The 1st Armored Division —nicknamed “Old Ironsides”— is a standing armored division of the United States Army with base of operations in Wiesbaden, Germany. It was the first armored division of the U.S. Army to see battle in World War II. The entire 1st Armored Division is scheduled to arrive at Fort Bliss, Texas between 2008 and 2011, where they will replace the outgoing air defense artillery units (largely Patriot missile Battalions) currently stationed at Fort Bliss.
Commander: Major General Mark P. Hertling.
Assistant Division Commander (Maneuver): Brigadier General James Boozer Sr.
Assistant Division Commander (Support): Brigadier General Raymond A. Thomas III
Chief of Staff: Colonel Bryan Watson
Command Sergeant Major: Command Sergeant Major Roger P. Blackwood
When the division relocates in 2011 to Fort Bliss, Texas, it will reorganize under the new modular design. The 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division reflagged from the 1st Cavalry Division in March 2008 and reflagged as the 4th Brigade, 1st Armored Division. The Division will consist of four Brigade Combat Teams and a Combat Aviation Brigade.
1st Armored Division consists of the following elements:
The division was nicknamed "Old Ironsides", by its first commander, Major General Bruce R. Magruder, after he saw a picture of the frigate USS Constitution, which is also nicknamed "Old Ironsides". The large "1" at the top represents the numerical designation of the division, and the insignia is used as a basis for most other sub-unit insignias. The three colors, red, yellow, and blue represent the Artillery, Cavalry, and Infantry Branches respectively, which are the colors of the three original combat arms which, when forged into one, created the field of armor. The cannon and tracked vehicle symbols represent the mechanized role of the division.
Van Voorhis’s cadre and platoon became the kernel for the 7th Cavalry Brigade, which went Active on March 1, 1932 at Fort Knox. At first, it was nothing more than a headquarters detachment and the Armored Car Platoon.
On January 3, 1933, U.S. 1st Cavalry Regiment was relieved from assignment to the 1st Cavalry Division, and was moved from Fort A.D. Russell to Fort Knox. The earlier Mechanized Platoon was incorporated into the new Regimental TO&E, and the result was the 1st Cavalry Regiment [Mechanised], which went active on January 16, 1933.
The new Regimental commander was Colonel Van Voorhis, late of the experimental Mechanized Force, while the executive officer was Adna Chaffee. The Post Commander of Fort Knox was Brigadier General Julian R. Lindsey, another cavalryman. To round out the cavalry nature of the unit, Major Robert W. Grow was on the Regimental Staff.
Van Voorhis added the 13th Cavalry Regiment, the 68th Field Artillery Battalion, the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron, the 7th Signal Troop, the 4th Medical Troop, the 47th Engineer Troop and the 17th Quartermaster Battalion. The 7th Cavalry Brigade was fully formed.
On May 7, 1940, the 7th Cavalry Brigade took part in the Louisiana Maneuvers at Monroe, Louisiana that were instrumental in developing the armored division concept. The maneuvers concluded on May 27, 1940, and the brigade returned to Fort Knox on May 31, 1940, and preparations began to expand the brigade into the 1st Armored Division.
On July 15, 1940, 7th Cavalry Brigade was expanded, reorganized, and redesignated as 1st Armored Division. 1st Cavalry Regiment was redesignated as 1st Armored Regiment and 13th Cavalry Regiment was redesignated as 13th Armored Regiment.
