The National Training Center and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Museum was established to
and preserve the history of the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment assigned to the National Training
Center at Fort Irwin, California. I have been making annual pilgrimages to Fort Irwin for over
15 years and I finally stopped at the museum. I remember seeing a museum sign a couple of years
ago, but never took the time to stop. It was well worth the stop.
The 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment "Blackhorse Regiment" is now located at Fort Irwin, California. The regiment has served in the Philippine-American War, World War II, the Vietnam War, Cold War, Operation Desert Storm, and Operation Iraqi Freedom (Iraq War). The ACR serves as the Opposing Force (OPFOR) for the Army, Marine, and National Guard task forces, and foreign military forces that train at the National Training Center.
The OPFOR trained U.S. Army forces in mechanized desert warfare following a Soviet-era style threat until June 2002, when the OPFOR and the 11th ACR changed to portraying an urban/asymmetrical warfare style of combat U.S. soldiers are currently facing in operations abroad. From June to December 2003, members of the 11th ACR deployed to Afghanistan, where they helped to develop and train the armor and mechanized infantry battalions of the Afghan National Army. These specialized units would defend the Afghan capital during the country's constitutional convention. In January 2005, the 11th ACR deployed to Iraq. The 11th ACR was reorganized under the U.S. Army Regimental System.
The regiment had its beginning in 1901 in the Regular Army as the 11th Cavalry Regiment assigned to Fort Myer, Virginia. The Regiment's first deployment was to the Philippine Islands in June 1901 for the Philippine Insurrection, then to Cuba for the Cuban Pacification from 1906-09; But when the revolutionary "Poncho" Villa raided the town of Columbus, New Mexico and the Regiment was deployed to Mexico and the Punitive Expedition of 1916 began; and the "Last Charge" in the US Army's history was conducted on the 5 May 1916.
As WW II developed the guarding of the Mexico-American border was no longer necessary the Regiment was sent to Europe and deployed to the Ardennes for the "Battle of the Bulge". From 16 December 1944 to 28 January 1945, the largest battle by the United States and the largest land battle of World War II was fought. The "Border Legion" was the name given to the troops in Germany after the war, and the "Cold War Heats Up" from March 1957-1964.
With the war in Vietnam escalating, the Blackhorse Regiment was alerted for assignment to Southeast Asia in 1966. The Regiment began specialized training for combat in a counterinsurgency environment. Modifications were made to the organization and equipment with emphasis on the use of modified M113 armored personnel carriers. Two M-60 machineguns with protective gun shields were mounted at the port and starboard rear of the vehicle, and a combination circular and flat frontal gun shields were added around the .50 caliber machine gun located at the commander's hatch. This lethal combination produced a deadly M-113 Armored Cavalry Assault Vehicle, or, in Vietnam more simply referred to as an ACAV by GI's in country, a name coined by 11th Armored Cavalrymen.
The Regiment was in Vietnam from 7 September 1966--March 1972 where the nickname of the "Blackhorse" became a legend and with three Medal of Honor recipients.
The Blackhorse Regiment arrived in Vung Tàu, South Vietnam on 7 September 1966 and was commanded by Col. William W. Cobb. Operation Hickory (7-15 October 1966) produced the first enemy casualties inflicted by the 3rd Squadron and elements of the 919th Engineer Company in the vicinity of Phu Hoa.
The Warsaw Pact and the legitimacy of the Eastern Europe's Communist military ended with the infamous Berlin Wall came down on the 9 November 1989.
The Blackhorse Regiment deployed an aviation task force on 10 April 1991 to Turkey for Operation Provide Comfort, an operation to support the Kurdish relief effort. One month later, the three maneuver squadrons along with the regiment's support squadron, deployed to Kuwait for Operation Positive Force, an operation to secure Kuwait so it could rebuild from the war. By October, the regiment had completed its missions in Turkey and Kuwait and returned to Fulda, Germany. As the need for US forces in Europe decreased, the Blackhorse Regiment was inactivated in a ceremony on 15 October 1993, and the remaining troops departed Germany in March 1994.
Reactivated again on 26 October 1994, the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment now serves as the Army's Opposing Force at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin. The regiment portrays a determined opposing force that trains US forces in the basic principles of army operations and challenges all the battlefield operating systems. As the 2nd Brigade Tactical Group, the squadron trains brigade and battalion task forces during ten rotations a year at the National Training Center.
Hours of Operation:
11am - 4pm Mon-Fri
National Training Center and 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment Museum
Fort Irwin, California