First Cavalry Division / 1st Cavalry
"The First Team"
World War II
April 4, 1921
On a yellow triangular Norman shield with rounded corners 5 1/4 inches in height overall, a black diagonal stripe extending over the shield from upper left to lower right and in the upper right a black horse's head cut off diagonally at the neck all within a 1/8 inch green border.
Yellow, the traditional cavalry color, and the horse's head refer to the division's original cavalry structure. Black, symbolic of iron, alludes to the transition to tanks and armor. The black diagonal stripe represents a sword baldric and is a mark of military honor; it also implies movement "up the field" and thus symbolizes aggressive elan and attack. The one diagonal bend, as well as the one horse's head, also alludes to the division's numerical designation.
The shoulder sleeve insignia was originally approved January 3, 1921 with several variations in colors of the bend and horse's head to reflect the subordinate elements of the division. The current design was authorized for wear by all subordinate elements of the division on December 11, 1934 and previous authorization for the variations was cancelled.
The history of the 1st Cavalry Division begins in 1855, when the unit then designated as the 2nd Cavalry Regiment was formed. In 1861 it was redesignated the 5th Cavalry. This unit participated in several battles in the American Civil War, including Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Wilderness, and Appomattox.
1920s and 1930s
The Army established a permanent cavalry division Table of Organization & Equipment on 4 April 1921. It authorized a Square Division organization of 7,463 Officers and Men, organized as follows:
Headquarters Element (34 men)
Two Separate Cavalry Brigades (2,803 men each)
Field Artillery Battalion (790 men)
Engineer Battalion (357 men)
Division Quartermaster Trains Command (276 men)
Special Troops Command (337 men)
Ambulance Company (63 men)
On 20 August 1921, the War Department Adjutant General constituted the 1st and 2d Cavalry Divisions to meet partial mobilization requirements, and authorized the establishment of the 1st Cavalry Division under the new TO&E on 31 August 1920. Since 1st Cavalry Division was to assemble from existing units, it was able to go active in September, 1920, even though the subordinate units did not arrive at their assigned stations completely until as late as 1922.
1st Cavalry Division was assigned to the VIII Corps Area, with its Division Headquarters and 2d Brigade located at Fort Bliss, Texas, and the 1st Brigade at Douglas, Arizona. The Headquarters facilities used by 1st Cavalry Division were those previously vacated by 8th United States Brigade when it was commanded by MG John J. Pershing in 1916, and the wartime 15th Cavalry Division, which had existed at Fort Bliss between 10 December 1917 and 12 May 1918.
Headquarters, 2nd Cavalry Brigade, had existed at Fort Bliss since 10 December 1917, when it was part of the wartime 15th Cavalry Division. Headquarters, 2nd Cavalry Brigade was deactivated in July of 1919, and was reactivated at Fort Bliss on 31 August 1920.
Headquarters, 1st Cavalry Brigade had previously existed at Fort Sam Houston, but their quarters had been vacated when 1st Cavalry Brigade deactivated in July of 1919. These facilities passed to the 2nd Infantry Division when they returned from France. 1st Cavalry Brigade was reactivated on 31 August 1920 at Douglas, Arizona, occupying the facilities left vacant when Headquarters, 3rd Cavalry Brigade was deactivated in July, 1919.
First Cavalry Division’s Troop List was slowly assembled. The 1st, 7th, and 8th Cavalry Regiments had previously been assigned to the wartime 15th Cavalry Division until they were returned to the VIII Corps Area Troop List on 12 May 1918. 1st Cavalry Regiment remained so assigned until it was transferred to 1st Cavalry Division on 20 August 1921. The 7th, 8th, and 10th Cavalry Regiments were transferred on 13 September 1921, although the assignment of the 10th Cavalry Regiment to the 1st Cavalry Division was controversial because the transfer violated the Jim Crow laws. This controversy continued until 18 December 1922, when the 5th Cavalry Regiment, then on the VIII Corps Area Troop List, swapped places with the 10th Cavalry Regiment on the 1st Cavalry Division Troop List.
