Story by. Capt. Taylor Criswell, 1st Air Cavalry Brigade Public Affairs
ILLESHEIM, Germany–The 1st Combat Aviation Brigade (1CAB), 1st Infantry Division officially cased its colors as they handed over the aviation component of Atlantic Resolve to 1st Air Cavalry Brigade (1ACB), 1st Cavalry Division in an official ceremony held at Illesheim Army Air Base, Germany, Dec. 15, 2021.
Held inside a large aviation hangar, the ceremony backdrop was a monumental U.S. flag reminiscent of the opening scene from “Patton.” U.S. Army division history was on exhibition with the legendary “Big Red One” patch on the fronts of podiums and programs, and, of course, “Cav Hats” and spurs sported by America’s “First Team.”
The Veitshöchheim Army Music Corps, Würzburg supported the ceremony by performing dynamic renditions of the national anthems for Germany and the United States. The musical handshake could not have been more appropriate as it meaningfully painted the unique friendship between both countries.
Only brigade and battalion command teams, including representative leaders, participated in the massed formation of troops. Most of the 1st CAB personnel have already redeployed, and 1ACB is already participating in its first field training event to demonstrate capabilities and readiness.
Maj. Gen. Jeffery Broadwater, deputy commanding general of the recently reactivated V Corps attended the ceremony. The ceremony was hosted by Brig. Gen. Andrew Gainey, deputy commanding general of 1st Infantry Division. Local community partners, both military and civilian, observed as 1CAB leaders cased its colors for ceremonious return to Fort Riley, and “Air Cav” commanders uncased the colors of 1ACB.
“From establishing relationships throughout Europe, to simply building interoperability in all aspects of their mission, the Demon leadership demonstrated excellence in all phases of this deployment,” said Gainey. “To their credit, they executed more than 15,000 flying hours, conducted 12 top-tier exercises in 15 different countries, engaged in continuous live-fire certifications and countless hours of maintenance while overcoming a global pandemic.”
For the past nine months, 1st CAB has been living and training with partner and ally militaries across Europe in countries such as Romania, Estonia, the Netherlands, Poland, and Germany to increase interoperability and enhance an already strong bond. They participated in multiple, multi-national, large-scale exercises such as Saber Junction, Agile Spirit, and Defender 21.
“When I think about these transfer of authority ceremonies, it reminds me of the commitment the United States has to our European allies and partners,” said Col. Jason Arriaga, commander of the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade. “The 1st Infantry Division Soldiers you see in front of you arrived in Europe at the beginning of the year and spent the last nine months training all over the continent; Germany, Latvia, Poland, Estonia, Greece, Bulgaria, and the Netherlands, just to name a few.”
“We depart Europe a well-trained and ready brigade,” said Arriaga.
1st Lt. April Mattos, Adjutant for 1CAB and CH-47 Chinook pilot, said that the “highlight of the rotation for many 1CAB Troopers was Defender 21.” She said the opportunity to work autonomously and truly test mission command was challenging and rewarding. She also described working with other countries and militaries as “a great experience.”
“Air Cav” is no stranger to Illesheim. 1ACB served as the Regionally Aligned Force for Atlantic Resolve in 2018. Ganey said “they know the importance of this mission and are ready to deter aggression against any adversary threatening our NATO allies and partners in Europe.”
“It is great to be here in Europe, especially in Germany where the generosity and warmth of everyone here in Bavaria is unmatched,” said Col. Reggie Harper, commander of 1ACB. “As we take on our mission to deter any who would seek to impose their will on freedom-loving people in Europe and to reassure our allies and partners- my foremost pledge is to remain ready.”
Harper said “we are ready to fly to the sound of guns with and for our friends. When we arrive, we will win – together.”
The conclusion of the event was punctuated by the Veitshöchheim Army Music Corps performing the official division songs, “Big Red One” and “Spirit of the Cav,” with “The Army Song” as the finale.
1ACB will operate primarily out of Germany but will have forward operating stations in other Atlantic Resolve participating countries, such as Greece and Romania. The brigade is aligned under the mission command of the 1st Infantry Division (1ID) Forward. The 1st Cavalry Division Forward preceded 1ID as the mission command element for Atlantic Resolve, transferring authority in July 2021.
Since April 2014, U.S. Army Europe and Africa has led the Department of Defense’s Atlantic Resolve land efforts by rotating units based in the U.S. to Europe. There are four types of U.S. Army Atlantic Resolve rotations – armored, aviation, sustainment task force and division headquarters. Rotational units conduct bilateral, joint and multinational training events across more than a dozen countries. Atlantic Resolve is funded by the European Deterrence Initiative, which enables the U.S. to enhance deterrence, increase readiness and support NATO.
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