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Iraqi Drawdown

4th BCT "Torch Party" Homecoming
  
On 04 May 2009, the "Torch Party" of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division composed of 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Troopers, returned from Iraq to hundreds of cheering family members, fellow Soldiers and other guests at a welcoming home ceremony in front of the Division headquarters.

The torch party is sent back earlier than the rest of the unit to help set up operations for their unit when it starts to deploy in its entirety. Flights for the 4th BCT Soldiers are scheduled to go on for the next several weeks, bringing the rest of the brigade back to Ft. Hood, TX.

On 10 May, 2009 the second group of more than 300 Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team came home to Ft. Hood after spending 15 months being deployed in Iraq. Arriving on Mother's Day, they gave out flowers to their mothers, wives, grandmothers and other special women in their lives.

"Longknives" Uncase Brigade's Colors
  
On 06 August, the commander of the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Colonel Philip Battaglia, relinquished responsibility of his unit to the newest commander of the brigade, Colonel Brian Winski, who comes to the unit from Fort Campbell, KY.

The Long Knife Brigade had returned to Ft. Hood, TX in June after serving a year long deployment in the tri-province region of southern Iraq. The six battalions of the Brigade uncased their unit colors during the ceremony to signify their return to garrison operations.

During the ceremony, four more of the battalions of the brigade also changed commanders, completing the changes of command this summer. Lt. Col. Daryle Hernandez, the outgoing commander of 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, changed commands with Lt. Col. John M. Cushing; Lt. Col. Mark Simerly, 27th Brigade Support Battalion, changed with Lt. Col. William Gilbraith; Lt. Col. Tim Norton, 4th Special Troops Battalion, changed with Lt. Col. Eric Land; and Lt. Col. Tim Daugherty, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, changed commands with Lt. Col. Robert Magee.

Previously on July 23, Lt. Col. Edward Bohnemann, 2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and Lt. Col Scott Kendrick, 2nd Battalion 12th Cavalry Regiment, had commands with Lt. Col. Andy Boston and Lt. Col Joseph Holland.

On 08 October, a Defense Department news release announced that the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division are among units that will deploy to Iraq next summer as part of annual troop rotations there. The deploying units will serve 12-month tours. In addition, the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters will be extended for up to an additional 23 days, and elements of the II Marine Expeditionary Force will be extended for up to an additional 79 days.

The extensions will ensure that key capabilities are maintained following Iraqi national elections in January and provide support for redeployment of remaining Marines and their equipment. The number of troops involved in the movement will total about 15,000 servicemembers. The units will replace redeploying units, with no increase in overall force levels.

The news release also indicated that current plans are to maintain US. force levels in Iraq between 110,000 and 120,000 troops for the two months after the January election, but ahead of a massive US force reduction expected before next fall.

"Greywolf" Spouses Earn Their Spurs
  
On 29 October, in preparation for the return of the 3rd Brigade, more than 70 "Greywolf" spouses got together and earned their "spurs"s as well during 3rd BCT-hosted "Spouses' Spur Ride." Throughout the year their loved ones were deployed, the Family Readiness Support assistance held many different events for their Family members, but they wanted to make one of the last events for only the spouses so that teamwork would be built amongst 3rd Brigade spouses.

Although the spouses' spur ride is a scaled-down version of an actually spur ride their Soldiers would go through, the spouses received a chance to get a small taste of what their Soldiers do. The rear detachment cadre put the spur candidates through a rifle simulator where they had to engage enemy targets, and they had a chance to drive tank and Bradley Fighting Vehicles through simulation. Yet, for their land navigation, they had to do what Soldiers would do to find points on a map. They completed the spur ride with an obstacle course which included a grenade toss, low-crawling station and a litter carry, and some playful hazing by rear detachment brigade commander.

For most of the spouses, the best part of the spur ride aside from the camaraderie was the new sense of appreciation they had for their Soldiers. For their efforts, the rear detachment command presented the candidates with a set of spur lapel pin and a certificate as a symbol of their commitment and hardships they have endured while their Soldier was deployed.

On 10 November, an advanced party (Greywolf Advon 1) of 300 personnel from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division was the first group of Soldiers from the Division to return after deployment for a year in Mosul, Iraq. Their friends and families were patiently waiting and then, almost on cue, the white buses arrived from the airport, full of Grey Wolf Troopers. The Soldiers filed quickly filed out and fell into formation. The music stops. The crowd grows quiet. An officer says a quick prayer and then calls out the command the families have long awaited:

And it's pandemonium. The families rush the field, the soldiers rush the bleachers: It's a mad dash to find your loved one in a sea of camouflage.