After establishing post-World War I divisions, the Army experienced a prolonged period of stagnation and deterioration. The National Defense Act of 1920 authorized a Regular Army of 296,000 men, but Congress gradually backed away from that number. As with the Regular Army, the National Guard never recruited its authorized 486,000 men, and the Organized Reserves became merely a pool of reserve officers. The root of the Army's problem was money. Congress yearly appropriated only about half the funds that the General Staff requested. Impoverished in manpower and funds, infantry and cavalry divisions dwindled to skeletal organizations.
Between 1923 and 1939 divisions gradually declined as fighting organizations. After Regular Army divisions moved to permanent posts, the War Department modified command relationships between divisional units and the corps areas, making division and brigade commanders responsible only for unit training. They were limited to two visits per year to their assigned elements-and that only if corps area commanders made funds available. Later, as a further economy move, the War Department reduced the number of command visits to one per year, a restriction that effectively destroyed the possibility of training units as combined arms teams.
The 1st Cavalry Division illustrated all of the aspects of the Army's dilemma between realism and idealism. In 1923 the 1st Cavalry Division held division maneuvers for the first time, intending to hold them annually thereafter. However, financial constraints made that impossible. Only in 1927, through the generosity of a few ranchers who provided free land, was the division able to conduct such exercises again.
In 1928 Maj. Gen. Herbert B. Crosby, Chief of Cavalry, faced with personnel cuts in his arm, reorganized the cavalry regiments, which in turn reduced the size of the 1st Cavalry Division. Crosby's goal was to decrease overhead while maintaining or increasing firepower in the regiment. After the reorganization each cavalry regiment consisted of a headquarters and headquarters troop; a machine gun troop; a Medical and Chaplain Element; and two squadrons, each with a Headquarters Element; and two Line troops. The cavalry brigades' machine gun squadrons were inactivated, while the responsibility for training and employing machine guns fell to the regimental commanders, as in the infantry.
About the same time that Crosby cut the cavalry regiment, the Army Staff, seeking to increase the usefulness of the wartime cavalry division, published new tables of organization for an even larger unit. The new structure summarized changes made in the division since 1921, which involved increasing the size of the signal troop (177), expanding the medical unit to a squadron (233), and endorsing Crosby's movement of the machine gun units from the brigades to the regiments (2X176). A divisional aviation section, an armored car squadron (278), and tank company (155) were added, and the field artillery battalion was expanded to a regiment (1,717). Divisional strength rose to 9,595. Although the new tables had little impact on the peacetime cavalry structure, the 1st Cavalry Division did eventually receive one troop of an experimental armored car squadron, and a field artillery regiment replaced its field artillery battalion.
With the arrival of the 1930’s, serious work started on the testing and refining of new equipment and TO&Es for a mechanized and motorized Army. To facilitate this, 1st Cavalry Division traded 1st Cavalry Regiment for 12th Cavalry Regiment on 3 January 1933.
Taking into account recommendations from the VIII Corps Area, the Army War College, and the Command and General Staff School, the board developed a new smaller triangular cavalry division, which the 1st Cavalry Division evaluated during maneuvers at Toyahvale, Texas, in 1938. Like the 1937 infantry division test, the maneuvers concentrated on the divisional cavalry regiments around which all other units were to be organized.
Following the test, a board of 1st Cavalry Division officers, headed by Brig. Gen. Kenyon A. Joyce, rejected the three-regiment division and recommended retention of the two-brigade (four-regiment) organization. The latter configuration allowed the division to deploy easily in two columns, which was accepted standard cavalry tactics. However, the board advocated reorganizing the cavalry regiment along triangular lines, which would give it a headquarters and headquarters troop, a machine gun squadron with special weapons and machine gun troops, and three rifle squadrons, each with one machine gun and three rifle troops. No significant change was made in the field artillery, but the test showed that the engineer element should remain a squadron to provide the divisional elements greater mobility on the battlefield and that the special troops idea should be extended to include the division headquarters, signal, and ordnance troops; quartermaster, medical, engineer, reconnaissance, and observation squadrons; and a chemical warfare detachment. One headquarters would assume responsibility for the administration and disciplinary control for these forces.
Although the study did not lead to a general reorganization of the cavalry division, the wartime cavalry regiment was restructured, effective 1 December 1938, to consist of a headquarters and headquarters troop, machine gun and special weapons troops, and three squadrons of three rifle troops each. The special troops remained as structured in 1928, and no observation squadron or chemical detachment found a place in the division. With the paper changes in the cavalry divisions and other minor adjustments, the strength of a wartime divisional rose to 10,680.
