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Iraqi - Operation New Dawn

Operation NEW DAWN - Iraq
01 September, 2010 marked the official end to Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and combat operations by United States forces in Iraq. In The transition to Operation NEW DAWN, the remaining 50,000 US servicemembers serving in Iraq will conduct stability operations, focusing on advising, assisting and training Iraqi Security Forces (ISF). Operation NEW DAWN, a compromise of the Republican and Democrat Parties to vacate the Iraqi operation by mid 2010, also represents a shift from a predominantly military US presence to one that is predominantly civilian, as the Departments of Defense and State work together with governmental and non-governmental agencies to help build civil capacity of Iraq.

The transition to Operation NEW DAWN is the US commitment to the government and people of Iraq as a sovereign, stable country that will be an enduring strategic partner with the United States. This has been made possible by the improved capability of the ISF to take the lead in securing their country. New Dawn also signifies the success of the responsible drawdown of forces and the redeployment of thousands of US Soldiers, as well as the return or transfer of war fighting equipment to the US or to combat troops in Afghanistan.>

To support the transition to stability operations, the Army has six Advisory and Assistance Brigades (AABs) in Iraq. AABs are designed to partner with ISF and are tailored for the needs of the specific location in which they will operate. They provide security for Provincial Reconstruction Teams and have up to 24 specialty teams which enable them to conduct advisory, security, and training missions, as well as the development of civil capacity. ABs are structured around the modular design of brigade combat teams but are trained for stability operations, rather than for combat. However, under the security agreement they retain the inherent right to self-defense and are authorized to take necessary action to prevent terrorist activities in order to protect themselves or the people of Iraq.

For the foreseeable future, US forces will maintain a force strength of 50,000 (the strength of US forces currently in Japan) as it conducts stability operations and partnered counter-terrorism operations in Iraq. In accordance with the security agreement, US forces (in the role of combat operations) are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Despite the change in mission, USF-I remains committed to the Iraqi people and will continue to support efforts to build civil capacity throughout Iraq.

4th Combat Brigade Cases Colors
On 01 September, in a symbolic ceremony that took place for the 4th Combat Team of the 1st Calvary Division as they held their colors casing ceremony at Fort Hood for an historic mission that will start as they leave this month in support of Operation NEW DAWN.The 4th Brigade will be the first unit of the 1st Cavalry Division to leave specifically in support of the new mission.

The ceremony was filled with the traditions of the 1st Calvary Division, including soldiers on horses, their historic band, and multiple cannon fire. At the ceremony, the 4th Brigade introduced the Stability Transition Team. The new unit is made up of special forces and green berets. As the soldiers of the 4th Brigade marched off the field, the band played the Army song. The 4th Brigade will once again go marching along, back into Iraq, for what they believe will be the final time.

In their new mission, the 4th Brigade will no longer combatants, they will be now advising. Leaving to support Operation NEW DAWN, with a plan to come home with the sun shining brightly on Iraqi freedom. The Long Knife Brigade will uncase their colors when they get to Iraq, and begin supporting the Iraqi leadership and forces.

The unit consisting of 100 soldiers has gone through specialized training to take charge in making sure over the next year and a half, Iraqi military and police leaders are prepared to lead the country's security without US back-up to bail them out.In the meantime, the 4th Brigade will focus on providing support in Northern Iraq as well, in places like Mosul, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and along the northern Syrian border.

4th CBT Port Inspection Operations
On September 18, with their new mission of Operation New Dawn underway, Soldiers assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have a few more items to finalize to ensure they are mission ready. Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry Regiment, staged vehicles, inventoried containers and prepared for the brigade's equipment movement north from the southern port at Kuwait City, Kuwait, to Iraq.

With their new advise and assist mission, it is crucial for Soldiers to have their equipment in Iraq on time. The operation not only oversaw the specialized weapon platform equipment essential to support the Combat Team, but it also included supplies critical for maintaining and sustaining the combat platforms. Soldiers rotated shifts and worked through the night to guarantee their fellow Soldiers would have mission essential equipment ready for Iraq. Without the Brigade being properly equipped and ready to take on any mission, it forces units to have to do a lot more with fewer tools, which leads to individual stress. By being involved in pushing the equipment forward, it alleviates those worries.

With the equipment of the brigade en route to Iraq, troopers now stand one step closer to beginning their mission of helping the Iraqi nation become self-reliant and providing for their own security. Brigade port operations is an important transition that began in 2003, By ensuring that the efforts in the last seven years finish successfully, defending this nation against external threats.

4th CBT Prepares to Head North
Troopers from 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, maintained their combat readiness with training classes at Camp Buehring, located in the desert of Kuwait, prior to their deployment north into Iraq in the coming weeks. Long Knife brigade Soldiers will be the first brigade combat team from the Division to deploy in support of Operation NEW DAWN

A unit consisting of 100 soldiers has gone through specialized training to take charge in making sure over the next year and a half, Iraqi military and police leaders are prepared to lead the country's security without US back-up to bail them out.In the meantime, the 4th Brigade will focus on providing support in Northern Iraq as well, in places like Mosul, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and along the northern Syrian border.

On September 20, soldiers assigned to 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, conducted final checks of their Bradley fighting vehicles weapon systems, prior to moving into Iraq later this month. In crews of three; consisting of a driver, a gunner, and a Bradley commander, troopers drove for over two hours to get to the range where their training would begin.

The unit consisting of 100 soldiers has gone through specialized training to take charge in making sure over the next year and a half, Iraqi military and police leaders are prepared to lead the country's security without US back-up to bail them out.In the meantime, the 4th Brigade will focus on providing support in Northern Iraq as well, in places like Mosul, Nineveh, Kirkuk, and along the northern Syrian border.

Soldiers positively indentified exactly what types of targets were down range and used the on-board computer to aim and engage them with the appropriate type of weapon system. While much of the work reconfirmed training that the Head Hunters conducted prior to their deployment, troopers worked on their communication skills to ensure they will be ready to assist their Iraqi counterparts if needed during their deployment in support of Operation NEW DAWN.

The training that started in the daylight soon proceeded into the night hours, but through communication and confirmed shots, Soldiers ended the day with more knowledge of and confidence in their weapons systems.

The Soldiers participated in weapon certification ranges, combat life-saving classes, humvee egress assistance training and counter improvised explosive device classes to refresh the skills they acquired during brigade field training exercises and at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) in Fort Polk, LA.

