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, beach landing at Anzio to the end of the war in the Italian Alps. Maintaining a forward presence in the cold war in Germany, its stunning victories in the Persian Gulf War to the Global War on terrorism in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. In peace or war, the "Old Ironsides" Division has amassed a proud record of service to America. The current home of the Division is at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The unit motto is"Iron Soldier." This is used in greeting a senior NCO or Officer of the Division.
Unit Insignia: 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 cannon represents fire power, the track represents mobility, and the lighting bolt represents speed and shock force.
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. This "pyramid of power" was devised by the order of then-Lieutenant Col. George S. Patton, Jr. in Bourg, France in early 1918 during Patton's formation and training of the Tank Corps in support of the American Expeditionary Force under General John J. Pershing.
Commander:MG Orlando Ward He left that post (and was promoted major general) to become the second commander of the U.S. Army's 1st Armored Division. He supervised the deployment of his division across the Atlantic to North Africa, which was brought piecemeal (with a layover in Northern Ireland) as part of Operation Torch and subsequent operations. The failure of 1st Armored to arrive intact and deploy as a single entity would have important consequences in later action against German forces in Tunisia.
Commander:MG Ernest N. Harmon Major-General Harmon had been in Thala on the Algerian border, witnessing the stubborn resistance of the British Nickforce, which held the vital road leading into the Kasserine Pass against the heavy pressure of the German 10th Panzer Division, which was under Rommel's direct command.When the U.S. 9th Infantry Division's attached artillery arrived in Thala after a four-day, 800-mile march, it seemed like a godsend to Harmon. The 9th's artillery did stay, and with its 48 guns raining a whole year's worth of a (peacetime) allotment of shells, stopped the advancing Germans in their tracks. Unable to retreat under the withering fire, the Afrika Corps finally withdrew after dark. With the defeat at Thala, Rommel decided to end his offensive.
Commander:MG Martin E. Dempsey In June 2003, then Brigadier General Dempsey assumed command of 1st Armored Division. Dempsey's command of the 1st Armored Division lasted until July 2005 and included 13 months in Iraq, from June 2003 to July 2004. While in Iraq, 1st Armored Division, in addition to its own brigades, had operational command over the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, numerous Army National Guard units and a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division; the command, called "Task Force Iron" in recognition of the Division's nickname, "Old Ironsides", was the largest division-level command in the history of the United States Army.
It was during this time that the U.S. intervention in Iraq changed dramatically as Fallujah fell to Sunni extremists and supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr built their strength and rose up against American forces. Then Major General Dempsey and his command assumed responsibility for the Area of Operations in Baghdad as the insurgency incubated, grew, and exploded. General Dempsey has been described by Thomas Ricks in his book "Fiasco": "In the capital itself, the 1st Armored Division, after Sanchez assumed control of V Corps, was led by Gen. Martin Dempsey, was generally seen as handling a difficult (and inherited) job well, under the global spotlight of Baghdad." General Dempsey is now serving as the current Joint Chiefs of Staff.
MOH Recipient:Pvt Nicholas Minue Nicholas Minue received the Medal of Honor for military service on behalf of the United States of America in World War II. He received this recognition for charging a group of German soldiers that had a machine-gun position near Medjez El Bab, Tunisia. He died during the charge.
MOH Recipient:2LT Thomas Fowler Thomas Weldon Fowler was a former student of the Texas A&M University, a United States Army officer, and a recipient of America's highest military decoration "the Medal of Honor" for his actions leading a combined armor-infantry attack near Carano in the Anzio Beachhead Italy in World War II.
Silver Star Recipient:T5 Henry Guarnere Henry J. Guarnere, an Army Medic, the brother of the famous Sgt William "Wild Bill" Guarnere of Easy Company, 506th P.I.R., 101st Airborne Division, and a recipient of America's third highest military decoration - the Silver Star. As Army Medical Aidman, he rescued a Soldier during heavy counter battery fire in a gun section that was seriously wounded and unable to reach shelter in Tunisia, Africa during World War II. Tech 5 Henry Guarnere was killed in action on 6th January, 1944 while serving with the 47th Armored Medical Battalion in Northern Italy.
