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Long Knives Begin The Return From Iraq
On 17 August, 1011, 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.

As the last US Soldiers to occupy Joint Force Balad (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 Last Soldiers Load Onto a C-130
On 05 November Joint Base Balad (JBB), 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.

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.

Encasing Of The US Forces Colors

Also on 15 December, half-way around the world in Iraq, after almost nine years, the Iraq war officially ended. 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.

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 on the previous 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.

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
As reported on 27 December, 2011 Soldiers of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division closed the chapter of Operation New Dawn and took on the responsibility of securing Iraq's roadways running south to Kuwait, aiding in the successful withdrawal of over 30,000 troops and millions of dollars of equipment. With one historic moment complete, their mission continues.

The 1st Brigade along with other US soldiers who are currently deployed to Kuwait will remain in the country for the time being. For now, the US contingent, totaling nearly 15,000, consisted of soldiers from the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 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.

Although some elements of the Ironhorse Brigade may still be adjusting to its new location, the Brigade looks forward to its new mission which comprises of joint training and military-to-military operations and cooperation with Kuwait and other regional allies. Implementation of the long-term training goal of the Ironhorse's current mission minimizes the need for US and international partnering, with Kuwait, because Kuwait will be trained and proficient enough to "stand alone".

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.

US Forces Movement in Persian Gulf
On 13 January, the Pentagon indicated that the "destabilizing behavior" of Iran was a factor in planning in the Middle East but sought to discourage speculation the US military was quietly building up forces in the region to counter any perceived threat. The number of US forces in Kuwait has grown to about 15,000 in recent weeks, including two combat brigades, as troops have withdrawn from Iraq following the end of the war.

A Pentagon spokesman, indicated that he was not aware of any decision to permanently increase the number of troops based in Kuwait. Temporarily the forces in Kuwait has increased because a brigade deployed to Iraq at the end of the war had been shifted to Kuwait to finish its deployment. Force numbers in any given location shift regularly depending on needs.

Earlier this week, the military reported that a second aircraft carrier had arrived in the Arabian Sea and a third was on its way to the region. The Pentagon portrayed this as a normal rotation, with one ship en route to its home port. The movements come at a time of heightened tensions between the United States and Iran. Iran has threatened action if another US carrier moves into the Gulf and has said it might try to close the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow waterway through which much of the region's oil is shipped.

The New York Times has reported that the US may re-position forces from Iraq and build up forces all in the Persian Gulf region, among the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain (already home to the US 5th Fleet), Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has previously indicated that the United States would have about 40,000 troops in the region after the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011, but declined to specify where they would all be located.


General Odierno, Army Chief Of Staff
Although the Pentagon had introduced planning for force reduction as early in May, 2011, it was not until 27 January, 2012 when the Army Chief of Staff, General Raymond Odierno, in a series of public briefings describing the overall scope of the impact on the Army, announced that the Army will remain capable through the planned 6 year drawdown of the current 570,000 Soldiers to 490,000. Along with the loss of 80,000 Soldiers, it is planned to reduce at least eight, active organizational brigades from the present TOE capability - approximated at 43, now. In 2017, the new Army of 490,000 will be fundamentally different and more capable than the Army of 2001, which was composed of 482,000 Soldiers.

Following the initial release of data, General Raymond Odierno told reporters that he is comfortable with the reduction recommendations and the time is strategically right to reduce forces, especially since the new long term planning strategy of DOD does not call for large-scale ground wars and the resulting "end strength" of the Armed forces will be more effective than now because of the introduction and use of new technologies along with the fact that today's troops are combat-seasoned from 10 years of war.

With the Army slated to cut 80,000 soldiers through attrition and other means during the next six years, a lapsed force management tool, signed into law 31 December 2011, allows military branches to offer retirement to some personnel at 15 years, instead of the standard 20.

Although the Army has not announced when or if it will implement the option, the Navy plans on allowing a certain number of enlisted sailors to apply for it. The Army last exercised this option during the force reduction of the 1990s. According to Army records, between 1992 and 2002, 16,255 active-duty soldiers opted for early retirement,

If branches reinstate the option in a format similar to last time, it won't be available to everyone. Usually, they do it in overage skills areas or do it for people who have been passed over once for promotion - those who are somewhat less competitive. For example, if accedited for the early retirement action, a soldier with 15 years of service would get 37.5 percent of his average end salary, minus 5 percent of that total.

