Click here to
go to the USAREUR history, "Still Moving
- A Look at USAREUR History" by Billy Arthur that
appeared in EurArmy in June 1983
to USAREUR Home Page
Dr. SAUNDERS USAREUR History Office, DSN 370-8612
A Brief History of the US Army Europe (USAREUR)
Originally found in 1998 under http://www.hqusareur.army.mil/htmlinks/)
The history of the US Army Europe (USAREUR) involves many reorganizations,
numerous restructurings, but throughout its forty plus years, it
has remained as the "keeper of the peace" that it fought
to gain in World War Two. The command was founded on 8 June 1942
in London as the American forces massed in Great Britain to begin
training for the assault the continent of Europe that would take
place two years later on the beaches of Normandy. The Command, first
designated as the Headquarters, European Theater of Operations,
U. S. Army (ETOUSA), was initially under the command of Major General
James E. Chaney, an Army Air Corps officer. Major General, later
General, Dwight D. Eisenhower, replaced Chaney in late June. The
following month, Eisenhower departed the command of all Allied military
forces in Europe.
month, Eisenhower was officially designated as the Supreme Allied
Commander Europe. He also maintained his leadership of ETOUSA, thus
providing him with a dual role which he maintained until the end
of hostilities in Europe in May 1945.
Theater of Operations, U. S. Army (ETOUSA) was originally tasked
to build up the American forces in Great Britain and then support
them with logistics and administrative services. These last two
functions parallel some of USAREURs functions today. The Commands
Deputy Theater Commander for logistics and administration was Major
General John C.H. ("Court House") Lee who remains as the
chief logistician throughout the war.
successfully planned and carried out the largest invasion in history
on the Normandy Beaches in June 1944, Eisenhowers logistical
problems supporting a large moving force intensified. By late August
and into September, Lieutenant General George Pattons Third
Army was halted for five days because they lacked sufficient fuel
for their tanks and vehicles. A possible crisis was averted when
Eisenhowers very able Chief of Staff. General Walter Bedell
Smith, successfully interceded with Lee and made certain that Patton
had the logistical support he needed to continue his drive across
France and into Germany.
the war ended in Europe in 8 May 1945, the Headquarters for ETOUSA
was located in Versailles, France, just outside of Paris. As Eisenhower
and his staff began to prepare for the occupation of Germany, the
Supreme Headquarters Allied occupation of Germany, the Supreme Headquarters
Allied Expeditionary Forces (SHAEF) moved to the I.G. Farbenindustrie
Building in Frankfurt. This large structure, later re-named the
Abrams Building, served as the Headquarters for the V Corps until
late in 1944 when the Corps Headquarters began to relocate to Heidelberg.
Despite the size of this building, the number of personnel assigned
or attached to the Headquarters reached 16,000 with another 14,000
assigned to other supporting agencies. The leadership rapidly realized
that the size of the command had overwhelmed the size of the facilities
available on post-war Germany. For this reason and for security
purposes, the command was decentralized into the towns of Hanau
and Offinbach. Eventually, the organization covered six Landkreis
war ended, Eisenhower redesignated ETOUSA as U.S. Forces European
Theater (USFET). The Headquarters was also assigned to Frankfurt
in the Farben Building and co-located with SHAEF. The Communications
Zone, that provided logistical and administrative support, remained
in Paris. In mid-July 1945, General Eisenhower departed and SHAEF
was officially dissolved with most if the staff members assuming
parallel positions in the newly created USFET. Eisenhower continued
as the Commander if USFEET until he departed in late November and
General Joseph T. McNarney became the Commander in Chief, a position
he held until the Spring of 1947 when General Lucius D. Clay replaced
him. Clay also assumed the position of U.S. Military Governor of
Germany with staff and offices in Berlin. During this period, USFET
was redesignated as the European Command (EUCOM).
the merger of the British and American Zones of Occupation in 1948,
EUCOM Headquarters moved from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. The U.S.
Constabulary, a modified Corps Headquarters, relocated from its
previous location in Heidelberg to Stuttgart, with both moves completed
in early 1949. At this point, the Command consisted of a theater
headquarters and staff (EUCOM), and two tactical units: 1st Infantry
Division and the constabulary. which was about the size of an armored
significant events caused U. S. forces to move their emphasis from
occupational duties to the defense of Germany and western Europe.