Silver Star Recipient:2LT John P Souther awarded the Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving with the 1st Armored Division during World War II. He called in division artillery on an exposed position of 500 Germans while under direct fire after his vehicle was knocked out by a German 88mm gun. His actions resulted all of the enemy being killed. He later retired as a LTC in the US Army Reserves and was the President of the 1st Armored Division Association in 1990. He wrote several books on his wartime experiences. He passed away in 2006 in Georgia.
Distinguished Service Cross Recipient:General John Knight Waters , LTC Waters was the son in law of the famous General Patton of II Corps at the time he was taken as a prisoner of war in Tunisia during the battle of of Sidi Bouzid, Feb 1943. He was the commander of the 1st Armored Regiment (light), 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. 26 March,1945, General Patton set up the controversial Task Force Baum to break him out.The mission was a complete failure.He was later released two weeks later in April 1945 by units of the 14th Armored Division. LTC Waters later retired as a four star general, who served as commander, U.S. Army, Pacific from 1964 to 1966.
In June 2004, under the auspices of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1546 the Coalition transferred limited sovereignty to a caretaker government, whose first act was to begin the trial of Saddam Hussein. The government began the process of moving towards elections, though the insurgency, and the lack of cohesion within the government itself, led to repeated delays.
Militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr used his grass-roots organization and Mahdi Militia of over a thousand armed men to take control of the streets of Baghdad. The CPA soon realized it had lost control and closed down his popular newspaper. This resulted in mass anti-American demonstrations. The CPA then attempted to arrest al-Sadr on murder charges. He defied the American military by taking refuge in the Holy City of Najaf.
Through the months of July and August, a series of skirmishes in and around Najaf culminated with the Imman Ali Mosque itself under siege, only to have a peace deal brokered by al-Sistani in late August. Al-Sadr then declared a national cease fire, and opened negotiations with the American and government forces. His militia was incorporated into the Iraqi security forces and al-Sadr is now a special envoy. This incident was the turning point in the failed American efforts to install Ahmed Chalabi as leader of the interim government. The CPA then put Iyad Allawi in power; ultimately he was only marginally more popular than Chalabi.
The Allawi government, with significant numbers of holdovers from the Coalition Provisional Authority, began to engage in attempts to secure control of the oil infrastructure, the source of Iraq's foreign currency, and control of the major cities of Iraq. The continuing insurgencies, poor state of the Iraqi Army, disorganized condition of police and security forces, as well as the lack of revenue hampered their efforts to assert control. In addition, both former Ba'athist elements and militant Shia groups engaged in sabotage, terrorism, open rebellion, and establishing their own security zones in all or part of a dozen cities. The Allawi government vowed to crush resistance, using U.S. troops, but at the same time negotiated with Muqtada al-Sadr.
Offensives and counteroffensives
Beginning 8 November, American and Iraqi forces invaded the militant stronghold of Fallujah in Operation Phantom Fury, killing and capturing many insurgents. Many rebels were thought to have fled the city before the invasion. U.S.-backed figures put insurgency losses at over 2,000. It was the bloodiest single battle for the U.S. in the war, with 92 Americans dead and several hundred wounded. A video showing the killing of at least one unarmed and wounded man by an American serviceman surfaced, throwing renewed doubt and outrage at the efficiency of the U.S. occupation. The Marine was later cleared of any wrongdoing because the Marines had been warned that the enemy would sometimes feign death and booby-trap bodies as a tactic to lure Marines to their deaths. November was the deadliest month of the occupation for coalition troops, surpassing April.
