COB ADDER, Iraq - Surely, it's nothing more than a coincidence, but the Long Knife Brigade is performing the same mission along the Iraq-Iran border that the 1st Cavalry Division was performing along the U.S.-Mexican border when it was first activated many years ago: Stop border smuggling.
"While this is technically the 87th birthday of the 1st Cav.Div., the roots of the cavalry extend all the way back to the 1800s," said Col. Philip Battaglia, the Long Knife Brigade commander.
With a cavalry saber, it took only one slice for the brigade's leaders, Command Sgt. Maj. Edwin Rodriguez and Battaglia, to cut the First Team's 87th birthday cake in half.
"This rotation is another symbol of the honorable history of the 1st Cav. Div.," said Rodriguez, Long Knife Brigade command sergeant major. "When you wear your patch, wear it proudly. You should feel honored to be part of the First Team."
The division's heritage reaches back to 1855 when the 2nd Cav. Regiment was organized and participated in American Civil War battles.
"The cavalry was selected to operate out there in the desert to counter the smuggling - Gee whiz, it sounds exactly like what we're doing out here now. We have (two battalions) out there countering the smuggling along some borders working in desert conditions."
The First Team's 87 years comes from National Defense Act's formal activation of the 1st Cav. Div. Sept. 13, 1921.
The 4th Brigade Combat Team was activated at the First Team's birthplace, Fort Bliss, Texas. A former 4th Infantry Div. unit, the Cobras, took the Long Knife colors back to southern Iraq only a few months after the Fort Bliss unit left northern Iraq.
The new cavalry heritage earned the Fort Hood troopers the famous Stetsons, spurs and sabers to wield during ceremonies.
"Our patch is one of those few patches that no matter where you go in the United States, the American people recognize the 1st Cav. patch," Battaglia said. "It has lots of history that our forefathers have built upon that patch - especially all those Vietnam veterans with the mighty proud 1st Cav. Div. - and everything they did that brought that patch a lot of the fame that it has now.
"It's amazing what this brigade has done," he added."And happy birthday to the 1st Cav. Div."