Taken from globalsecurity.org website
The 1st Armored Division is the oldest and most prestigious
armored division in the United States Army. From its desert tank battles against
Field Marshall Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, to its stunning victories in the
Persian Gulf War, in peace or war, the "Old Ironsides" Division has
amassed a proud record of service to America.
Soon after the activation of the 1st Armored Division at Fort
Knox on July 15, 1940, its first commander, Major General Bruce R. Magruder,
began searching for an appropriate nickname for the division. In 1941 General
George S. Patton Jr. had just named his 2nd Armored Division "Hell on
Wheels" and everyone thought that the 1st Armored Division needed a name
too. General Bruce Magruder, the Commander of the 1st Armored Division,
announced a contest to find a suitable name for his Division. Approximately 200
names were submitted including "Fire and Brimstone" and "Kentucky
Wonders." The General took them home to study over the weekend but failed
to find any that appealed to him. While mulling the matter over, he happened to
glance at a picture of the U.S.S. Constitution that he had bought during a drive
for funds for the preservation of that famous fighting ship known as "Old
Ironsides." That ended the search for a name. Impressed with the parallel
between the early development of the tank and the Navy's "Old
Ironsides" spirit of daring and durability he decided the 1st Armored
Division should also be named "Old Ironsides." Thus a famous warship
of the US Navy and the famous 1st Armored Division of the US Army are
historically and appropriately welded by name "Old Ironsides."
As part of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French
Northwest Africa, November 8, 1942. In doing so, Old Ironsides became the first
American Armored Division to see combat. Although encountering unexpectedly
heavy Vichy-French opposition, the Allied invasion force suppressed all
resistance in the beachhead within three days. The Division then advanced toward
Tunisia where it clashed with Axis forces and learned many hard lessons in
armored warfare. Harsh conditions and primitive roads spoiled an early
opportunity to capture Tunisia and cut off Rommel's supply lines. January 1943
found the Division under control of the II Corps. Old Ironsides received the
mission of defending central Tunisia against an Axis counterattack. A month
later, the 1st Armored Division collided with a superior German armored force at
Kasserine Pass. Sustaining heavy personnel and equipment losses, Old Ironsides
withdrew, battered but wiser. Outrunning his supply lines and facing stiffening
Allied resistance, Rommel's advance ground to a halt. Regardless, three more
months of fierce fighting followed before the Allies could finally claim victory
in North Africa.
The fall of Sicily in the summer of 1943 cleared the way for
an Allied Invasion of the Italian mainland. As part of General Mark Clark's
Fifth Army, the 1st Armored Division crushed enemy resistance in an assault
landing at Salerno on September 9, and led the drive to Naples. The city fell on
October 1, and the Allies pressed onto the Volturno River. In November, the 1st
Armored Division attacked the infamous Winter Line. Although breaching the line,
the Allied advance came to a halt in the mountainous country near Cassino. To
break the stalemate, the Allies made an amphibious assault well behind enemy
lines at Anzio on January 23, 1944. Beating back repeated German counterattacks,
the 1st Armored Division led the Allied breakout from the beachead on May 23,
and spearheaded the drive to Rome, liberating the city on June 4. The 1st
Armored Division continued its pursuit of the enemy to the North Apennies where
the Germans made their last stand. Rugged mountains and winter weather now stood
between the Allies and the open land of the Po Valley. The 1st Armored Division
broke into the valley in April 1945 and on May 2, 1945, German forces in Italy
In June 1945 the 1st Armored Division was transferred to
Germany to serve as part of the Allied occupation forces. Old Ironsides returned
to the United States in April 1946 and was inactivated at Camp Kilmer, New
Jersey. Several of the Division's Units, however, remained in Germany as part of
the U.S. Constabulary.
The success of the Russian made T-34 Tank at the outbreak of
the Korean War in 1950 brought renewed enthusiasm for armor. As part of the
Korean War build up of American forces, the 1st Armored Division was reactivated
at Fort Hood, Texas on March 7, 1951. Continuing its tradition of
"firsts", Old Ironsides became one of the first divisions in the Army
to integrate black soldiers throughout the ranks. It was also the only
combat-ready armored division in the continental United States and the first to
receive the M48 Patton Tank.
Training for nuclear war became a major theme in the
mid-1950s. Accordingly, the 1st Armored Division participated in tests of the
"Atomic Field Army" at Fort Hood and in Operation Sagebrush, the
largest joint maneuver conducted since World War II. Upon completion of the
exercise in February 1956, the 1st Armored Division moved to its new home at
Fort Polk, Louisiana.
