FORT RILEY — The Army’s oldest division headquarters is officially home after a year in Afghanistan.
The 1st Infantry Division marked its return to American soil Tuesday with an uncasing ceremony at Victory Park. Surrounded by stones etched with the names of fallen soldiers, Maj. Gen. William Mayville, Command Sgt. Maj. Charles Sasser, Brig. Gen. Donald MacWilie and Command Sgt. Maj. Miguel Rivera unfurled the division’s colors before a crowd of family, friends and Kansas leaders.
The ceremony marked the first time the 1st Inf. Div. flag has flown at Fort Riley since March 8, 2012, when Mayville and Sasser cased the colors before the division headquarters’ deployment to Afghanistan where they assumed control of Regional Command-East.
“It is good to be home,” said Mayville, the division’s commanding general. “As beautiful as the Hindu Kush is, there is nothing, nothing more spectacular than these great rolling hills at Fort Riley. We love being back here; it’s just fantastic.”
Gov. Sam Brownback attended the uncasing ceremony and offered his thanks to the troops of the Big Red One.
“It’s good to have you home where you belong,” Brownback said. “We are delighted to have you back.”
Mayville offered his thanks to MacWillie and Rivera, who served as the division’s command team at Fort Riley during the deployment. Mayville said knowing Fort Riley was in good hands made it easy to focus on the Afghan mission.
“Thank you,” Mayville said, “for your team and for all your hard work.”
During the division’s year-long deployment, the headquarters oversaw what officials said was one of the most challenging and dynamic periods in Afghanistan. Big Red One soldiers focused on training Afghan National Security Force soldiers and leaders, providing their counterparts the tools required to deal with the challenges of their nation.
“I can report (the ANSF) is a good force,” Mayville said. “They are taking the lead, and we are very proud of what they are doing. They still have work (to do) and they are going to need our assistance in the months to come… but they are very proud of what they are doing and they should be.”
The Big Red One transferred control of RC-East to the 101st Airborne Division and furled the division colors during a ceremony March 14 at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. During that ceremony, Mayville celebrated the growing confidence and competence of the Afghan National Security Force, noting the ANSF is at a point where they cannot lose and the Taliban cannot win.
“Success in Afghanistan is now measured by what our Afghan partners can do rather than what we as a coalition do,” Mayville said. “What is done here… matters to the safety and well-being of the Afghan people, and it matters to the citizens of nations who have sent their sons and daughters here to stand with the Afghans.”