Following Operation Desert Storm, the 1st Infantry Division returned to Fort Riley. However, world events significantly altered the Army’s traditional mission of warfighting. The collapse of Eastern European communist states and the end of the Soviet Union signaled the end of the Cold War and the beginning of new global challenges for the United States. Long-held ethnic divisions in the Balkans threatened regional stability. In accordance with the Dayton Peace Accords, U.S., NATO and Russian forces deployed to the region to restore peace to that troubled corner of Europe.
In the spring of 1995, headquarters of the 1st Infantry Division were transferred from Fort Riley to Leighton Barracks in Germany. A brigade of the Big Red One remained at the post along with a brigade of the 1st Armored Division and the 937th Engineer Group.
On June 5, 1999, Fort Riley once again became a Division Headquarters post with the reactivation of the 24th Infantry Division (Mech). The units assigned to the 24th were backfill for Major Theater War contingencies and provided units for Stabilization Force rotations in Bosnia.
On Aug. 11, 2006, Fort Riley proudly welcomed the Big Red One home. On that day, the 24th Infantry Division’s furled its colors and the 1st Infantry Division uncased theirs in a transfer of authority ceremony held at Cavalry Parade Field. The Big Red One’s return from Germany marked a new chapter in the illustrious history of Fort Riley. Soon, significant changes began to take place. The construction of a new division headquarters; the erection of barracks and dining facilities on Custer Hill and Camp Whitside; improvement of runways and additional hangars at Marshal Army Airfield; and creation of new housing units in the Camp Forysth area marked the transformation of the post. While construction at Fort Riley continued, the Big Red One also continued to serve afar. The division headquarters deployed to both Iraq (2010-2011) and Afghanistan (2012-2013) and deployed the majority of its brigades and battalions throughout the last decade.
Seven months later, 1st Brigade operated under the direction of the 1st Marine Division of both carrying out combat missions and training Iraqi Security forces. In September 2004, the 1st Brigade returned to Fort Riley where it assumed a two-fold mission of training the Army’s Transition Teams, a process where service members from the Army, Air Force and Navy became Iraqi and Afghan military advisers, and providing a worldwide rapid deployment force of security forces. Recently, Soldiers of the 1st Brigade have restructured their brigade into an armored brigade combat team.
In February 2004, the 2nd Brigade deployed to northern Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq, the Dagger Brigade averaged 90 combat patrols throughout its sector. In addition to its combat missions, the brigade trained hundreds of Iraqi soldiers and policemen in an effort to assume its own security responsibilities. During its deployment, the 2nd Brigade spent more than $17 million in the completion of 318 civic projects that bettered the quality of life for the Iraqi people. Some of these projects included the building of hospitals, schools, roads, water treatment plants and irrigation systems. Since then, the brigade has trained for and is currently executing missions in Africa as the Army’s first regionally aligned brigade.
In July 2003, the 3rd Brigade returned to Germany after spending an eight-month deployment in the Balkans. Five months later, the brigade deployed to Iraq. While deployed to Iraq, the brigade took part in large-scale operations in the cities of Najaf and Baqubah. In April 2007, the brigade returned to the United States reassigned to Fort Hood, Texas. The unit’s residence in Texas was temporary as the brigade deployed to Afghanistan in the early summer of 2008. Upon redeployment in July, the brigade was again reassigned, this time to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Since its reactivation there in October 2009, the brigade deployed twice to Afghanistan — in 2010 and 2013 to 2014.
The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team stood up Jan. 16, 2005, and deployed from Fort Riley to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in February 2007. The brigade, stationed in Baghdad during the surge, conducted a full spectrum of operations while in Iraq. The unit deployed to Iraq a second time in the summer of 2009. During this deployment in Salah ad Din province, the brigade carried out stability and transition missions such as overseeing the March parliamentary elections. In 2012 to 2013, the brigade deployed to Afghanistan in order to transfer the security of Paktika and Ghazni provinces to the Afghan National Security Forces.
The division’s combat aviation brigade, which uncased its colors Aug. 1, 2006, and 1st Sustainment Brigade (formerly known as DISCOM) also returned from deployment supporting the global war on terrorism at the end of 2008. Since then, both units have redeployed to Iraq and served (or are currently serving) tours of duty in Afghanistan.
On July 2, 2015, the last of a contingent of Soldiers from the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 1st Infantry Division returned to Fort Riley after a nine-month deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The Big Red One took command of the Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command — Iraq. Its mission was to build partner capacity sites and depth in the Iraqi military’s organization, as well as help train, equip, advise and assist Iraqi Security Forces to enable it to combat and defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
On June 28, 2015, the 1st Infantry Division transferred authority to the 82nd Airborne Division.
The 1st Infantry Division continues to proudly serve our homeland. Ever brave, responsible and on point, the Big Red One team is absolutely committed to each other, our families and our communities. That sense of teamwork is what makes Fort Riley a great place to come home to and what separates us from other Army divisions or installations. Fort Riley and the 1st Infantry Division — first for the nation.