0n 18 November, the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division "Long Knives" received word of a future deployment to Iraq less than a month ago, but the brigade has been focused on preparing for such news since returning from Iraq in the summer of 2010. A revised training plan has been issued that involves both individual and collective training at Fort Hood, and next May at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, LA. But before soldiers are able to train, the unit must receive new equipment, and return old equipment that is either obsolete or no longer serviceable during a process the Army refers to as "reset."

Their inventory will be expanded to include new items they didn't have before from the last time deployed along with modernized items. The upcoming deployment will be much enhanced by the latest equipment upgrades. The re-set process not only provides the Long Knife Brigade with the latest equipment upgrades, but also saves the Army time by cutting out the middle function of supply services. These inventories will be used for training and for deployment, and the support here from the 4th Brigade has been excellent.

The 3rd BCT Color Uncasing Ceremony
  
On 15 December, the - 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division held an uncasing ceremony in front of the brigade's headquarters to signify that the brigade has resumed its command on Fort Hood. Each of the battalions that were assigned to 3rd HBCT stood in a formation behind the brigade's colors as they were in unison. Soldiers, Families and friends of Soldiers attended the ceremony and expressed feelings of relief and pride in what the unit accomplished while deployed.

The brigade cleared, controlled and conducted detainee operations in Mosul and the surrounding support zones, moved out of the cities on 30 June and continued full spectrum operations in the outlying areas of the province. The unit then assumed responsibility for interdicting foreign fighters and lethal aid crossing the Syrian/Iraqi border, defined and tore apart a threat finance network that supported the insurgency throughout Iraq, and dealt with the complex issues associated with Arab/Kurd relations.

In addition to the culmination of the brigade's redeployment, this ceremony also signified another reward, a much deserved end-of-tour break.

Last Flight of The 2nd BCT Arrives
  
On 26 December, the last flight of 2nd Brigade Combat Team Members, 1st Cavalry Division members, arriving from Iraq, missed Christmas by a couple of hours, however not one Soldier or family member seemed to care as they walked across Cooper Field, most donning Santa Claus hats.

The 200 Soldiers on the morning flight were the last of the "Black Jack" Soldiers deployed to northern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Among the passengers were the last group of the brigade leaders. Many of the families spent a good portion of Christmas day either on the road or in a local hotel room waiting on the flight to arrive.

During the rush to find family members and friends, some people get lost in the scramble for a few minutes. But many knew exactly how and where to meet on the divisionís parade field, where the welcome home ceremonies are held.

The Division Uncases Its Colors
  
0n 14 January, the last flight of the Soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters Soldiers to arrive home from their Iraq deployment touched down on Robert Gray Army Airfield despite worries of dense fog ruining their homecoming. The group, consisting of nearly 300 Soldiers had completed a 12-month deployment that started last January when they took over what was Multi-National Division - Baghdad, in Iraq.

During the deployment, the Division oversaw the Iraqi military and police forces as they took control of security throughout the country. By the end of their time in Iraq, Soldiers were serving in more of an overwatch capacity. As the last soldiers gathered at the homecoming ceremony to greet their family and friends, the Colors of the 1st Cavalry Division were uncased, signifying their return from the combat operations.

With the return of its Division Headquarters Group, the division will start its re-integration training at Fort Hood, which includes a series of personnel administration and medical stations before the bulk of them go on an end-of-tour vacation.

The 1st "Ironhorse" BCT Uncases Its Colors
  
On 29 January, a group of 270 soldiers from the "Ironhorse" Brigade Combat Team returned home to Cooper Field, their family members and their loved ones after a 12 month tour of duty in support of Iraqi Freedom in Iraq. In the late hours of the gloomy, rainy afternoon, they uncased their unit colors, signifying the units return from battle.

At the end of the ceremony, the soldiers broke rank and it was an easy task for them to make it across the illuminated, soggy field to meet up with their loved ones. It is doubtful that anyone recognized that it was raining on their celebration.