The Soldiers will continue their refresher classes and training prior to their movement to northern Iraq for their scheduled deployment.

4th Combat Brigade Uncases Colors
18 Oct 2010. after being in Iraq for nearly a month, the 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, officially uncased its colors and took part in a colorful transfer of authority ceremony to assume authority in Ninewa Provincial Contingency Operating Site at Marez, Iraq.

The ceremony officially recognizes the Long Knife brigade assuming authority for advising, assisting, and training Iraqi counterparts in Ninewa Province and Mosul, in northern Iraq.

Accepting responsibility for the mission from the 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Long Knife Soldiers will now be working directly with their Iraqi counterparts in support of Operation NEW DAWN.

The transfer of authority (TOA) gives the 4th Brigade a chance to thank the Spartan brigade for the hard work done over the last year and a chance for them to show our Iraqi counterparts here to continue to assist them with their security training. In their role as an AAB, Soldiers of the 4th AAB will conduct combined patrols, assist at checkpoints and train the ISF, who are in the lead for all operations.

The focus of the effort of the 4th Brigade is to advise, train, and assist Iraqi Security Forces marking what will amount to be the close out of efforts over the last seven years. Each commander spoke during the ceremony with the commander of the redeploying Spartan brigade, Col. Charles Sexton, welcoming the Long Knife brigade and wishing them luck on their journey to helping Iraq achieve independence.

Grey Wolf Troopers Case Their Colors
On 21 January, 2011, a new mission in a new location began for the Greywolf Troopers as the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division cased its unit colors Friday on the Cooper Field. The event marked the most recent of many milestones for the brigade.

Upon casing the colors, the Greywolf troopers became members of the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, Task Force Vigilant in preparation for their fourth deployment to Iraq in the coming weeks. In addition, the brigade formally activated three Stability Transition Teams, comprised of 45 field-grade officers to assist with the new mission in Iraq. The three teams, each led by a lieutenant colonel, will train, mentor and assist, as necessary, their Iraqi counterparts.

Stability Transition Teams are just one of the new aspects of this deployment for Greywolf. Although this will be the fourth deployment to Iraq for the Brigade, the mission has changed drastically since the formal end of combat operations in September 2010 and the transition to Operation NEW DAWN. This time, Greywolf troopers will be assisting and advising Iraqi Security Forces in southern Iraq. Though the mission has changed to one of support, there are still dangers.

The troopers trained as they have for previous deployments, but with the additional focus on cultural awareness, a nod to the improved conditions in Iraq. Through US efforts over the past seven years, conditions are now such that Iraqi capability and capacity have finally reached a point where a transition from military-led operations,

Upon their arrival in Iraq, the Greywolf brigade will assume responsibility for Iraq’s four southernmost provinces and portions of the country’s borders with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran in partnership with two Iraqi army divisions, a division of border enforcement, four provincial chiefs of police and more than 50 local and regional police stations, The brigade also will be tasked with dissolving four Provincial Reconstruction Teams and assisting with the stand-up of a US Consulate in Basra.

3rd AAB TOA Ceremony With 4th ID
On 12 March, the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division uncased the brigade's colors at a transfer of authority ceremony. The Greywolf Brigade assumed authority of the Muthanna, Dhi Qar, Maysan and Basrah Provinces of United States Division - South from the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade., 4th Infantry Division of Fort Carson, CO. The 3rd Advise and Consent Brigade will be one of the final units to operate in Iraq as the US forces continue to draw down.

The ceremony signifies the conclusion of one deployment as well as the arrival and assumption of another unit's deployment. This marked the fourth deployment in Iraq for the Greywolf Brigade. They served in OIF II in 2004, OIF 06-07 in 2006 and OIF 09-10 in 2008. In 2008, the Greywolf Brigade was responsible for the Ninawa Province in northern Iraq. The brigade conducted operations to improve security, stimulate economic growth and create enduring stability. They transitioned security primacy within Mosul and Tal Afar to the Iraqi Security Forces.

6/9th Cavalry Regt Receive Combat Patches
On 11 April the Soldiers of Troop "C", 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade (AAB), 1st Infantry Division, United States Division - Center found that unpredictable events lead to unique opportunities to be true as they received their 1st Cavalry Division combat patches from Col. Douglas Crissman, commander of the 3rd AAB, 1st Cavalry Division.

The day prior, members of 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry. Regiment. received their combat patches from Col. Paul Calvert, commander of the 2nd AAB, 1st Infantry Division, USD-C; the commander of the brigade that currently has tactical control of Saber Squadron in Iraq. However, most of Troop "C" could not attend this ceremony as they were called to conduct a mission in support of Operation NEW DAWN. Likewise, Col. Crissman's arrival to Camp Liberty for a leader's conference was delayed by weather.

These circumstances allowed Col. Crissman to personally present Troop "C" Soldiers with their Cavalry combat patches signifying their current and future service during this deployment.

Saber Squadron troopers have been deployed in support of Operation NEW DAWN for nearly three months and is currently serving as the USF-I operational reserve in Baghdad. For many of the Soldiers receiving their 1st Cavalry Division patch, this is their first combat patch and deployment. This deployment marks the fourth deployment for "America's First Team" since the beginning of hostilities in 2003.

  1. During its first deployment, the Division witnessed national elections in 2005;
  2. served as an intricate part of the successful 'Surge' during its second deployment;
  3. oversaw the training and operational control of Coalition and Iraqi forces within the region in 2006;
  4. and assuming command of Multi - National Division Baghdad for Operation IRAQI FREEDOM from 2009 to 2010.

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UN Security Assistance Force Locationss
1st Cavalry Division Cases Colors

On 15 April, the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division cased their colors for deployment to Afghanistan. The casing of the colors is an Army tradition that symbolizes the movement of the Division. or one of its elements, to a new theater of operation. Surrounded by pomp and circumstance, the tradition and legacy of the 1st Cavalry Division was on display for all those in attendance. 1st Cavalry Soldiers, past and present, gathered to honor the Division colors and its Soldiers facing this current deployment.

The 800 soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion will spend the next year in Afghanistan and be the first elements from the 1st Cavalry Divisdion to serve there. In its deployment, the Division will head Regional Command East, which includes the provinces of Khost and Kunar.

With all of the deployments, this newest excursions allows America's First Team to not only apply the lessons learned from previous deployments to Baghdad, but also gives the division a new set of combat orders to learn in a new in theater command experience.