"Doctrine 2015" Is Shaping The Army
On 23 February, General Robert Cone, commanding general of US Army Training and Doctrine Command, spoke on a variety of initiatives in shaping the future of the Army during the AUSA Winter Symposium at Fort Lauderdale, FL.

General Cone began his presentation by addressing the challenges of the future operational environment and identifying the hybrid strategy used by nation states and surrogates to draw the US into conflict by indicating "These forces recognize that conventional confrontation with the US is, in fact, a losing proposition. They understand our vulnerabilities. They are on their home terrain, and they will use non-traditional capabilities to the greatest extent possible - not in a random way, but in a designed way to address US vulnerabilities".

General Cone continued - "The goal of the enemy is to frustrate US operations and turn conflict into a protracted war of attrition with the goal of affecting the nation’s resolve". He then focused on TRADOC to develop people and ideas, and building organizations to meet these challenges and outlined the need to ensure the operational knowledge these leaders have acquired during the last 10 years of war is not lost and is captured in the guiding doctrines of the Army.

To that end, General Cone noted that TRADOC is leading an effort called "Doctrine 2015" that provides the Army with a common professional language within a new, simplified and holistic doctrinal framework. The goal is to create a top-to-bottom hierarchy, or echelon, of publications and manuals that provide top-level, easy-to-read doctrinal principals, with supporting references that increase in length and depth of information. Doctrine 2015 will make these references available at the point of need through interactive media such as mobile applications.

Another task that TRADOC is addressing is how to make home station training more realistic and similar to training received at Combat Training Centers (CTC). General Cone also indicated that "he believes battalion commanders would embrace the ability to design and execute training similar to CTCs. If we do not make home station training exciting and relevant,we will pay a price in young leaders exiting the Army because they will not get it or understand the relevance of it."

On 24 February a small group (approximately 55) of advanced party members of Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, dressed in the darker Army combat uniforms made for Afghanistan symbolizing "the promise of greater things to come" following the "first, historic deployment of the 1st Cavalry Division to Afghanistan." In its mission, the 1st Cavalry Division has the lead position in guiding the coalition forces and civilian entities that compose Combined Joint Task Force-1 in the country's Regional Command-East, headquartered at Bagram Airbase.

More troops are expected at the end of March, with most expected home in April,The soldiers who arrived Friday left shortly before a rash of riots erupted across the country in response to the inadvertent burning of Qurans at the airbase Monday evening. The Public Affairs director for the regional command, indicated that "all remaining 1st Cavalry Division soldiers "are safe and indeed accounted for in Eastern Afghanistan." Afghan security forces are providing security outside Bagram's gates and talking to local leaders to maintain a calm environment.

As more of the troops and units of the Division, redeployed home from iraq, Afganistan and Kuwait, are beginning to close out on the Army Generation (ARFORGEN) Cycle, the Division is taking advantage of it's reset period of six months to synchronize strategic planning, prioritizing, and resourcing to generate trained and ready modular expeditionary forces by initiating changes of commands for the Brigades and Subordinate Units. In effect this will allow all of the Units to phase into "training up" for a next possible deployment cycle which may be put on place because of the unrest in the Eastern and near Asia countries.