The return rotation of the 1st Cavalry was "lumpy" due to the modification of the Defense Department regulations that reduced the "in-theater" duty times from 15 months tours, as applied to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, to 12 months which then applied to the balance of the Units to be deployed. Additionally, the deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division Headquarters was be extended for an additional 23 days to accomodate the changeover to the 1st Armored Division. The unit redeployments to the Contential Unites States (CONUS) have been accomplished over the following timespan.

COMBAT BRIGADE TORCH PARTY TRAIL PARTY
1BCT Ironhorse 31 December, 2009 03 February, 2010
2BCT Black Jack 25 November, 2009 26 December 2009
3BCT GreyWolf 13 November, 2009 15 December, 2009
4BCT LongKnives 04 May, 2009 11 June, 2009
ACCT Warriors 17 March, 2010 08 May, 2010
DSTB Mavrick 15 December, 2009 22 January, 2010
HHC, 1st Cavalry Division   14 January, 2010

About 16,000 1st Cavalry soldiers have returned from Operation IRAQ - VI (Rotation 08-10). The 4th Brigade Combat Team returned last summer and is already preparing for a late-summer deployment to Iraq. The 3rd Brigade Combat Team started its return to Fort Hood in mid-November, followed by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, Division Special Troops Battalion and 1st Brigade. The final group of 100 1st Cavalry ground troops arrived at Fort Hood on 03 February. The 1st Air Cavalry Combat Brigade, currently stationed in Camp Taji, Iraq and attached to the 1st Armored Division will not begin their deployment from their tour until March, 2010.

The 1st Division Rededicates OPERATION Iraqi Freedom Memorial
  

On 12 March, remembering all those who had given the fullest honor of service to their country, all in attendance rose and rendered proper respect to the Colors carried by the Honor Guard as they entered the 1st Cavalry Division OPERATION Iraqi Freedom Memorial for the Rededication Ceremony. More than 700 names line the black granite walls of the Iraq war memorial of the 1st Cavalry Division. Of those, 169 fell while serving with the 1st Cavalry-led Multinational Division-Baghdad from 2004 through 2005, 492 fell during the 2006 to 2008 surge years and 69 fell during the latest Iraq deployment of the Division from late 2008 to early 2010.

The ceremony, held at Cooper Field, Ft. Hood, TX, was to remember and honor the 69 Soldiers, and civilians whose names were added to the walls of the memorial. Soldiers, families and other loved ones gathered to honor those men and women. As the memorial was rededicated in their honor, each name of the latest 69 was read aloud and a bell sounded in their honor. In closing, Major General Daniel Bolger, 1st Cavalry Division Commander, reminded all in attendance - "that as memories fade, and one day when this memorial has been turned to dust, the sacrifice of these brave men and women will still reign true."

4th Brigade Units Initiates Training
  
On 12 March, and within weeks of an approaching field training exercise in preparation for this year's upcoming deployment, troops assigned to the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division conducted humvee training at the Blackwell Multi-Use Range. The essential goal for the 4th BSTB field training exercise was familiarization and qualification of each Soldier on the tactical weapons systems of his assigned to gain confidence in its equipment and enabling them to use overwhelming fire power to suppress the enemy.

The humvees are equipped with either a M2 .50 caliber machine gun, M240B machine gun or the M249 Squad Automatic Weapons to engage targets out to 600 meters and complete the mission. Depending on the engagement, troops expended as many as 800 rounds. Although a number of the Spartan Soldiers have had previous gunnery training, for some of the Soldiers, this was the first time they fired a weapon from a vehicle making the training as realistic as possible with what they might experience in the field.

Building Engineering Flexibility
  
Also on 12 March, there was a day of mixed emotions, as two existing engineering units furled their guidons for the last time and merged together to form the new engineer backbone for 2nd Brigade Combat Team. The new engineer company, "C" Company, 2nd Special Troops Battalion, 2nd BCT, was formed from the merger of two engineer companies from separate battalions.

The nickname of the company has been designated "Derecho," a destructive wind, is new. The benefit of combining the two companies is in centralizing this critical, low-density asset to allow the brigade commander to more easily prioritize and focus engineer efforts.

This concept of centralizing critical engineering skills within the Brigades has previously been incorporated in the 4th Combat Brigade and will soon be incorporated in the 1st and 3rd Combat Brigades.

On 17 March, the advanced group of The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division began its return to Fort Hood as 150 soldiers were welcomed back from Iraq at Cooper Field. Soldiers from across the brigade made up the advance party that will prepare for the rest of the brigade's arrival next month.

