Taji and one operating out of Tallil will replace the Combat Aviation Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, which is scheduled to return in early summer. Their mission is to support ground maneuver brigades, something in which the troopers are well trained
Although training and orientation was given top priority which consumed the majority of the pre-deployment activities of the brigade, they were able to spend some time with their family members before deploying, thanks to the leadership at Ft. Hood and the brigade. Before previous deployments, soldiers were working around the clock right up until they departed for Iraq. This time leaders ensured everything got done on a pre-determined, time-lined schedule so soldiers could spend their last weeks states side with their families.
On 24 April, Friday, more than 350 Soldiers from every battalion deployed, This echelon of troops were followed by more than 300 from the 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment and the balance of the 615th Aviation Support Battalion who left on Saturday, the 25th. More than 350 soldiers from the Brigade's 3rd and 4th Aviation regiments and 615th Aviation Support Battalion departed Ft. Hood for Iraq on the 28th Additional deployment flights for the Brigade will continue through the end of April.
On 01 May, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division closed out its departure schedule for the Middle East. Among the 160 to leave early that morning were Zack Owen and Jim Cody, radio DJs for the country-music station Waco 100. This is the second trip to Iraq for Owen and Cody, who will broadcast their morning radio show for 10 days, featuring 1st Cavalry Division along with other Fort Hood soldiers in Iraq.
The pair made a similar trip more than a year ago when they spent time in Baghdad featuring 4th Infantry Division soldiers on their morning radio program, "The Zack and Jim Show." The two left Fort Hood Friday wearing 4th Infantry combat patches on their Army Combat Uniforms. The show will be broadcast from 600 hours to 1000 hours on 99.9 FM through late next week.
Now, with the deployment of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, the barrack areas and training areas of the 1st Cavalry Division are quiet, with the exception of the echoes of prior departure ceremonies and sober activities of the Rear Detachment of the Division. The main goal of the Rear Detachment, at this period of the deployments, is to prepare soldiers and their families for the long separation. That effort includes everything from making sure the soldiers have completed last-minute training to organizing the farewells and flights out.
The rear detachment wants the departure of the soldiers from Ft. Hood and the arrival in theater to be as effortless and painless as possible. Part of that process begins at the West Fort Hood Gym as soldiers and their Division Families say their final goodbyes and continues through a communications link maintained throughout and between the battle zones of Iraq.
However, Ft. Hood will not remain quiet for long as on 23 April, it was announced that the 4th Brigade Combat Team, located at Contingency Operating Base, Adder, near Nasiriyah, Iraq, following its year-long tour in Iraq. will begin re-deployment to Ft. Hood in late May. The versatility of the Rear Detachment will stretched to convert the operation into an all-out homecoming mode.
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