Another offensive was launched by insurgents during the month of November in Mosul. U.S. forces backed by peshmerga fighters launched a counteroffensive which resulted in the Battle of Mosul (2004). The fighting in Mosul occurred concurrently with the fighting in Fallujah and attributed to the high number of American casualties taken that month.
In December, 14 American soldiers were killed and over a hundred injured when an explosion struck an open-tent mess hall in Mosul, where President Bush had spent Thanksgiving with troops the year before. The explosion is believed to have come from a suicide bomber.
After a review of the military strategy in the end of 2004, then commanding general of the MNF-I, General George W. Casey, Jr. directed the Coalition forces to shift their focus from fighting insurgents to training Iraqis. At the time, the Iraqi insurgency was mainly directed against the occupation and it was believed that if the Coalition would reduce its presence then the insurgency would diminish. Military planners hoped that national elections would change the perception of being under occupation, stabilize the situation and allow the Coalition to reduce its presence.
Iraqi elections and aftermath
Voters in the 2005 Iraqi legislative election
Main article: Iraqi legislative election, January 2005
On 30 January, an election for a government to draft a permanent constitution took place. Although some violence and lack of widespread Sunni Arab participation marred the event, most of the eligible Kurd and Shia populace participated. On 4 February, Paul Wolfowitz announced that 15,000 U.S. troops whose tours of duty had been extended in order to provide election security would be pulled out of Iraq by the next month. February, March and April proved to be relatively peaceful months compared to the carnage of November and January, with insurgent attacks averaging 30 a day from the average 70.
Hopes for a quick end to an insurgency and a withdrawal of U.S. troops were dashed at the advent of May, Iraq's bloodiest month since the invasion of U.S. forces in March and April 2003. Suicide bombers, believed to be mainly disheartened Iraqi Sunni Arabs, Syrians and Saudis, tore through Iraq. Their targets were often Shia gatherings or civilian concentrations mainly of Shias. As a result, over 700 Iraqi civilians died in that month, as well as 79 U.S. soldiers.
A large weapons cache in New Ubaydi is destroyed
During early and mid-May, the U.S. also launched Operation Matador, an assault by around 1,000 Marines in the ungoverned region of western Iraq. Its goal was the closing of suspected insurgent supply routes of volunteers and material from Syria, and with the fight they received their assumption proved correct. Fighters armed with flak jackets (unseen in the insurgency by this time) and sporting sophisticated tactics met the Marines, eventually inflicting 30 U.S. casualties by the operation's end, and suffering 125 casualties themselves.
The Marines succeeded, recapturing the whole region and even fighting insurgents all the way to the Syrian border, where they were forced to stop (Syrian residents living near the border heard the American bombs very clearly during the operation). The vast majority of these armed and trained insurgents quickly dispersed before the U.S. could bring the full force of its firepower on them, as it did in Fallujah.
Announcements and renewed fighting
On 14 August 2005 the Washington Post quoted one anonymous U.S. senior official expressing that "the United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges... 'What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground'".
On 22 September 2005, Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, said he had warned the Bush administration that Iraq was hurtling toward disintegration, and that the election planned for December was unlikely to make any difference. U.S. officials immediately made statements rejecting this view.
Constitutional ratification and elections
The National Assembly elected in January had drafted a new constitution to be ratified in a national referendum on 15 October 2005. For ratification, the constitution required a majority of national vote, and could be blocked by a two thirds "no" vote in each of at least three of the 18 governorates. In the actual vote, 79% of the voters voted in favor, and there was a two thirds "no" vote in only two governorates, both predominantly Sunni. The new Constitution of Iraq was ratified and took effect. Sunni turnout was substantially heavier than for the January elections, but insufficient to block ratification.
Elections for a new Iraqi National Assembly were held under the new constitution on 15 December 2005. This election used a proportional system, with approximately 25% of the seats required to be filled by women. After the election, a coalition government was formed under the leadership of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, with Jalal Talabani as president.