Flights for the balance of the troops will start in mid-April and it will take about two weeks to bring all of the brigade back from Iraq. Beginning last 02 June, while in Iraq, the brigade replaced the Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Camp Taji, Iraq. It was the second time the Fort Hood based units exchanged places at Camp Taji.

The Division's ground troops - the 1st, 2nd, 3rd Brigade Combat Teams and Special Troops Battalion previously had returned from Iraq from November to February. The 4th Brigade Combat Team returned last summer and is preparing for a late-summer deployment to Iraq.

1st Cavalry Welcomes New Leader
  
On 08 April, The 1st Cavalry Division welcomed a new commander Thursday morning as Major General (promotable) Daniel P. Bolger relinquished command to Major General Daniel B. Allyn. Allyn comes to Ft. Hood after serving as deputy commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps. The 3rd Infantry Division, 10th Mountain Division, 82nd Airborne Division and 101st Airborne Division fall under the Corps. Allyn spent time this year in Haiti, where he served as second in command of US operations there.

Allyn has performed with skill, imagination, resourcefulness and determination, said General Charles C. Campbell, who leads US Forces Command. Campbell praised Bolger's leadership in the division, which began in February 2008. Iraq is a markedly different place than it was more than a year ago, largely because of the 1st Cavalry, he said.

Bolger, who commanded the 1st Cavalry-led Multinational Division-Baghdad in Iraq from late 2008 to early 2010, and returned to Fort Hood in mid-January, indicated that Allyn was a "smart, tough combat veteran" who was "exactly the right Army leader for the famous 1st Cavalry Division." Bolger will soon move to Washington, where he is set to receive his third star and take over as the Army's deputy chief of staff for operations. He is set to replace Lt. General (promotable) James Thurman, a former 4th Infantry Division commander. Thurman is set to receive his fourth star and lead US Forces Command.

1st ACB Uncases Colors
  
On 19 April, surrounded by the formation of returning Brigade Troops and the 1st Cavalry Division Honor Guard, the Commander of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade uncased the Colors of the Brigade at a homecoming ceremony at Cooper Field.

As volcanic ash from Iceland left air travelers all over the world stranded, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade command team successfully navigated around the crisis to return home from Iraq and uncase the unit colors at Ft, Hood, TX. The brigade had been thwarted by the volcano, causing numerous flight delays, as the 1st ACB sought to return all its Soldiers home, following a year-long deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In the presence of Major Gen. Daniel Allyn, the new Division Commander, 1st Cavalry Division, and hundreds of cheering spectators, Colonel Douglas Gabram, commander, 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division, unraveled the brigade's colors, and said it was a relief to return. "It's great to be back ... it was a long trip because of the volcano issues and we got caught up in that resulting in a 24 to 48 hour delay," "Everybody knew they were heading (home) so they took it well and we're here."

Any frustration from the delay disappeared once the plane landed and the Soldiers on the flight headed to Cooper Field. For most of the Soldiers this was their second, third or even fourth deployment, so the expectations were realistic and everyone was fired up when the plane landed.

"The deployment went great ... the team flew over 68,000 hours and we bought all our aircraft and air crew members home safely," he continued. "We were fortunate to work with two division headquarters, 12 (brigade combat teams) on the ground and also form a special relationship with the Iraqi Air Force, which was a first."

On 18 August troops of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, passed into Kuwait, will then return to the United States over the next few days. As the 4th Stryker Brigade's convoy reached the barbed wire at the border crossing out of Iraq on Wednesday, the soldiers whooped and cheered. Then they scrambled out of their stifling hot armored vehicles, unfurled an American flag and posed for group photos.

Before the Aug. 31 deadline, about half the brigade's 4,000 soldiers flew out like most of the others leaving Iraq, but its leadership volunteered to have the remainder depart overland. That decision allowed the unit to keep 360 Strykers in the country for an extra three weeks.

On 31 August, President Obama met with soldiers of Ft. Bliss, TX and later from the Presidential Oval Office he announced that the end of Combat Missions (OPERATION Iraqi Freedom was over with nearly 100,000 troops removed form the Iraq, leaving a balance of approximately 50,000 remaining to support the continued training and support of the internal policing which will become the responsibility of the Iraqi Government.


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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 Jan '13 SpellChecked