The first Order of Battle for the 1st Armored Division was as follows:
The unit's first contact with an enemy was as part of the Allied invasion of Northwest Africa, Operation Torch, on November 8, 1942. Elements of the division were part of the Northern Task Force and became the first American armored division to see combat in World War II. Combat Command B (CCB) of the division landed east and west of Oran, and entered the city on November 10, 1942. On November 24, 1942, CCB moved from Tafaroui, Algeria to Bedja, Tunisia, and raided Djedeida airfield the next day. Djedeida was finally conquered on November 28, 1942. CCB moved southwest of Tebourba on December 1, 1942, engaged German forces on El Guessa Heights on December 3, 1942, but its lines were pierced on December 6, 1942. CCB withdrew to Bedja with heavy equipment loses between December 10 and December 11, 1942, and was placed in reserve. CCB next attacked in the Ousseltia Valley on January 21, 1943, and cleared that area until January 29, 1943 when sent to Bou Chebka, and arrived at Maktar on February 14, 1943. Combat Command A (CCA) fought at Faid Pass commencing on January 30, 1943, and advanced to Sidi Bou Zid, where it was pushed back with heavy tank loses on February 14, 1943, and had elements isolated on Djebel Lessouda, Djebel Kasaira, and Garet Hadid. Combat Command C (CCC), which had been constituted on January 23, 1943 to raid Sened Station on January 24, advanced towards Sbeita, and counterattacked to support CCA in the Sidi Bou Zid area on February 15, 1943, but was repulsed with heavy loses. The division withdrew from Sbeita on February 16, 1943, but – by February 21, 1943 CCB contained the German attack toward Tebessa. The German withdrawal allowed the division to recover Kasserine Pass on February 26, 1943 and assemble in reserve. The division moved northeast of Gafsa on March 13, 1943 and attacked in heavy rains on March 17, 1943 as CCA took Zannouch, but became immobilized by rain the next day. The division drove on Maknassy on March 20, 1943, and fought the Battle of Djebel Naemia on March 22 – March 25, 1943, and then fought to break through positions baring the road to Gabes between March 29 and April 1, 1943. It began to follow up the withdrawing German forces on April 6, 1943, and attacked towards Mateur with CCA on April 27, 1943, which fell after hard fighting on Hill 315 and Hill 299 on May 3, 1943. The division fought the Battle for Djebel Achtel between May 5 and May 11, 1943, and entered Ferryville on May 7, 1943. The German forces in Tunisia surrendered between May 9 and May 13, 1943. The division was reorganized in French Morocco, and began arriving in Naples, Italy on October 28, 1943.
After the fall of Sicily, the unit, under the US Fifth Army, invaded mainland Italy. It took part in the attack on the infamous Winter Line in November 1943. It then flanked the Axis armies in the landings at Anzio, and participated in the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944. The division continued in combat to the Po Valley until the German forces in Italy surrendered on May 2, 1945. In June, the Division moved to Germany as part of the occupation forces.
The Korean War saw the US forces being built up again. As part of that buildup, the 1st Armored Division was reactivated on 7 March 1951 at Fort Hood. It was the first US Army unit to receive the new M48 Patton tank. After a number of years in Texas, the division was moved to Fort Polk, Louisiana, in 1956.
The division was deployed to Texas, Florida, and Georgia, in response to the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the six week deployment, it received a visit from President John F. Kennedy. A few units fought in the Vietnam War, and were returned to the division after the war. The 3d Brigade deployed to Chicago, Illinois to restore order after Martin Luther King Jr.'s marches. At that time, the division was based in Fort Hood, Texas.
As the Vietnam War wound down, there was a fundamental reorganisation of the Army. As part of this reorganisation, the 1st Armored Division was moved to Germany in 1971. It replaced the 4th Armored Division in the Bavarian city of Ansbach. The Division remained in Ansbach, with brigade units in the neighboring towns of Bamberg, Illesheim, Katterbach, Crailsheim and Zirndorf, West Germany for the next twenty years, as part of the American forces committed to NATO.
In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait. US Army units were dispatched to protect Saudi Arabia. Later in the fall, President Bush, Sr. made the decision to deploy American heavy forces on a massive scale to eject the Iraqis from Kuwait. The lead unit for this deployment was the VII Corps from Germany. 1st Armored Division was one of four American heavy divisions assigned to VII Corps in theater. In the ground attack of the Gulf War, the Division led the VII Corps' flank attack on the Iraqis. It had the duty of destroying the elite Iraqi Republican Guard units. In eighty nine hours, the division moved 250 kilometers, destroyed 768 vehicles, and captured 1,064 prisoners of war, at the cost of four dead. It returned to Germany on May 8, 1991, and celebrated with a visit from Vice President Dan Quayle.
On December 18, 1995, under the command of Major General William L. Nash, the division deployed to northeast Bosnia as the command element of Task Force Eagle, a powerful, multinational unit intended to keep the peace. (A Russian brigade, initially under the command of Colonel Aleksandr Ivanovich Lentsov, was part of that effort. An account of the interactions of the Americans and Russians in Bosnia in 1996 may be found in James Nelson’s Bosnia Journal) The 1AD returned in late 1996 to Germany.