In order to prepare for war service, 1st Cavalry Division participated in the following maneuvers:
Toyahvale, TX Maneuvers — 7 October through 30 October 1939.
Cravens-Pitkin Louisiana Maneuvers — 13 August through 24 August 1940.
Second 3rd Army Louisiana maneuvers — 10 August through 4 October 1941.
VIII Corps Louisiana Maneuvers near Mansfield, LA — 27 July 1942 – 21 September 1942.
World War II
With the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the “great laboratory” phase for developing and testing organizations, about which Marshall wrote in the summer of 1941, closed, but the War Department still had not developed ideal infantry, cavalry, armored, and motorized divisions. In 1942 it again revised the divisions based on experiences gained during the great GHQ maneuvers of the previous year. As in the past, the reorganizations ranged from minor adjustments to wholesale changes.
1st Cavalry Division retained its square configuration after the 1941 maneuvers, but with modifications. The division lost its antitank troop, the brigades their weapons troops, and the regiments their machine gun and special weapons troops. These changes brought no decrease in divisional firepower, but placed most weapons within the cavalry troops. The number of .50-caliber machine guns was increased almost threefold. In the reconnaissance squadron, the motorcycle and armored car troops were eliminated, leaving the squadron with one support troop and three reconnaissance troops equipped with light tanks. These changes increased the division from 11,676 to 12,112 officers and enlisted men.
All of the mounted units of the 1st Cavalry Division were stripped of their horses and converted to Infantry on 28 February 1943. The Division shipped out equipped as an Augmented Leg Infantry Division.
1st Cavalry Division reported for its Port Call at Camp Stoneman, CA as follows:
UNIT STAGED DEPART ARRIVED
HHT, 1st Cavalry Division 21 June, 26 June, 11 July
HHT, 1st Cavalry Brigade 21 June, July 03 24 July.
HHT, 2nd Cavalry Brigade 18 June, 26 June, 11 July.
5th Cavalry Regiment 20 June, July 02, 24 July.
7th Cavalry Regiment 18 June, 26 June, 11 July.
8th Cavalry Regiment 18 June, 26 June, 11 July.
12th Cavalry Regiment 20 June, July 03, 24 July.
HHB, 1st Cavalry DIVARTY
61st Field Artillery Battalion July 03, 24 July.
82nd Field Artillery Battalion June 04, 23 June.
99th Field Artillery Battalion 23 May, 23 June.
8th Engineer Squadron 23 May, 18 June.
1st Medical Squadron
16th Quartermaster Squadron
7th Cavalry Recon Squadron 26 June, 11 July.
1st Antitank Troop
1st Signal Troop
The 1st Cavalry Division arrived in Australia as shown above, continued its training at Strathpine, Queensland, until 26 July, then moved to New Guinea to stage for the Admiralties' campaign 22-27 February 1944. The Division saw its first combat in the Admiralty Islands, units landing at Los Negros Island 29 February 1944. Momote airstrip was secured against great odds. Attacks by fanatical Japanese were thrown back, and the enemy force surrounded by the end of March. Nearby islands were taken in April and May. The Division next took part in the invasion of Leyte, 20 October 1944, captured Tacloban and the adjacent airstrip, advanced along the north coast, and secured Leyte Valley, elements landing on and securing Samar Island. Moving down Ormoc Valley (in Leyte) and across the Ormoc plain, the Division reached the west coast of Leyte 1 January 1945. The Division then invaded Luzon, landing in the Lingayen Gulf area 27 January 1945, and fought its way to Manila by 3 February 1945.
Prisoners at Santo Tomas University were liberated and the 1st Cavalry had advanced east of Manila by the middle of February before the city was cleared. On 20 February the Division was assigned the mission of seizing and securing crossings over the Marikina River and securing the Tagaytay-Antipolo Line. After being relieved 12 March in the Antipolo area, elements pushed south into Batangas and Bicol Provinces. They mopped up remaining pockets of resistance in these areas in small unit actions. Resistance was officially declared at an end 1 July 1945. The Division left Luzon 25 August 1945 for occupation duty in Japan, arriving in Yokohama 2 September 1945 and entering Tokyo 8 September, the first United States Division to enter the Japanese capital.