2nd Combat Brigade Cases Colors
Also on 15 April 2011, Soldiers and families of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, gathered on Cooper Field to watch as the Brigade prepared for its next deployment to Iraq, cased its colors during the 1st Cavalry Division's color casing ceremony.

The color casing is in preparation for the brigade's upcoming deployment to Iraq in support of Operation NEW DAWN. The Black Jack troopers of the 2nd Combat Brigade prepares to set forth and deploy on a truly historic mission, one that marks the beginning of another chapter in the legend of America's cavalry and one that will close out an important chapter in the history f Iraq.

But while the Soldiers of the brigade prepare to take on the challenges of the upcoming deployment, it wouldn't be possible without the support of the families and the intensive training ingrained in its troopers, the Black Jack Brigade has a lot to rely on.

In the upcoming weeks, Black Jack Soldiers will continue the hard work they have put in over the last sixteen months to ensure that every trooper and their family members are ready for whatever mission they may face.

OBL's Compound in Abbottabad, Pakista
On 01 May, President Obama announced that Osama Bin Laden, who had mastermind the 11 September, 2001, terrorist attacks, had been killed in a US firefight that was accomplished by tracking the terrorist leader to a compound near the Pakistani town of Abbottabad. In Operation NEPTUNE'S SPEAR, his movements had been monitored for months until a small team of US operatives, composed of the Navy SEALS Team Six, moved on the compound early Monday local time. Osama bin Laden was killed during a firefight that was launched from four stealth Sikorsky MH-60 Blackhawk helicopters, one of which reportedly had a mechanical failure and crashed into the compound during the early phases of the raid and was unable to lake off later. US forces later intentionally destroyed the helicopter to protect the identification or salvage of security equipment carried. The Seals immediately took custody of Osama bin Laden's body. An American official indicated that bin Laden's body had been transported from Pakiston to the USS Cal Vinson and quickly buried at sea in accordance with Islamic tradition that calls for a speedy interment of the body.

The President said, warning that the US must remain vigilant because al-Qaida will "continue to pursue attacks against us. It took many months to run this thread to ground, I met repeatedly with the national security team as more information developed about the possibility that he had been located, hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan," In closing, the President said. "Finally, last week, it was determined that there was enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice."

The order was given Friday morning, US officials said, shortly before the President left to tour tornado-raked areas in Alabama. Officials said the final operation, under the direction of CIA head Leon Panetta, was so secret that no foreign officials were informed and only a small circle in Washington was aware.

According to US officials who spoke to The Associated Press, four helicopters swooped in early Monday and killed bin Laden in a raid on the fortress-like compound in Abbottabad. The town north of the capital, Islamabad, is home to three army regiments and the Kakul Military Academy, an army officer training center. The location raised pointed questions of whether Pakistani authorities knew the whereabouts of the world's most wanted man.

Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel
All details of how the US government found and killed Osama Bin Laden will likely never be known, but reports this morning indicate the team of US Navy SEALS which ran the attack had a drone, the Lockheed Martin RQ-170 Sentinel, known as the "Beast of Kandahar."

The drone is a fighter-sized aircraft with a 65-foot wingspan whose existence has only been official since 2009, despite being used throughout the war in Afghanistan. Based in Nevada and a Kandahar airfield, where its nickname as "the beast of Kandahar" derives, The main assignment of the RQ-170 has been reconnaissance and surveillance for ground troops.

Given the location of Bin Laden's fortified compound, steps from a Pakistani military training center, the RQ-170 was likely the eyes and ears of the operation, streaming live feeds back to command centers. It's one video involving Bin Laden the world may never see.

The news released a decade's worth of emotion as Americans, cheering, waving flags and singing the national anthem, streamed to the site of the World Trade Center in New York City, the gates of the White House in Washington, D.C., and across the nation.

Security measures of all military installations across the country were increased in response to the President's announcement that Osama Bin Laden was killed in this weekend raid.

1st Air Cavalry Brigade Cases Colors
On 13 May, the second of the 1st Cavalry Division's units deploying to Afghanistan, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, cased its colors in a colorful ceremony at Cooper Field, Ft. Hood as flights carrying lead party soldiers to Afghanistan had started the first week of May. The 1st Air Cavalry will join the Division Headquarters in Afghanistan, the only two 1st Cavalry Division units deploying there this year. The 1st ACB will be in Afghanistan for the next year, replacing the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. The 4th CAB is also a Ft. Hood unit.

In anticipation of the mountainous terrain, extreme altitude and cold weather environments of the Afghanistan theater, the 1st ACB had spent the last three months training in the winter conditions near Ft. Carson, Colorado.

The two units will perform counter-insurgency operations, assist with reconstruction in the country, train and equip Afghan forces and work with Afghan officials and NATO forces to support the Afghan government. The air support of the Air Cavalry Brigade will be a valuable asset to the forces on the ground.

1st Cavalry TOA In Eastern Afghanistan
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Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

On 19 May, in continuing to expand its role in the mid-eastern theater of operations, the 1st Cavalry Division unfurled the unit's new colors during a transfer of authority ceremony on Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. During a pivotal time in the war on terror and in Afghanistan’s history, The command authority of the Regional Command East shifted from Combined Joint Task Force-101 to CJTF-1.

At a transfer of authority ceremony, the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) handed the reins of command over to the 1st Cavalry Division. Upon completion of the ceremony, Major General. Dan Allyn, 1st Cavalry Division Commander, took control of eight US, French and Polish task forces and 14 provinces that, combined, provide safety and security in an area populated by approximately 7.5 million Afghans. The Area of Command consists of 43,000 square miles and shares 450 miles of border with Pakistan.

Command Joint Task Force
United States Forces - Iraq

For the troopers of the division’s headquarters, this succession of authority marks a major point in history; it is their first deployment to Afghanistan. This isn't the first deployment of the Division in support of the war on terror. First Team Soldiers have deployed three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division will deploy this year and join 3rd and 4th BCTs in support of Operation New Dawn in Iraq. Additionally, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade will deploy to northern Afghanistan this summer.

This change in authority comes after a year of advancing security, governance and development for the people of Afghanistan by the 101st Airborne Division. The First Team East will continue to build on the hard-earned gains for which the 101st Airborne Division and the Afghan partners have so bravely fought. In addition to the 850 troopers from Ft. Hood, CJTF-1 now has a combined joint task force of more than 31,000 International Security Assistance Forces troops and civilian partners from nine different countries.

