Despite the different uniforms and national flags on their shoulders, nine Australian soldiers shared common headgear with their American counterparts — the 1st Cavalry Division Stetson.
The First Team welcomed a contingent of soldiers from the Australian Defence Force with a staff ride at the 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment on March 7.
The ride served as a way to build camaraderie among the soldiers while embracing cavalry heritage.
For the next two weeks, the division will take part in Unified Endeavor, a multinational training exercise to prepare for the unit’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
“The purpose of this ride was to build teamwork and esprit de corps with our Australian counterparts that will be joining us in the deployment to Afghanistan this summer,” said Col. Jeffrey Milhorn, the division’s chief of staff.
The Australians will also take part in the training exercise along with division soldiers.
“This was an awesome opportunity to bring folks together that are not normally a part of the 1st Cavalry Division,” Milhorn said. “This was a way to bring everyone together in an informal manner and also expose them to the horse detachment. The heritage starts here.”
The Australian soldiers will serve in principal and deputy staff positions during the deployment, contributing to the unit’s war-fighting functions.
“With the upcoming deployment, we will have over 16 nations that are NATO and non-NATO partners,” Milhorn said. “The Australians, who have always contributed to the war in Afghanistan, are renowned partners.”
The soldiers spent a half-hour riding in the backyard of the horse detachment stables. Friendly laughter echoed throughout the ride.
“It is very great to see the heritage of the 1st Cavalry Division being fostered and maintained,” said Australian Col. Roger Symons.
Symons said it had been more than 20 years since he rode a horse. “It was great to get back in the saddle. It was fantastic.”
Following the ride, the Australian soldiers got a behind-the-scenes look at just how First Team soldiers care for the horses and what their daily operations entail.
“This is a magnificent opportunity to come out here, to actually see the horse detachment, and to see the troopers in their environment where they work each day,” said Australian Col. Andy Haebich. “We’re integrating as part of the team, and we are ready for the job ahead.”
The ride finished with Haebich presenting an Australian flag to the horse detachment to thank them for their hospitality and professionalism during the tour.
“The 1st Cavalry horse detachment looked very professional,” Symons said. “They’re great ambassadors for the division and the Army, and I’m looking forward to working with our American counterparts and being a part of the First Team.”