Toward the end of the 1950s, the Army's preoccupation with a
nuclear battlefield waned. The Army experienced years of austere budgets.
Reduced in size and moved back to Fort Hood, the 1st Armored Division reverted
to a training cadre for new inductees. The start of the 1960s, however,
inaugurated a period of military renewal. Important changes in organization,
doctrine, and equipment stemmed from the realization that the Army must be
prepared to fight anytime, anywhere. In 1962, the 1st Armored Division was
brought back to full strength and reorganized. Brigades replaced Combat
Commands, and the Division's aviation assets doubled.
Intense training followed the reorganization. In October 1962
the 1st Armored Division was declared combat ready, just in time for the Cuban
Missile Crisis. In response to the Soviet stationing of missiles in Cuba, Old
Ironsides deployed from Fort Hood, Texas to Fort Stewart. The entire operation
took just 18 days. For the next six weeks, the 1st Armored Division conducted
live-fire training and amphibious exercises on the Georgia and Florida coasts.
One highlight was a visit from President John F. Kennedy on November 26, 1962.
Shortly thereafter, tensions eased and the 1st Armored Division returned to Ft.
Although the 1st Armored Division did not
participate as a Division in the Vietnam War, two units, Company A, 501st
Aviation and 1st Squadron, 1st Calvary served with distinction. Both earned
Presidential Unit Citations, and 1-1 Cavalry received two Valorous Unit Awards
and three Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry. Neither unit was officially detached
from the 1st Armored Division and veterans of both units may wear the Old
Ironsides as a combat patch. In 1967 the 198th Infantry Brigade was formed from
three of the Division's Infantry Battalions and deployed from Fort Hood to
Vietnam. After the war, two of the three battalions, 1-6 Infantry and 1-52
Infantry, returned to the 1st Armored Division.
1968 was a crisis-filled year of domestic unrest. After the
assassination of Martin Luther King, several inner cities exploded into
violence. The 3rd Brigade deployed to Chicago to assist in restoring order.
The early 1970's brought the withdrawal of American Forces
from Vietnam and a major restructuring of the Army. Old Ironsides was rumored to
be on the list of units to be inactivated. Veterans of the Division organized a
letter-writing campaign to "save" the 1st Armored Division. Their
efforts were rewarded when on May 10, 1971, 1st Armored Division left its home
at Fort Hood, Texas to replace the 4th Armored Division in Germany.
Old Ironsides marched into its second half century
celebrating victory in the Cold War - a triumph symbolized by the fall of the
Berlin Wall, the unification of Germany, and the crumbling of East European,
Almost immediately the 1st Armored Division was called upon
to meet a new challenge. In November 1990 it was alerted for deployment to the
Middle East in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. In less than two months
the Division moved 17,400 soldiers and 7,050 pieces of equipment by rail, sea,
and air to Saudi Arabia for Operation Desert Shield/Storm. The Division's own
1st Brigade stayed in Germany and was replaced by 3d Brigade, 3d Infantry
Division. On February 24, 1991, the 1st Armored Division crossed into Iraq
leading VII Corp's main flanking attack - its mission to destroy the elite,
Iraqi Republican Guards Divisions. In its 89-hour blitz across the desert Old
Ironsides traveled 250 kilometers; destroyed 768 tanks, APCs and artillery
pieces; and captured 1,064 prisoners of war. Four 1st Armored Division soldiers
made the ultimate sacrifice in this historic effort. Old Ironsides marked its
successful return to Germany on May 8, 1991, when MG Griffith uncased the
Division Colors in Ansbach. The 1st Armored Division celebrated its triumph with
a visit from the Vice President of the United States and attendance at victory
parades in Washington, D.C. and New York City.
On December 14, 1995, the 1st Armored Division was ordered to
Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. This task force, known
as Task Force Eagle, assumed control of its area of responsibility during a
transfer of authority ceremony with United Nations forces at Eagle Base, Tulza
on December 20, 1995. After the historic bridging of the Sava River on December
31, 1995, the Old Ironsides Division, with supporting forces from the 5th U.S.
Corps, was joined by Nordic-Polish, Turkish, and Russian brigades - in total -
12 Nations: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway,
Poland, Russia, Sweden, Turkey, and the United States.