Comanche Troops Deploy To JSS Shield
From 22 to 27 May, Soldiers from Comanche Troop, 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade deployed to Joint Security Station Shield, in eastern Baghdad, Iraq to provide security for US military and civilian personnel assigned to the Iraq Training and Assistance Mission (ITAM) during civilian demonstrations planned for 26 May.

The Comanche Troopers arrived by helicopter in the late evening hours before staging at JSS Shield in order to provide reinforcements to the security contractors who already guard the base. JSS Shield lies in the shadow of the Iraqi Ministry of Interior building, and is home to the ITAM police headquarters and training facilities.

Upon arrival, Saber Troopers oriented themselves to the layout of JSS Shield, conducted coordination with force protection leaders, and prepared themselves to conduct security operations over the course of the week. As part of its mission to provide security for JSS Shield, "C" Troop stood in the path of nearly 25,000 Iraqi protestors throughout Sadr City and eastern Baghdad.

ITAM personnel, who provide training to Iraqi local and federal police elements, were able to assist Soldiers by providing riot control training. They also learned about the employment and capabilities of water cannons in civil unrest situations.

As the Saber Soldiers worked to secure JSS Shield, the resident Army and Air Force personnel ensured that troopers and leaders had everything needed for success. The JSS staff coordinated with "C" Troop to provide communications equipment, embedded Comanche's leadership into its state of the art surveillance center, and oversaw vital coordination with civilian security contractors. ITAM personnel also distributed care packages full of food and candy to Soldiers.

Even while staged as a quick reaction force, the troopers found time to enjoy the Morale, Welfare and Recreation facilities and movie theatre. Soldiers also rediscovered their love of Green Beans Coffee, which was conveniently collocated with Comanche's living quarters.

The 1st ACB Arrives In Afghanistan
On 01 June the first wave of Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade began streaming into Camp Marmal located in northern Afghanistan, setting the stage for the pending transfer of authority of US aviation operations in Regional Commands North and West from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade to the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (ACB). The Soldiers of the 1st ACB began preparation for this deployment last fall, with training that focused heavily on conditions and scenarios often encountered in Afghanistan.

Training ranged from aerial gunneries back at Ft. Hood to a three-month, high altitude training exercise near Fort Carson, CO. Once training was complete and combat readiness established, the focus turned to the families, who were enduring a short dwell time since the brigade returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom last year. The training efforts of the brigade supported a successful deployment for the 1st ACB.

Not surprisingly, after nearly a year away from their friends and family while supporting the Coalition's efforts in Afghanistan, 4th CAB Soldiers welcomed the arrival of their 1st ACB counterparts.The 4th CAB assisted 1st CAB throughout the transition. Everyone worked together get the 4th CAB back home and the 1st CAB soldiers settled in, enabling the mission execution.

The Critical Task of Mission Readiness
As the aircraft of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade began to roll into theater, the aircraft maintainers and maintenance test pilots of the brigade began to ensure that the aircraft are fully mission capable and are safe for the pilots who will take the machines into combat.

The process started as the first batch of helicopters began arriving in country last month. Depending on the aircraft the maintenance can be relatively simple, or in the case of the CH-47F Chinook helicopter, it can be a drawn out process that requires extensive time and effort. The rigging process helps to ensure the flight controls of the Chinook helicopter align correctly, so that the aircraft flies the way it was designed to

As for the maintainers, they each have military a occupation specialty that normally bind them to one specific airframe, whether that airframe is a CH-47F Chinook, UH-60L Black Hawk, or an AH-64D Apache. With a time crunch that is mission critical, the maintainers have taken a flexible approach to their tasking. They've come together as a team to assemble and perform scheduled and unscheduled aircraft maintenance regardless of airframe affiliation.

As the maintainers conclude their initial tasks, the baton is then passed to the maintenance test pilots, who take to the skies to ensure proper functionality of the aircraft prior to releasing the aircraft back to their assigned line units within the brigade.

On 07 June, the Special Troops Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team (Advise and Assist Brigade) uncased the colors of their battalion during a Transfer Of Authority ceremony held at Contingency Operating Base Warhorse, Iraq.

1st Brigade Combat Team Cases Colors
On 14 June, the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division's held the last ceremonial step in their preparation for deployment to Iraq. A color casing ceremony was held as the Brigade and its battalions furled their colors, They will soon depart Ft. Hood for an area south of Baghdad, Iraq, replacing the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment.

The "Ironhorse" Brigade will join the Division's 2nd, 3rd and 4th brigades in Iraq, where all are serving in advise-and-assist roles. The soldiers will serve in Iraq in a crucial time in history, and what they will do will have a major impact on the region and world. Though ceremonies like Thursday's seem routine, each is important and unique, because they represent the impending and immense sacrifice of the soldiers and their loved ones.

Later in June, the Brigade deployed an Advance Party to perform liaisons in place in Iraq, and preparing for the transition and the arrival of the "main body" of soldiers who have a planned departure date of 14 July with a destination of an area south of Baghdad, the current home of Ft. Hood's 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The brigade will assume command of the area on 15 August.

US Transfers Responsibility For COS Sykes
Also on 14 June, US forces officially transferred responsibility of Contingency Operating Site (COS) Sykes to Iraqi Security Forces, Soldiers assigned to "A" Battery, 5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, spent more than a month preparing the base for turnover to the 10th Brigade, 3rd Iraqi Army Division.

US forces have manned the base, located near Tal Afar, since the initial stages of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM in 2003. Once Operation IRAQI FREEDOM transitioned to Operation New Dawn, US Soldiers assumed an advisory and training role to help prepare Iraqi Security Forces, (ISF) to independently secure Iraq from threats.

Many of the Iraqi soldiers who assumed responsibility for operations at COS Sykes are graduates of Tadreeb al Shamil, an all-inclusive training program conducted with US forces at Ghuzlani Warrior Training Center earlier this year. These units are much more capable now that they have experienced a rotation here and they are more effective in their area of operations.

US forces reallocated the equipment through the Foreign Excess Personnel Property program, which is designed to identify and distribute eligible property items to the Iraqi government. Soldiers continue to transition FEPP items, such as housing units, office and power supplies, to help build capabilities of Iraqi Security Forces units during Operation New Dawn. All of the living quarters, maintenance bays and some other equipment necessary to run the day-to-day operations such as generators remained in place.

6th/9th Cavalry Transfer Of Authority
On 15 June, 2nd "Sabre" Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, US Division - South transferred authority of their operating environment in Wasit Province, Iraq to 6th "Saber" Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, US Division - South in a ceremony at Contingency Operating Base Delta.