Afterwards, the unit trained heavily in Hohenfels and Grafenwöhr Training Areas in Germany, with realistic OPFOR (Opposition Forces) exercises. Some units were deployed into Iraq and other countries in the Middle East for the global War on Terrorism.
In the build-up in the months prior the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, two battalions of the 1st Armored Division's 3d Brigade were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The 2-70 Armor and 1-41 Infantry battalion task forces augmented the 82nd Airborne Division("All-American"), the 3d Infantry Division("Rock of the Marne"), and the 101st Airborne Division("Screaming Eagles") throughout the campaign to oust Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. These units spearheaded the U.S assaults in As Samawah and Karbala and later occupied the southern area of Baghdad. In April 2003, the remainder of the division deployed to Iraq and assumed responsibility for Baghdad, under command of Brigadier General Martin E. Dempsey, and the surrounding areas, relieving the 3d Infantry Division. The division was scheduled to return to Germany in April 2004, but was extended in order to defeat a Shia militia led by Moqtada Al Sadr. During the three month extension Task Force 1-37 AR ("Bandits") fought Al Sadr's forces in Karbala while Task Force 2-37 AR ("Dukes") fought in Diwaniya, Sadr City, Al-Kut, and Najaf. Task Force 1-36 IN ("Spartans") became the CJTF-7 Operational Reserve and conducted operations throughout the theater in support of the 1st Cavalry Division. Forces from the 2d Brigade fought in Kut. During Operation Iraqi Freedom, the division lost more than 125 soldiers.
The division's 3d Brigade deployed to the Iraqi Theatre once again in January 2005 for 'Operation Iraqi Freedom Three' from Fort Riley, Kansas, this after only eight months Stateside. There, they are attached to the 3d Infantry Division and are the major unit involved with Task Force Baghdad.
2nd Brigade Combat Team, or BCT, deployed to Kuwait November 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom IV, spending six months as a theater reserve. Following the Samarra mosque bombing TF 2-6IN deployed to Iraq in late February 2006. In May 2006 the two additional Task Forces (TF 1-6IN and TF 1-35AR) deployed to Ar Ramadi, Iraqi to help bring the volatile capital of the Anbar Province under control. In August 2006, the remainder of 2BCT (TF 4-27FA and HHC 2BCT) deployed to Baghdad, mainly in support of joint Iraqi/U.S. operations in the municipality. The brigade deployed to Iraq again in April 2008.
The division's 1st Brigade("Ready First") deployed again to Iraq in January 2006 after months of intensive training in Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels, Germany. Many of the soldiers who fought with units like 2-37 Armor("Iron Dukes") and 1-37 ("Bandits") returned to Iraq for a second time. The Ready First Brigade was deployed to Northern Iraq in Nineveh province concentrating on the city of Tal' Afar. In May 2006 1st Brigade received orders to move south to the city of Ramadi in volatile Al Anbar Province. August 2006, seven months into their Iraq tour, 1st Brigade received news of a forty-six day extension. After nearly fourteen months, 1st Brigade redeployed from Iraq in mid-February 2007.
In September 2007, the 1st Armored Division Headquarters deployed again to Iraq. The 1st Armored Division conducted a relief in place with the 25th Infantry Division and assumed command of Multi-National Division North, headquartered in Tikrit, Iraq, on 28 October 2007. Multi-National Division North was then comprised of five Maneuver Brigade Combat Teams, a Combat Aviation Brigade, a Fires Brigade, and an Engineer Brigade. Multi-National Division North includes the Iraqi provinces of Ninawa, Kirkuk (formerly At Tamin), Salah ad Din, and Diyala along with Dahuk, and As Sulaymaniah. The area also includes the critical cities of Tal Afar, Mosul, Bayji, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Samarra, Balad, Baqubah, Dahuk, and Sulaymaniah. The Division currently commands all Coalition Forces in Northern Iraq. Arbil province remains aligned as a separate Multi-National Division, North-East. The 1st Armored Division has tackled numerous complex problem sets in Northern Iraq applying both lethal and non-lethal means. The area includes ethnic fault lines between Arabs and Kurds, religious fault lines between Sunni and Shia Muslims, numerous tribal regions, and the complexities involving significant Former Regime Elements and the dynamics of energy.
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