World War II casualties
734 Killed in Action
3,311 Wounded in Action
236 Died of Wounds.
Occupation duty in Japan followed for the next five years. In the summer of 1950, North Korea attacked South Korea, and the 1st Cavalry Division was rushed to Korea to help shore up the Pusan Perimeter. After the X Corps attack at Inchon, a breakout operation was launched at the Pusan Perimeter. The 1st Cavalry Division remained in the line until it was relieved by the 45th Infantry Division from the United States Army National Guard in January 1952. Following the relief, the division returned to Japan.
Korean War Casualties
3,811 Killed in Action
12,086 Wounded in Action
Post-Korean War to Vietnam War
The year 1957 saw the division back in Korea, where it remained until 1965.
The Vietnam War was when the division next saw combat. By this time, it was no longer an infantry unit, but an air assault division as the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile), commonly referred to as the 1st Air Cavalry Division, using helicopters. The division's colors and unit designations were transferred to the 11th Air Assault Division (Test), then at Ft. Benning, Georgia, in July, 1965, and began deploying to Camp Radcliffe, An Khe, Vietnam that month. The division, along with the 101st Airborne Division perfected new tactics and doctrine for helicopter-borne assaults over the next five years in Vietnam.
The unit's first major operation was the Pleiku Campaign. During this action, the division conducted 35 days of continuous airmobile operations. The opening battle, the Battle of Ia Drang Valley, was described in the book We Were Soldiers Once...And Young which was also the basis of the subsequent Mel Gibson film We Were Soldiers. The unit also earned the first Presidential Unit Citation (US) presented to a division during the Vietnam War.
Most of 1967 was spent in Operation Pershing. This was a large scale search of areas in II Corps are which saw 5,400 enemy killed and 2,000 captured. The division re-deployed to Camp Evans, north of Hue in the I Corps Tactical Zone, during the 1968 Tet Offensive, involved in recapturing Quang Tri and Hue. After intense fighting in Hue, the division then moved to relieve Marine Corps units besieged at the Khe Sanh combat base (Operation Pegasus) in March of 1968. The 1st Cavalry Division next conducted major clearing operations in the Ashau Valley from mid-April through mid-May, 1968. From May until September 1968 the division participated in local pacification and "MedCap" (Medical outreach programs to offer medical support to the Vietnamese local population) missions I Corps.
In the autumn of 1968, the 1st Cavalry Division relocated south to the III Corps Tactical Zone northwest of Saigon, adjacent to a Cambodian region commonly referred to as the "Parrots Beak" due to its the map shape. In May, 1970, the division was among U.S. units participating in the Cambodian Incursion, withdrawing from Cambodia on June 29. The division thereafter took a defensive posture while the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Vietnam continued. The bulk of the division was withdrawn on April 29, 1971, but its 3rd Brigade was one of the final two major U.S. ground combat units in Vietnam, departing June 29, 1972. Its 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, as the main unit of Task Force Garryowen, remained another two months.
Casualties in Vietnam
5,444 Killed in Action
26,592 Wounded in Action
Post-Vietnam War to First Gulf War
In the aftermath of Vietnam, the 1st Cavalry Division was converted from the airmobile role into a triple capabilities or TRICAP division. The unit received an infusion of mechanised infantry and artillery, in order to make it capable of missions needing three types of troops; armored, airmobility, and air cavalry. However, the TRICAP concept was short-lived and by 1975, the division was equipped as a heavy armored force.
First Gulf War and Beyond
It next saw combat as a heavy division, in the Gulf War of 1990–1991. The 1st Cavalry Division deployed as part of VII Corps, when American heavy armor forces were deployed abroad in significant numbers for the first time since 1945. The division only had two regular brigades assigned to it at the time, and they both deployed. It was planned to augment the division by attaching the Tiger Brigade from the 2nd Armored Division, but that brigade was attached to Marine Central Command to add heavy armor support to that force. Consequently, the 1st Cavalry Division was assigned the role of corps reserve for much of the ground war, only seeing action in the last few hours.