The transfer of authority of Wasit Province from "Sabre" Squadron to "Saber" Squadron is just one of the many steps of the US Forces - Iraq's overall plan for the re-posturing of forces by the end of this year. The 2nd "Sabre" Squadron, 3rd ACR has spent the past nine months in Wasit Province conducting stability operations with the Iraqi Police and Army.

For 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, this is its second mission while deployed in support of Operation New Dawn. For the past four months, Saber Squadron operated out of Camp Liberty, to advise and assist the 4th Federal Police Division in the area surrounding Baghdad. However, 6th "Saber" Squadron, received orders to move to COB Delta and replace 2nd "Sabre" Squadron, a few weeks ago.

As they did in Baghdad with their ISF and 4th FP partners, "Saber" Squadron will once again advise, train, and assist the ISF units in Wasit Province. They look forward to working with the Iraqi Security Forces in Wasit Province in the coming months. Their mission is to provide all the necessary training and assistance that they need in order to provide the necessary security and safety that the Iraqi people deserve.

Rocket Attack At US Base KIlls Three
On 22 June, the fact that there is still warring parties in Iraq became evident as a rocket attack on a US base near the border of Iraq and Iran killed three American soldiers assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division

These deaths came at the end of the bloodiest month for US troops in Iraq in two years, and with just six months before the American military is scheduled to leave after more than eight years of war. The rocket attack on Wednesday struck a US base in southern Iraq that is located a few kilometers from the Iranian border. The type of weapons used in the attack bore the hallmarks of a Shiite militia with strong links to Iran.

American intelligence officials have long believed that the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades, is one of the only militias to use weapons known in military jargon as IRAMs, or improvised rocket-assisted mortars, against US troops. Kataib Hezbollahis solely focused on attacking US troops and other American personnel.

The US military is preparing to leave Iraq by the end of the year, as required by a 2008 security agreement between Baghdad and Washington. But as both governments now consider extending the deadline to have thousands of troops remain in Iraq into 2012 — in part to counter Iran’s influence over the unstable nation — at least three major Shiite militias have stepped up attacks on soldiers to force the military out.

4th ACB Conducts TOA With 1st ACB
On 01 July, the culmination of the training and preparation of the mission of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade - deployment and execution of combat operations in the rugged and mountainous terrain of Afghanistan, occurred during a colorful transfer of authority ceremony from the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division at Camp Normal, Afghanistan.

During the ceremony, the brigade uncased its colors and officially took charge of US aviation operations in Regional Command North, a role previously held by the outgoing unit, the 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division. The commander of the outgoing unit, Col. Daniel Williams, took the opportunity during the ceremony to reflect on the accomplishments attained by his unit during the past year in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The commander of the 1st ACB, Col. John Novalis, paying tribute to the unit his troops are relieving, thanked the Iron Eagles for their efforts during the past year and then assured those in attendance that his Soldiers were prepared for the task at hand.

The 1st ACB is the first brigade-sized element of the 1st Cavalry Division to deploy to Afghanistan, joining the Division Headquarters as the only other element of the division currently deployed in theater.

1st ACB Observes Combat Patch Ceremonies
On 04 July, while most Americans were watching fireworks, eating hot dogs and spending cherished time with their families, Soldiers stationed seven-thousand miles away from America's eastern seaboard celebrated Independence Day in their own special way.

Especially elated, were the Soldiers of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade who were christened as "First Team" combat veterans during the many combat patch ceremonies held in Afghanistan, approximately 235 years to the day America declared its independence from Great Britain.

Scattered throughout Afghanistan, each task force within the Air Cavalry Brigade took the time to commemorate Independence Day with a ceremony. As the soldiers stood in formation and the "cav patch" was placed on their right shoulders, a common sentiment of pride echoed throughout each individual ceremony.

For the troopers of the Division that fought in the south Pacific to those who are cxurrently serving in Afghanistan, the right to wear the Division's patch on their right shoulder sleeve comes as recognition of their service in a combat zone. The honor of receiving the 1st Cavalry Division's patch, which may be worn on their uniform, of any unit of the Army, links the wearer to the "First Team" members of the past, present and future.

Many of the 1st ACB soldiers had already seen combat with other units and were receiving the combat patch of the Division for the first time. For others, the occasion marked the first time in their careers that they would fashion a combat patch on their right shoulder sleeve.

1st ACB Conducts Rare Cargo Transport
On 06 July, Soldiers from the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division conducted a rare sling load operation utilizing a CH-47F Chinook helicopter to transport a Chinook helicopter from Camp Kunduz to Camp Marmal, Afghanistan for maintenance purposes.

Hovering over the airfield at Kunduz, the transporting Chinook helicopter gradually lowered. As a cloud of dust lifted, crew members stationed on top of the other helicopter stood ready to bond the two airframes together, setting the stage for the pending sling load to commence.

To ensure smooth and safe execution, the crew members went through vigorous preparation drills that acted out different scenarios that could possibly come about during the actual sling load procedure. The preparation drills paid great dividends in the end. Transporting the Chinook across the northern Afghan landscape required extensive pre-mission planning as well.

The sling-loaded Chinook with its aerodynamic structure could in essence deviate from the helicopter above and create its own flight path, an issue that would not arise during most other normal sling load operations.

Once the flight arrived at Marmal, crew members on the ground helped carefully guide the sling-loaded aircraft down toward its final landing spot. Upon completion of the cargo disengagement, the transporting helicopter took off amid another massive cloud of dust that had engulfed the area within the vicinity during its landing.

TF Lobos Conducts Joint Hoist Training
On 21 July, the 1st ACB and the German armed forces began conducting joint training exercises in an effort to solidify and complement mutual operational capabilities.

As part of this joint effort, Soldiers from the 1st ACB, 1st Cavalry Division conducted rescue hoist training with a German extrication team. The training rendered an opportunity for the extrication team to gain familiarization with the aircraft hoist as an alternative method for insertion into an area where a vehicle rollover could occur.

In the mountainous and rugged terrain found throughout austere areas of Afghanistan, insertion via aircraft hoist can be the only option for medical evacuation personnel or extrication teams. The extrication team members work gives an extra capability not otherwise available. Doused in sunlight, the extrication team members began the day with crew briefs, loaded up their equipment and took off in a Black Hawk medevac helicopter to the training site.

