History of the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade was constituted in the Regular Army as Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, Cavalry Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas on 1 September 1984 and activated on 16 September 1984. The speed, mobility, and flexibility of the brigade provides the Division Commander with the organic capability to shape the entire battlefield and respond with the necessary tempo and lethality of modern warfare. The brigade is composed of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, one attack battalion, one reconnaissance squadron, a general support aviation battalion, an air assault battalion, and an aviation support battalion.
The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade’s mission is to find, fix, and destroy enemy forces using maneuver to concentrate and sustain combat power as an integrated member of a combined armed team. 1ACB destroys enemy forces using fire, maneuver, and shock effect. It conducts reconnaissance security operations and provides C2 support. As a member of the “First Team”, the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade enhances the overall effectiveness of the division and gives the Division Commander a highly flexible, responsive, and lethal combat multiplier.
The 1ACB traces its history back to early 1963, when the Army began to gather helicopters into the 11th Air Assault Division and first tested the airmobile concept. After validation of the airmobile concept, the units were reassigned to the 1st Cavalry Division (Airmobile). On 1 August 1965, the 1st Cavalry Division was sent to Vietnam. 1st Cavalry Division Aviators participated in 14 campaigns and received seven unit decorations to include the Presidential Unit Citation (2 awards), the Valorous Unit Award (3 awards), the Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (3 awards), and the Republic of Vietnam Civil Action Honor Medal, First Class, during its 7 years of duty in Vietnam. The first Army Aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Vietnam War was a member of the 227th Aviation Battalion.
In late 1990, the brigade deployed to Saudi Arabia, where the unit prepared for combat in Operation Desert Shield. On 25 February 1991, with the onset of Operation Desert Storm, the brigade conducted a raid as part of the 1st Cavalry Division’s deception plan against Iraqi forces. Later, the brigade served as the vanguard of the division’s movement north to cut off a retreating Iraqi Republican Guard Division at Basra. The brigade received the Meritorious Unit Commendation for Southwest Asia.
The brigade again proved its timely responsiveness in January 1993, deploying command and control aircraft to Kuwait. With 48 hours notice, the brigade deployed to Somalia, where it flew over 500 hours of combat missions. On 16 October 1996, the brigade was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Aviation Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The changing threat was next met in Bosnia, when in 1999, the brigade deployed to Operation Joint Forge. Units flew in the Balkans in support of Stabilization Force 4. Missions performed ranged from multi-national general support airborne command and control, to air movement operations. In recognition of their performance in the Balkans, 2nd Battalion, 227th Aviation Regimen was selected as the Army Aviation Association of America’s (AAAA) Aviation Unit of the Year.
With the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003, the brigade deployed the 1st Battalion, 227th Aviation to Iraq to exercise their Longbow apaches in combat operations for the first time. There, they set conditions for the defeat of Saddam’s Army and the liberation of Baghdad. In the early hours of 24 March 2003, Apache Longbows of the 1st Cavalry Division fought a fierce battle with units of Iraq’s Republican Guard between the cities of Karbala and Al Hilah, south of Baghdad.
During March 2004, the brigade deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom II as part of Task force Baghdad. The brigade developed and implemented new techniques for air/ground integration using lethal and agile teams, and was instrumental in enabling the first free elections in Iraq in 50 years. The brigade flew over 70,000 hours and was recognized with 84 awards for valor including a Silver Star and seven Distinguished Flying Crosses. During this deployment, the brigade was also recognized as the 2004 AAAA Aviation Unit of the Year.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the brigade deployed 2nd Battalio9n, 227th Aviation and the brigade command team to Louisiana to support disaster relief operations in New Orleans. Immediately upon redeployment, 2-227 Aviation and the brigade command team deployed to East Texas to assist relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Rita.
The 1st air Cavalry Brigade deployed to Iraq in 2006 and conducted full spectrum combat operations in support of the “Surge” from Camp Taji, flying over 90,000 combat hours during eh 15 month deployment. During this deployment an Army Aviator from 1-227th Aviation was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross posthumously, the highest award for valor received by a First Team Trooper in Iraq. Upon redeployment in January 2008, the brigade reset and was fielded the CH-47F in preparation for its next deployment to Camp Taji in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 09-10. The brigade witnessed the transformation of security responsibility to the Iraqi security apparatus and supported the Iraqi government as it accepted responsibility for ht safety and welfare of its people.
Following a fourth combat deployment to Iraq, the brigade deployed to Afghanistan in 2011, where it supported NATO and coalition forces in four of Afghanistan’s six regional commands with multifunctional battalion task forces operating in 12 locations. Flying over 60,000 hours in some of the most demanding terrain, the brigade provided a full spectrum of aviation capabilities to US, ISAF, and Afghan security forces for 12 intense months.
The agile and lethal 1st Air Cavalry Brigade continues to “live the Legend” in the 1st Cavalry Division, as they have done since 1984. The 1st Air Cavalry Brigade stands ready to fight and win anytime and anywhere.