The division did not take part in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. However, it deployed to Iraq in early 2004, relieving the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad. Among its subordinate formations, it included the 256th Infantry Brigade during that rotation. After spending more than a year in Iraq, it redeployed back to the U.S. by April, 2005. It was relieved by the 3rd Infantry Division. During its deployment the division lost 165 soldiers in combat, while about 1,500 were wounded (out of total establishment of 17,000).
Currently the division is a 4-brigade organization.
The Division received its orders for Iraq earlier in 2006, and are currently Deployed.
Effective 15 July 2005 the 1st Cavalry Division transitioned to the "Unit of Action" modified table of organization and equipment (MTOE). No longer are brigade sized elements made up purely of armor and/or infantry battalions. Brigades are now comprised of Combined Arms Teams (CAB), meaning that every maneuver battalion is identical in organization and makeup to any other maneuver battalion, excluding the brigade reconnaisance squadrons. Each maneuver battalion is now a mixture of infantry, armor, engineer, and miscellaneous support personnel.
The U.S. 1st Cavalry Division consists of the following elements:
Division Special Troops Battalion
Headquarters & Headquarters Company, 1st Cavalry Division
Headquarters Service Company (Battalion HQ, maintenance, & support)
Alpha Company (Signal)
1st Cavalry Division Band
1st Cavalry Division Horse Detachment
1st Brigade, "Iron Horse"
1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry (Recon)
2nd Battalion, 5th Cavalry
2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
1st Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, "Dragons"
115th Brigade Support Battalion
1st Brigade Special Troops Battalion "Centurions"
2nd Brigade, "Blackjack"
4th Squadron, 9th Cavalry (Recon)
1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry, "Black Knights"
1st Battalion, 8th Cavalry
3rd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, "Red Dragons"
15th Brigade Support Battalion
2nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, "Spartans"
3rd Brigade, "Grey Wolf"
6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry (Recon)
3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry
1st Battalion, 12th Cavalry, "Chargers"
2nd Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery, "Steel Dragons"
215th Brigade Support Battalion
3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion
4th Brigade "Long Knife" (Fort Bliss, Texas)
1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry (Recon)
2nd Battalion, 7th Cavalry
2nd Battalion, 12th Cavalry
5th Battalion, 82nd Field Artillery
27th Brigade Support Battalion
4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion
1st Air Cavalry Brigade, "Warrior"
1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment
2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment
3rd Battalion, 227th Aviation
4th Battalion, 227th Aviation
615th Aviation Support Battalion
15th Support Brigade, "Wagon Master"
15th Brigade Special Troops Battalion
15th Personnel Support Battalion
4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division
Reorganized and Redesignated on 16 April 1984 4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry became provisional 16 April 1984, with the first commander being Colonel Robert. A. Goodbary. 4th Brigade was born out of the Division 86 concept of a Combat Aviation Brigade, Air Attack (CBAA), activated 1 September 1984, a unit designed with the expressed task of exploiting the speed, mobility, and lethality of the helicopter, which Army Aviation offers the newest member of the Combined Arms Team.
4th Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division is the first CAB in a heavy division. The brigade was formed from the remnants of the 1st Cavalry Division’s former 11th Aviation Group—specifically the 227th Aviation Battalion, the 228th Attack Helicopter Battalion, and the Division’s reconnaissance squadron the 1st of the 9th Cavalry. These two aviation battalions combined with 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry gave the CAB support, attack, scout, and observation capabilities. Having such versatile units provides the Brigade with a unique, potent fighting capability.
The unique mission of this brigade has made it a principal member of the Combined Arms Team, adding new dimensions for dramatic enhancement of the fighting power of the division. Added mobility enables the Combat Aviation Brigade to fight in more than one direction, at the same time performing multiple missions such as screening, rear area combat operations, and support of another brigades. While the brigade has the ability to perform as a maneuver unit, it is also well suited to provide direct support to engaged units.
The brigade is presently composed of the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment; 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry; 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regiment (GSAB); and the Brigade Headquarters Troop, and supported staff. Since activation, 4th Brigade participated in numerous JTXs, FTXs, NTC rotations, and CPXs. 1-227th most recently participated as an element of 11th Aviation.
Divisional history from: