Troops arrive in Europe in time for anniversary of D-Day
By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: February 21, 2019
The 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade took the stick for the aviation element of Operation Atlantic Resolve during a transfer of authority ceremony Thursday in Illesheim, Germany.
The Fort Riley, Kan.-based brigade took over the mission from the 4th CAB, part of the 4th Infantry Division, which will be returning back to Fort Carson, Colo., after a nine-month rotation to Europe.
This is the second transfer of authority to 1st Infantry Division units in Europe in nine days. The division’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team took over the continuing nine-month tank duty in Eastern Europe from the Fort Hood, Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st ABCT on Feb. 12.
Atlantic Resolve is the United States ongoing mission to provide security to Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.
The division has had a long presence in Europe, including World War I, WWII and the occupation of Germany. After participating in the Vietnam War during the 1960s, elements of the division returned to Europe and served in the Balkans in the 1990s. Until 2006, the division was based in Wuerzburg, Germany.
The current mission involves a continuous presence of armored and aviation elements rotating “heel-to-toe” in Central and Eastern Europe as a contingency force, instead of permanently stationing the troops there.
The Polish Defense Ministry has sought to have the Americans permanently based there, with officials offering to pitch in funding for the facility, which Polish President Andrzej Duda has proposed naming “Fort Trump.” But other NATO allies like Germany favor the rotational units, so as not to provoke unwanted aggression from Russia by placing a U.S. base right on its border with Poland.
During their deployment, the division’s soldiers are expected to conduct exercises with NATO allies and partner nations throughout the region.
This deployment comes at a special time for the storied 1st ID, known as “The Big Red One,” as they will be in Europe on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, where the division played a decisive role in the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
“It is of historic importance that we are here in Europe, today, following in the footsteps of our ‘Big Red One’ forefathers who landed at Normandy 75 years ago this June,” said Col. Chris Black, the incoming 1st CAB commander. “We are excited to work alongside and learn from our allies and partners for the foreseeable future.”