The ultimate goal was for the extrication teams to partner with the flight medics of Task Force Lobos by using specialized tools to assist patients who are stuck inside of a vehicle with no other means of extraction during medevac missions.

The training consisted of multiple iterations and a plethora of opportunities for the teams to practice rising and lowering with the aircraft hoist. The extrication teams also garnered experience dealing with the dusty conditions caused by the powerful rotor wash from the sweeping rotor blades of the Black Hawk helicopter.

Black Knights Train And Prepare For Patrols
On 30 July, Soldiers from 1st "Black Knights" Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, completed live-fire exercises with newly acquired vehicles at Memorial Range near Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq'

The Black Jack Brigade troops conducted a live-fire accuracy screening test using the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank, zeroed M2A3 Bradley Fighting Vehicle weapon systems and conducted transition fire from Mine-Resistant, Ambush-Protected vehicles.

Soldiers of "D" Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment kicked off the four-day exercise by conducting transition fire, a method of weapons training where Soldiers switch between a crew-served weapon, such as the M240B machine gun, and their personal weapon within a matter of seconds. Transition fire is important for Soldiers who assume the role of gunner on an MRAP when on patrol or as part of a convoy. This type of training is essential to current US force protection measures, as increased threats against patrols and convoys remain present.

Gunners learn to switch from a distant threat to a close-quarter threat, such as an individual attempting to attack a patrol by walking up on it, simply by transitioning from a crew-served weapon to personal weapons. Personal weapons go where crew-served weapons cannot. Another important fire element for a cavalry Soldier is the main gun aboard a tank or a Bradley.

"D" Company troops spent weeks preparing for the exercise after acquiring the equipment from 4th AAB, 1st Cavalry Division. Preparation included conducting routine maintenance, adjusting the main guns’ bore sights and ensuring proper configuration of the tank computer systems. Any time equipment is received, new or used, or moved to a new environment, it must be maintained and the weapons checked.

In a brand new environment, the equipment system data must be checked to ensure it functions properly. The Bradley Fighting Vehicle also spent a week undergoing the same process of maintenance and zeroing of its weapons as the tanks did. Crews tested both vehicle types at the range, with each of the teams taking turns zeroing their main guns using stationary targets.

Black Jack Soldiers Transition Base
On 11 August Soldiers from the 1-8 Cavalry Regiment, 2nd AAB, 1st Cavalry Division loaded equipment to assist in the transition of Kirkush Military Training Base (KMTB), Iraq. As the transition proceeded, Iraqi Soldiers, assigned to the 4th Battalion, 21st Brigade, 5th Iraqi Army Division, crossed elevated balance beams, scrambling across monkey bars and fired at targets during an M-16 rifle qualification to finish their training.

For weeks, Soldiers of "A" Company worked tirelessly to clean the area and conduct sensitive item sweeps to ensure the Iraqi Army received the base in serviceable condition. The transition comes after years of training that took place on the small compound.

Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, "Gimlets," 2nd AAB 25th Infantry Division, were first to step back and let Iraqis lead the training at KMTB. They led training and advising the year before the 1-8 Cavalry Regiment took command of the base. The Kirkush base is full of training history and provides a starting point for Iraqi soldiers to become self-reliant.

The growth of the Iraqi forces and their training continued to expand with each passing month at KMTB. US forces continued to motivate and train Iraqi forces with great success as they never failed to show gratitude to Soldiers of "A" Company. Training to the end, Iraqi soldiers on KMTB provided security for the base as the last of US forces at the Commando compound left.

1st Brigade Conducts a TOA Ceremony
On 13 August, for the fourth time in the history of the Ironhorse Brigade, the uncasing of colors once again takes center-stage in the blowing sands of COS Kalsu,Iraq. The 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division traded roles with the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment during a Transfer of Authority ceremony.

The TOA signifies the beginning of a new chapter for the Ironhorse Brigade in Iraq, as it officially assumed responsibilities of its predecessors. Ironhorse will maintain the mission of continued security in south-central Iraq and assist in the orderly withdrawal of US troops. The Brigade looks forward to the new challenge of taking the responsibility in closing the final chapter of US Forces in Iraq.

During the last three deployments, the Ironhorse Brigade has made historic changes in the lives of the Iraqi people and this time will be no different. Although the road ahead will be full of hard work, they will leave this place better than they found it.

Long Knives Begin To Return From Iraq
On 17 August, in the first flight of 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, more than 150 soldiers arrived at Robert Gray Army Airfield, signaling the conclusion of their year long deployment to Iraq. After greetings, some paperwork, checking in weapons and a bus ride to main post, they were welcomed home in a ceremony held at Cooper Field.

This group was called an "advon," an advance party of troopers from units across the Brigade who were sent home to help the rear detachment prepare for the return of their peers. The Brigade deployed to Iraq just after Labor Day, last year, with the majority of soldiers stationed near Mosul, in the northern region. The unit will be replaced by the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division, from Fort Bliss.

Flights for the rest of the Brigade, known as the "main body", will begin arriving at Ft. Hood next week, with the final flights closing out in early September. All homecoming ceremonies are scheduled to be at Cooper Field.

Second Echelon Of 4th Brigade Returns
On 25 August, more that 200 Soldiers from the 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division arrived at the Robert Gray Army Airfield at Ft. Hood after a year long deployment to Iraq. The squadron was stationed in Mosul, working with the Iraqi army at the Al Ghuzlani Training Center. The flight marked the second battalion within the Brigade to uncase its colors and return home.

On 06 September, Soldiers, mostly from the 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment were greeted with a hug from Elizabeth Laird, Ft. Hood's Hug Lady, and checked in their weapons. From there, soldiers were bused to Cooper Field, where family and friends awaited them. During a colorful ceremony, the 4th Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division uncased its colors. The uncasing ceremony marked the official stateside return of the 4th AAB, 1st Cavalry Division, "Long Knife" Brigade after a year long deployment to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

On 03 September, elements of the 1st "First Strike" Battalion, 21st Field Artillery Regiment, 41st Fires Brigade said goodbye to their loved ones, friends and peers as they filled the baggage trucks with their bags and loaded the buses taking them to Robert Gray Army Airfield heading for central Afghanistan.

During the First Strike Soldiers' deployment, the unit will divide into multiple military transitions teams and join NATO forces for a year assisting the Afghan army and police force.