Date 1st Cavalry Division
24 May, 2012 Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division
11 Jun, 2012 Commander - 1st Cavalry Division
10 Jul, 2012 Deputy Commander, Support - 1st Cavalry Division
Date Brigades And Subordinate Units
07 Dec, 2011 4th Brigade (Long Knive) Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
2nd Bn, 7th Cavalry Reg't
1st Sqdn, 9th Cavalry Reg't
2nd Bn, 12th Cavalry Reg't
5th Bn, 82nd Field Arty
27th Bde Spt Bn (BSB)
4th Bde Spl Trps Bn (BSTB)
27 Mar, 2012 1st Fires Brigade, 41st Fires Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
2nd Bn, 20th Field Arty
1st Bn, 21st Field Arty
"A" Btry, 26th Field Arty
324th Network Supt Co
589th Brigade Supt Bn
11 May, 2012 3rd Brigade (Greywolf) Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
3rd Bn, 8th Cavalry Reg't
6th Sqdn, 9th Cavalry Reg't
1st Bn, 12th Cavalry Reg't
2nd Bn, 82nd Field Arty
215th Bde Spt Bn (BSB)
3rd Bde Spl Trps Bn (BSTB)
23 May, 2012 2nd Brigade (Black Jack) Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
1st Bn, 5th Cavalry Reg't
1st Bn, 8th Cavalry Reg't
4th Sqdn, 9th Cavalry Reg't
3rd Bn, 82nd Field Arty
15th Bde Spt Bn (BSB)
2nd Bde Spl Trps Bn (BSTB)
02 Jul, 2012 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
1st Bn, 227th Avn (ATK)
2nd Bn, 227th Avn (GS)
3rd Bn, 227th Avn (ASLT)
4th Bn, 227th Avn (ATK)
615th Avn Spt Bn (ASB)
12 Jul, 2012 1st Brigade (Iron Horse) Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division
1st Sqdn, 7th Cavalry Reg't
2nd Bn, 8th Cavalry Reg't
1st Bn, 82nd Field Arty
115th Bde Spt Bn (BSB)
1st Bde Spl Trps Bn (BSTB)
The 2nd Bn, 5th Cavalry Reg't will
change commanders at a later date.

On 09 April, it was reported that one of the 1st Cavalry Division Brigade Special Troops Battalions, along with its Brigade Support Battalion, could be dismantled as part of the proposed de-staffing plans of the Army. Although senior Division officials deny that any final decisions have been made on restructuring the force of Ft. Hood, the 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion 4th Brigade Combat Team, is sponsoring what is being billed as a "farewell ball" later in the week.

According to information from the US Army public affairs office who indicated "Any changes in the status of the remaining (Brigade Combat Teams) are not available until, at the very earliest, the release of the fiscal year 2014 budget announcement next February,"

The Special Troops Battalion, which was stood up along with the rest of 4th Brigade Combat Team in 2005, deploying twice to the war in Iraq, is being considered for disbandment as part of Army downsizing program. But not without a party. The battalion officer said the ball has attracted a major civilian benefactor, and general officers and public officials from across Fort Hood and Central Texas are scheduled to attend the social event.

In February, Army Chief of Staff General Raymond T. Odierno had announced that five more brigade combat teams, in addition to the eight already designated for elimination, could be disbanded as part of force restructuring. Addressing the AUSA Winter Symposium in Florida, Odierno discussed adding a third maneuver battalion and more engineers to each remaining brigade combat team as a way to add "significant flexibility and capability" to the force.

No official Defense Department orders or restructuring directives have been cut for the Brigade, according to information from the 1st Cavalry Division. The possibility that the Special Troops Battalion and the 27th Support Battalion could be eliminated is significant, however; with the 4th Brigade Combat Team being stood up to support operations in Iraq, now over, it could be more vulnerable to planned brigade combat team cuts. If the Brigade were to be eliminated, however, he said the net impact on Fort Hood could be minimal, as its two maneuver battalions could be absorbed by the other brigade combat teams of the Division.

Loading The Last MRAP At Kuwait
Unloading The Last MRAP At Beaumount
Transporting The Last MRAP To Ft. Hood

In March, at the Port of Kuwait, the last (and only) Mine-Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle to leave Operation New Dawn, Iraq was loaded on the cargo ship Ocean Crescent for sea transport to the Port of Beaumont, TX. The MRAP Vehicle, one of those 300 assigned to the 3rd Combat Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division - Ft. Hood for their last mission, departed Iraq in December, 2011.

08 May, the Ocean Crescent arrived at the Port of Beaumont, TX. The cargo handling personnel carefully secured the MRAP vehicle for offloading and nsfer to a heavy duty commercial transporter for its last overland journey to Ft. Hood, TX.