These included the Soviet blockade of land routes to Berlin that
caused the initiation of the Berlin Airlift during the 1948-1949
period; the Communist coup in Czechoslovakia in 1948; the successful
detonation of the first Soviet nuclear device in 1949; the invasion
of South Korea in 1950, and numerous hostile actions along the long
border between the Allied and Soviet forces in Europe. Largely as
a result of these factors, the Seventh U. S. Army was activated
at Stuttgart in late November 1950 and U.S. Constabulary assigned
to it. As tensions increased and the Korean War ground on, two corps
headquarters were organized and four divisions arrived in the summer
and fall of 1951.
the rapid deployment of these units and their associated personnel,
there was a serious lack of adequate facilities. To work on this
and other related problems, a new unified United States European
Command (USEUCOM) was established on August 1, 1952 and its Headquarters
placed in Frankfurt. On the same date, the Headquarters EUCOM at
Heidelberg was redesignated as the Headquarters, USAREUR. This action
gave USAREUR, for the first time since the World War II period,
a separate operational staff of its own. General Matthew B. Ridgeway
commanded the new Headquarters with General Thomas Handy serving
as the Deputy and the Chief of Staff. In the Fall of 1952, USEUCOM
moved from Frankfurt to the suburbs of Paris, only to return to
Germany (Stuttgart) in 1967 when France withdrew from all of its
NATO military commitments.
the Korean War Armistice was signed and tensions began to decrease
in Europe. USAREUR divisions, using the new Pentomic structure,
consisted of about 13,500 personnel. Their equipment was being upgraded
with the introduction of the M-48 tank, the M-59 armored personnel
carrier, and tactical nuclear weapons. This all changed in June
1961 when the Soviet Premier Khrushchev announced that the USSR
was planning to conclude a peace treaty with the East German government.
By late summer, the flow of refugees from East Germany to Berlin
reached 3,000 per day. Suddenly on the night of August 12, the Soviets
closed all the border crossing points and began to construct the
Berlin Wall. In response to this action, the 3rd Armored Cavalry
Regiment deployed to Europe along with additional support units.
USAREUR strength reached an all-time high of 277,342 in June of
1962 as the crisis deepened.
dispatched the 1st Battle Group, 18th Infantry (Reinforced) to Berlin
to support the previously deployed troops. This unit was personally
greeted by the Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, who was in Berlin
to dramatize the American response to the Berlin Wall. As the crisis
in Berlin "cooled," USAREUR attempted to improve its abilities
with newer equipment and systems. It received the M-113 armored
personnel carrier, the M-14 rifle, the M-60 machine gun, the OV-1
fixed wing observation aircraft, the UH-1B Huey helicopter, the
M-151 truck and the M-60 tank.
of economic problems, the number of dependents allowed in Europe
was decreased in 1961 and for the first time since the end of World
War Tow, the currency was revalued. The DM, previously at 4.2 /1.00
was lowered to 4.0 /1.00. To further reduce costs, a program of
rotating battle groups and battalions was instituted in 1962 and
1963. In a related move, the first prepositioning of equipment for
an infantry division, an armored division, and ten supporting units
took place. The concept, a predecessor to the more recent POMCUS,
allowed units to "fall in" on their equipment when they
arrived from CONUS locations.
of the French military withdrawal from NATO, US forces were given
one year to leave all French posts. USEUCON moved on 1967 to Stuttgart,
where it remains today. Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe
(SHAPE) to a new location near Mons, Belgium. Headquarters for Allied
Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) to Brunssum in the Netherlands. And
in December 1967, USAREUR and the Seventh Army headquarters merged
on Heidelberg. These commands remain in the same locations today,
except for AFCENT which moved to Heidelberg on 1 July 1993.
Redeployment of Forces FROM Germany (REFORGER) took place on 1968
with the removal of about 28,000 spaces from Germany. This realignment
was accomplished for both political and economies reasons. The units
and personnel withdrawn remained committed to NATO and during REFORGER
I, renamed RETURN of Forces TO Germany, conducted on January 1969,
over 12,000 soldiers returned to Germany for the exercise and used
for personnel for the Vietnam War in Southeast Asia Began to draw
trained soldiers from USAREUR. In many cases, experienced NCOs,
junior and field grade officers were sent to SEA with younger and
less experienced troops sent to USAREUR to replace them, if there
were any sent at all. In 190, USAREUR continued to improve its firepower
when it received the new M-16A1 rifle, the TOW anti-tank weapon,
the OH-58 observation helicopter and the AH-1G Cobra helicopter.
war in SEA drew down, forces began to return to USAREUR. In January
1973, the 3rd Battalion of the 509th Infantry was activated. At
the same time, the existing 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 509th
Infantry were designated as dual-capable, mechanized and airborne.
They were later discontinued and replaced with two battalions (2d/28th
Infantry and 2d/87th Infantry) which brought the 8th Infantry Division
to fully mechanized status and provided it with the ability to defend
Central Europe, its primary task. To provide greater mobility to
the Mediterranean area, the 3rd Battalion of the 509th Infantry
was redesignated as the 1st Battalion of the 509th Infantry (Airborne
Battalion Combat Team) and assigned to Italy.
a detailed study on how to support all of the units within the command,
USAREUR adopted a new system that was based upon the community commander
concept. It simplified lines of authority and gave the commander
needed authority that matched his responsibilities. In 1974, mergers
of and transfers of functions to streamline the headquarters resulted
in the termination of the U.S. Theater Army Support Command. This
agency, later replaced by a smaller organization called the 21st
Theater Army Area Command (TAACOM), consisted of almost 70,000 U.S.
and local national civilians.
in the late-70s, one Brigade of the 2d Armored Division deployed
to USAREUR which marked the first significant increase to combat
forces since the original buildup in the 1950s. Sent to northern
Germany to the newly-constructed Clay Casern, this unit added strength
to NATOs northern flank. In 1976, the 4th Brigade of the 4th Infantry
Division moved to the command and was sent to the Wiesbaden area.