Friends and Family members spent their last few hours with their Soldiers in the battalion area talking, eating or silently enjoying each other's company. As the Family members were saying their farewells, they had the opportunity to meet members of the Family readiness group and the chain of command.

Bulldogs Sharpen Medical Training
On 03 October, "B" Company, 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division chose to be proactive as they prepare to transfer Contingency Operating Station Garry Owen to Iraqi Security Forces and move their equipment to Contingency Operating Base Adder in advance of the drawdown of United States Forces-Iraq later this year.

The third platoon, recently took the opportunity to do some realistic training in sector and practice their medical evacuation skills. The training included setting up a helicopter landing zone and loading litter-bound casualties onto the helicopters.

Soldiers simulated an IED blast, or multiple blasts, before setting vehicles in a security perimeter. Bulldog Soldiers of the platoon worked together and joined in to perform necessary tasks as they sprung into action immediately applying buddy aid, scanning for secondary attacks, readying litters and calling up a 9-line MEDEVAC to battalion.

On 05 October commanders of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd Brigades, 1st Cavalry Division announced that it was unlikely that some US troops would remain in Iraq past the current 31 December withdrawal date because Iraqi political leaders ruled out any special legal protections for military trainers who stay behind.

With that news, the Division, still on 365-day deployment order, plans to is expected to begin returning home all three Brigades to Ft. Hood early from Iraq in November, finishing up in January.

Still, US officials, who have been advocating a continued presence past the 31 December withdrawal date set in a 2008 agreement, held out hope that some sort of accommodation might still be reached. Iskander Witwit, the ranking member of the Iraqi parliament's defense and security committee, said negotiations are now over, and that US trainers would be invited to remain only if US officials drop their insistence that the Iraqi parliament grant them immunity from prosecution in Iraq that has been a standard feature of US status-of-forces agreements around the world.

If US trainers pull out, Baghdad would turn to other countries for training. A statement released late Tuesday said trainers would be invited to stay but that immunity would not be extended. As of Tuesday, about 42,500 US troops were in Iraq, down from some 92,000 at the beginning of 2011. In the event of a breakdown in negotiations, the State Department said it will employ more than 5,000 private security contractors next year to protect its diplomatic missions in Iraq.

Thumbs Up as 3rd Bn, 8th Cav Depart
On 15 October, the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade transferred ownership of Contingency Operating Station (COS) Garry Owen to the 10th Iraqi Army Division and the government of Iraq, closing out a historic chapter of the 1st Cavalry Division. By the transfer of the COS to Iraqi Security Forces, the United States fulfills a step in its commitment to have all troops out of Iraq by the 31 December deadline.

The Warhorse Soldiers have called COS Garry Owen home for the entirety of their nine month deployment in support of Operation New Dawn. They have maintained security in Maysan since relieving the 1st Bn, 8th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division from Ft. Carson, Colorado. and assuming responsibility on o5 March. The base saw an increase in enemy activity during the unit's deployment, particularly from April through August as Iranian Backed Militia groups tried to force the US out of Iraq.

In response, the Warhorse Battalion worked side-by-side with the 10th IA Division and the Iraqi Police in Maysan province to disrupt enemy activity around COS Garry Owen and the Iraqi Army's Camp Sparrow Hawk, located adjacent to Garry Owen. This strategy proved so successful that the number of enemy related incidents dropped to almost zero by the time the battalion transferred ownership to the IA.

The battalion worked tirelessly to pack all of its equipment and move personnel off the base in a timely and safe manner. It was a logistical achievement considering the compressed timeline and sheer amount of equipment that was inventoried and moved. Living quarters, air conditioners, refueling equipment, several civilian vehicles, water containers, concrete barriers, a dining facility, and a battalion headquarters building were transferred to Iraqi ownership. In all, the Warhorse Battalion transferred over $4 million of equipment to the Iraqi Army and COS Garry Owen will become the headquarters for the 10th IA Division.

Organic equipment, including radios, trucks, computers, and weapons were packed and moved out in convoys to Contingency Operating Base Adder in preparation for further repositioning of US forces. Much of the equipment has been transferred back to the Army supply system for future use by other units. This process has saved the Army millions of dollars this year. Following turn-in at COB Adder, the unit will move to Camp Virginia, Kuwait, for final preparations for their redeployment back to Ft. Hood, Texas.

November Changes The Environment
03 November, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan: - Seasonal changes brought colder temperatures, more snow, and plenty of coalition and success for Afghan Forces in the eastern regions of Afghanistan. As the heart of winter approaches , troops and Afghan security partners are maintaining pressure on the enemies of Afghanistan and they building upon the momentum of the Summer and Fall offensives.

During November, several key missions were executed with Afghan partners with significant results. Operations RUGGED SARAK, NIGHT FURY and BORDOR RAMPAGE disrupted the return of the insurgents to Pakistan as they attempted to retreat before the extreme winter weather effects hit. Recently, insurgents along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border attempted a complex attack against Combat Outpost Margah, in eastern Paktika. Coalition and Afghan forces spoiled the attack with the assistance of indirect fire and CAS, removing approximately 50 insurgents from the battlefield. It is increasingly evident that the troops are facing and defeating ill-trained and ill-disciplined enemy fighters. As insurgent fighters grow weaker, the Afghan partners continue to get stronger.

While Afghan leaders met in Kabul this month for the Loya Jirga - a key political dialogue for the way ahead in Afghanistan, combined Team East support for ANSF partners to execute Operation KABUL SHIELD. Also several potential high-profile attacks intended to disrupt the Jirga were prevented. Together with the Afghan Army, removal of several seized weapons caches and dozens of enemy fighters denied their intent of attacking Afghan leaders in Kabul.

The Last Soldiers Load Onto a C-130
On 05 November Joint Base Balad (JJB), Iraq was officially transferred to the Iraqi government after being occupied for more that eight years by hundreds of thousands of US Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Marines and foreign contractors. The major elements of the transition were planned and performed by the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division. The transition was done by utilizing key elements of force protection and logistical operations from several battalions and the collaborative efforts between Soldiers and Airmen.

As the last US Soldiers to occupy JBB, Black Jack troops, worked closely with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing of the Air Force to transition the base to the Iraqi government. Also the 4th Squadron, 9th "Dark Horse" Cavalry Regiment and the 3rd "Red Dragons" Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery Regiment worked closely in the collaboration, cooperation and coordination of the lines of communication.