Leaving Beaumont, under cloudy skies, the 14-ton behemoth transversed the commercial streets out of Beaumont, TX, and to the gates of Ft. Hood, TX. This location became the official transfer of ownership to the 1st Cavalry Division, who will display it at the Military Museum, serving as a physical reminder of the end of the Iraq War on Terrorism.

Soldiers had scrawled "Last Vehicle out of Iraq" on the vehicle's heavily armored flank. The design of the MRAP is a testament to the unexpected challenges faced by American troops in the early years of the Iraq war, when lightly armored Humvees left soldiers and Marines vulnerable to insurgent attacks and roadside bombs. The MRAPs, with their V-shaped armored hulls, deflect damage from improvised explosive devices and saved lives were not put into heavy rotation in Iraq until 2007, when the Department of Defense ordered more than 15,000 vehicles. Although well suited for Iraqi roads, MRAPs were too large and bulky for most Afghan roads. The Defense Department instead developed a smaller, more mobile all-terrain version, sometimes called a "baby" MRAP, for the more rugged landscape of Afghanistan.

About 20,000 MRAPs left Iraq, and many will be used for training exercises in the US. Soldiers with the 3rd Combat Brigade, which operated in the four southernmost provinces of Iraq, were the last to leave the country, with many returning from duty at the end of 2011. The last MRAP was part of a historic convoy of Ft. Hood soldiers and vehicles that crossed the Iraqi border into Kuwait on Main Supply Route Tampa just before dawn 18 December. Although American combat troops have left the country after nearly nine years of war, thousands of contractors and advisers, as well as the personnel of the United States largest embassy, still remain in Iraq.

The MRAP didn't exist at the beginning of the war but has become a symbol of the incredible adaptiveness of the American military and their ability to field the best equipment for ther Army. By the preservation of this vehicle , future generations will reminded of the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who served valiantly over the course of this war, the sacrifices of their families back at home and those who were wounded or killed to bring peace.

Armed Aerial Scout 72X
On 12 October, senior aviators from the 1st Cavalry Division flew the new Armed Aerial Scout 72X helicopter at Robert Gray Army Airfield on West Fort Hood. A variation of the 72X helicopter could potentially replace the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior scout helicopter that was developed 37 years ago for use during the Vietnam War.

The flights were the first in a series of tests to gain performance information and maneuverability capability on the prototype that would be evaluated for development of the production design which could eventually replace the scout helicopter that has been in service since 1969.

While there are obvious differences between the AH-64D Apache Longbow and the AAS 72X+, the pilots were able to deliver valuable feedback to the industry professionals at American Eurocopter. That feedback will be used to provide the Army the scout helicopter that will meet its needs, such as having built-in redundancies like twin engines, as opposed to the single engine OH-58 Kiowa. If one engine is damaged in combat and fails, the pilots can still return home safely using the other engine.

227th Aviation Departs For TRaining.
On 11 January, Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment, 1st ACB departed from Robert Grey Army Airfield for a NTC rotation at Fort Irwin, The Battalion will train alongside the 3rd BCT, 1st Cavalry Division in a joint mission during the monthlong exercise. The one-month rotation will see the Battalion providing continuous support for 3rd BCT while also validating and training Attack’s Mission Essential Task List.

Along with (their) necessary training requirements, the 3rd BCT requested (aviation) support and our mission capabilities and assets supported the task. The main goal is to perfect operational procedures and produce the maximum effective application of aviation combat power in support of the ground force commander.

The Battalion will conduct live-fire operations with the Grey Wolf Brigade and support the sustainment of the ground fight with air moves and resupply while also providing medical evacuation, reconnaissance and security while under threat from a realistic opposition.

One of the challenges of an NTC rotation is the logistical aspect of moving the entire Battalion to a new location for a month, something usually reserved for deployments to an overseas theater.

Unlike a deployment, the personnel in these training centers have a more strict timeline that must be adhered to in order to allow incoming units the same training opportunities, Movements and requirements are impacted by weather and available movement contracting resources.

The rotation will be most beneficial for all Soldiers, as the training helps keep them ready for future missions. Whether deployed to a conventional battle zone or contingency operation, the coordination, improvements and the confidence built by conducting this exercise will prepare both veterans and new Soldiers to better work alongside one another more efficiently.

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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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