Task Force Eagle, one of the most powerful military
formations ever fielded, enforced the cease-fire, supervised the marking of
boundaries and the zone of separation between the former warring factions,
enforced withdrawal of the combatants, and the movement of the heavy weapons to
designated storage sites. Task Force Eagle also supported the Organization for
Security and Cooperation in Europe's efforts to administer the country's first
ever democratic national elections. On November 10, 1996, the 1st Armored
Division transferred authority for command and control of Task Force Eagle to
the 1st Infantry Division. The 1st Infantry Division deployed as a covering
force to allow the safe return of the 1st Armored Division to Germany.
In April 1999, the 1st Armored Division was alerted to send
soldier to Albania as part of Operation Allied Force in response to the ethnic
cleansing and fighting in Kosovo. The 1st Armored Division then sent the first
soldiers into Kosovo in operation Joint Guardian to uphold the United Nations
Security Council resolution to bring peace back to the Kosovo region.
First Armored Division began the year 2000 with a bang as the
1st Brigade Combat Team blasted its way through the rolling fog of Grafenwoehr
Training Area in a challenging January gunnery. Second Brigade struck hard in
validating the Immediate Reaction Force in a frosty-February exercise designed
to deploy a highly effective battalion-sized force anywhere in the European
Command's theater of operations within 48 hours.
February 2000 also saw 1st Armored Division Headquarters
announce the closure of military facilities in Bad Kreuznach and subsequent
relocation to Wiesbaden scheduled for June 2001. First Armored Division rocked
HTA and GTA in three seperate exercises in March. Ready First stormed into
Hohenfels Training Area for Mountain Guardian III, a Mission Rehearsal Exercise
designed to test the limits of Iron Soldiers preparing to deploy to Task Force
Falcon 2A. Fourth Brigade and 2-3 Field Artillery combined the bone-jarring
shock of the M109 Paladin with the lethality and pin-point-precision of Apache
and Kiowa Warrior helicopters in a Fire Control Exercise.
First Armored Division's command and control elements pushed
the envelope during a highly effective Warfighter in GTA, March 21-April 17.
First Armored Division took command of Task Force Falcon in Kosovo as Brig. Gen.
Randal Tieszen accepted the colors from 1st Infantry Division's Brig. Gen.
Ricardo Sanchez. First Armored Division celebrated its 60th birthday at home and
abroad in Kosovo, July 15.
Second Brigade blistered through a July gunnery while 3rd
Brigade's Task Force 2-70 mounted up and rode out from Ft. Riley, Kan., on their
way down the long, dusty trail to Kuwait. Maj. Gen. George W. Casey, Jr.
traveled to Boston Harbor in August where he forged a new bond with Commander
Bill Foster, of the USS Constitution. The meeting rekindled the fires of a
60-year love affair between the prestigious ship "Old Ironsides" and
1st Armored Division. The clear, ocean-side skies of Putlos, Germany ran red in
the September sun and the fiery explosions of the 1-4 Air Defense Artillery
gunnery. The battalion made the most out of its first gunnery as a whole in
15 September 2000 marked a great day for 1st Armored Division
as the 1-94 Field Artillery (MLRS) stood up at Strassburg Kaserne. Second
Brigade's preparation for Kosovo became fully realized during Mountain Guardian
IV in Ocotober. Lessons learned in Kosovo were applied to make this the most
challenging and exciting MRE ever. SETAF and 1st Armored Division's 1-1 Cavalry
teamed up to save the day during an October CMTC rotation that combined light
forces and heavy-mechanized forces to throw back an ever relentless OPFOR.
Second Brigade began deploying at the end of November and officially took
command of Task Force Falcon on Dec. 18. First Brigade began redeploying to
Germany from six months in Kosovo at the beginning of December. Thanks to the
hard work by both brigades the transition was effective and seamless.
The 1st Armored Division received orders on March 4, 2003, to
deploy to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in support of the
global war on terrorism and to prepare for future contingencies as may be
directed. The deployment was to consist of the whole division. However, on March
14, Stars & Stripes reported that 1AD had been ordered to put their
deployment on hold as transporting the division's equipment to the AOR had been
complicated by the refusal of Turkey to permit the 4th Infantry Division to
stage from its territory.
In the DoD's 2005 BRAC report, DoD recommended relocating 1st
Armored Division from Germany and to Fort Bliss, TX. Relocating 1st Armored
Division units and echelons above division (EAD) units to Fort Bliss would
transform it from an institutional training installation into a major mounted
maneuver training installation and would avoid overcrowding and overuse at other