The Red Dragons had been stationed at JBB since May. During their time there, the battalion partnered with local leaders and Iraqi Security Forces to provide force protection in Southern Salah-ah-Din to conduct route clearance and counter-indirect fire patrols to disrupt and defeat violent extremists within the surrounding cities.

Because of the efforts of the Red Dragons, IDF attacks were prevented the last two weeks of the base transition which enabled the Red Dragons to focus their attention on consolidation and transition. Since they maintained security until the last Soldier departed JBB, the battalion focused on clean up efforts, making sure no sensitive items were left behind.

Also involved in the clean-up efforts was the 15th "Gamblers" Brigade Support Battalion, as they are the logistical force behind the Brigade. The mission of the Gamblers included many coordination tasks.

Veterans' Day

On 11 November, we all give respect and honor to all those who have served their country.

Encasing Of The US Forces Colors

On 15 December, after almost nine years, the Iraq war officially ends. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta flew into Baghdad to be the guest of honor at a ceremony formally wrapping up the 8 1/2 old invasion and occupation of Iraq. The ceremony ended the war two weeks earlier than was necessary under the terms of the security agreement signed by the US and Iraqi governments in 2008, which stipulated that the troops must be gone by 31 December 2011.

After speeches by various dignitaries, the flag of United States Force-Iraq was folded away signaling the end of the mission was over, eight years, eight months and 25 days after it began on March 20, 2003. The war resulted in an estimated 4,487 American deaths, more than 100,000 Iraqi lives lost and more than $800 billion invested by US taxpayers on both the military effort and reconstruction. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that when all is said and done the total cost of the war in Iraq to US taxpayers - including on going care for severely injured soldiers - will be around $1.9 trillion.

2nd BCT Uncases Colors
Also on 15 December, exactly eight months to the day they cased their colors, Soldiers with the 2nd "Black Jack" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division assembled again on Cooper Field and uncased their colors, marking one of the last units to leave Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn and allowing Soldiers to be home just in time for the holidays. The Brigade had operated primarily in the Northern Iraqi Joint Operations area.

Being home for the holidays came as a surprise to the Black Jack Soldiers. They didn't know until a couple of weeks ago that they would be back before the Christmas holiday, and they were very fortunate everything worked out.

Many Black Jack Soldiers agreed that being one of the last units to leave their footprint in Iraq made their numerous deployment rotations, loss of comrades and countless holidays away from loved ones well worth it.

Soldiers Serve As A Response Force
On 18 December, 2011 the last group of US forces departed Iraq. About 15,000 US soldiers who are currently deployed to Kuwait will remain in the country for the time being, according to Army officials. As of last week, the US contingent consisted of soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, Fort Hood, Texas, which includes the 34th Infantry Division of the Minnesota National Guard and the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade of the Maryland National Guard. A spokeswoman for the Brigade was quoted as saying the combat team would serve as a response force for US Central Command.

The exact number of troops and their makeup are details that are still being negotiated by the US and Kuwaiti authorities. US and Kuwaiti officials are reportedly negotiating to use the 15,000 US soldiers that remain as a response force. Two months ago, the Kuwaiti defense minister was quoted as saying US forces would only use his nation as a staging point. Now it appears that is likely to change, with the United States maintaining a force capable of responding to various Mid-Eastern contingencies should the need arise.

On 21 December, as the white buses, loaded with 3rd Brigade Soldiers, drove the route from Robert Gray Army Airfield to Cooper Field an atmosphere of excitement coupled with exhaustion filled the vehicles.

The 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, the last Army unit to leave Iraq Saturday night, had been stationed at Contingency Operating Base Adder, which was the last base to close. After about 20 minutes, the white buses turned onto Battalion Avenue and soldiers stared silently out the windows at the cheering crowds - their voices muffled by the windows and the engines of the buses.

3rd Brigade At Khabari-Crossing
This is a video of the last convoy of heavily armored personnel carriers, known as Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAPs) vehicles, of the 3rd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. They had left the staging base at Camp Adder in southern Iraq in Sunday's early hours. No formal "exit ceremony" was given as they slipped out under cover of darkness and strict secrecy to prevent any final attacks. The 500 soldiers didn't even tell their Iraqi comrades on the base they were leaving.

The film clip begins as they were preparing to leave Iraq and enter Camp Virginia, Kuwait through the Khabari-Crossing that has been the gateway for the passage of troops, equipment, and supplies, between Iraq and Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom as well as Operation New Dawn.

The movement of the 3rd Brigade, as the last unit to redeploy out of Iraq, symbolizes the closing of a mission spanning nearly a decade. This last unit to pass through the Khabari-Crossing played an essential role in Iraq since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq in 2003. The Gray Wolf Brigade was there at the beginning of the mission and now, as Operation New Dawn ends, they will be a part of history in the making - and, in their legacy, will see the mission to the very end.

Before "charging" to their loved ones, the Special Troops Battalion and 3rd Brigade uncased their colors, officially marking their return to Ft. Hood. As the soldiers marched onto Cooper Field, family and friends cheered and waved homemade banners, one even offering a marriage proposal.

Near the end of the deployment, Greywolf was responsible for securing a 220 miles stretch of the International Highway, which ran north to south and was traveled by other units leaving Iraq through Kuwait. The biggest challenge of the mission hit within the last 60 days. Tough decisions had to be made while balancing risk and force protection with continuing the mission.

Even though Greywolf will be remembered as the last brigade to leave, no matter when or where in Iraq a soldier deployed over the last eight and a half years, they are proud of their contribution.

1st Brigade trains Kuwaiti troops
On 29 January, it was reported that since arriving at Camp Buehring from Iraq in December, the Brigade has performed vehicle and equipment maintenance and focused on "changing our job from advising and assisting Iraqi (security forces) to going back to those core competencies the 1st Cavalry Division is known for. Despite initial disappointment that it wouldn't be coming home from Iraq along with the rest of the Fort Hood troops stationed there at the end of the war, 1st "Ironhorse" Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, is making the most of its time in Kuwait,

But the primary reason for the brigade's move to Kuwait "is to partner with the Kuwaiti army in training with the heavy equipment and learning how to work together". Since the Iraq War began, the US military hasn't had this kind of time to train with the strategically important ally. Despite media speculation that the brigade along with several thousand other US military personnel moved to Kuwait to keep hostile area nations in check during Iraq's transition to full independence from US assistance, The stabilizing effect of Ironhorse's presence in the Persian Gulf region a byproduct of its larger mission. It is expected that the brigade will remain deployed for its full 12-month mission, making for an early summer return.

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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.

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