The process to centralize the elements of NATO Headquarters began
in the late 1970s with Campbell Barracks selected as the site. The
4th Allied Tactical Air Force (ATAF) became operational in 1980.
Later the same year, the Central Army Group (CENTAG) and the Allied
Command Europe (ACE) Mobile Force (Land) were also located at Campbell
the combat and support components in place, the command undertook
a wide-ranging modernization in the decade of the 1980s. More than
400 new systems were introduced that included individual weapons,
new field rations, the M1A1 Abrams tank, the M2 and M3 series of
infantry and cavalry fighting vehicles, the multiple launch rocket
system (MLRS), the Patriot air defense system, the UH-60 Blackhawk
helicopter and the AH-64A Apache scout helicopter.
political events of the late 1980s that included the demise of the
Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union and a variety of weapons
treaties combined to change USAREUR again. Intermediate nuclear
weapons were withdrawn, chemical weapons were moved out of Europe
and sent for destruction to the Pacific. and units began to depart
the European continent for CONUS locations while many others were
inactivated. Planning for the drawdown of Army forces in Europe
began in the Spring of 1990 and was about to be implemented when
another unexpected development occurred on Southwest Asia (SWA).
Iraqs invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the subsequent
rapid deployment of personnel and equipment put all of the drawdown
plans "on hold."
answered the request for assistance and rapidly dispatched medical
[personnel and MEDEVAC helicopters to the Operations Desert Shield/Storm.
These were quickly followed by intelligence specialists, chemical
warfare experts, logistical personnel, many individual replacements,
and finally almost the entire VII Corps. The Command eventually
deployed over 75,000 personnel plus 1,200 tanks, 1,700armored combat
vehicles, over 650 pieces of artillery, and over 325 aircraft. When
the Hundred Hour war ended, many of the members of the USAREUR team
remained to complete the logistical cleanup while others were deployed
to northern Iraq or Turkey to aid refugees. When many returned to
Europe, they found that their units were in the process or were
about to begin the process of either relocating to CONUS or inactivating.
appeared for the Command after Desert Shield/Storm that were different
than the standard "defense of central Europe," the most
important mission since the late 1940s. These new missions involved
humanitarian activities, military to military exchanges, often with
former enemies, joint and combined was a "shadow of its former
self" on the early 1990s. Gone were the VII Corps, the 3d Armored
Division, the 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 2d Armored
Cavalry Regiment, and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Many smaller
supporting units also disappeared. In 1992 alone, about 70,000 soldiers
were deployed back to CONUS with about 90,000 dependents and most
of these were not replaced. The Command went from a strength of
213,000 soldiers in 1990 to 122,000 in 1992 with a target of 65,000
by 1995. From 858 installations in 1990, USAREUR "owned"
only 415 in 1993 with more scheduled to close in the years ahead.
its over 50 years as a major element in the U.S. Army and the defense
community, USAREUR has always met the difficult challenges placed
before it in both wartime and in times of peace. Its missions have
been demanding, its personnel have been dedicated, and its successes
have not always come easily. It has been able to adapt to many different
riles, operate in varied regions, in many cultures, and still prevail.
The fact that the Berlin Wall cane down and that the Communist system
collapsed are directly related to the presence of the trained, ready,
and motivated force of military and civilians that have been a part
of USAREUR for the last 52 years. And their military missions and
successes did not interfere with their ability to live with and
mingle with the peoples of western Europe who now grow concerned
as they watch their American friends prepare to depart western Europe
in ever increasing numbers.
the best representation of the accomplishments of USAREUR over its
lifetime can be seen in the symbolism of the shoulder patch. The
blue color behind the crusaders flaming sword represents peace
and the lifting of the oppressive darkness from Europe. Few can
doubt that USAREUR played the major role in bringing and then maintaining
peace, prosperity, and stability to western Europe.
to USAREUR Home Page
A Look at
By Billy A.
(Source: EurArmy Magazine, June 1983. A publication of the
Office of the Chief of Public Affairs, Hqs, USAREUR & Seventh
note: This brief history of the U.S. Army, Europe is not intended
to be comprehensive. It is, however, intended to give the reader
a better understanding of how USAREUR became what it is today --
an army deployed. To do this,I have presented highlights from the
last 41 years of USAREUR's existence which, I think, are interesting
and informative, and provide a historical perspective from which
to view the command.
Tracing USAREUR's roots means returning to June 8, 1942, when the
command of all U.S. Army forces in Europe (they were in Great Britain)
was assumed by Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, U.S.
Army. Established in London two years before D-Day in Normandy,
ETOUSA had two commanders in its first month: Maj. Gen. James E.
Chaney, an Air Corps officer who was in England to observe the air
war, followed by (then) Maj. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower.
In July 1942 Eisenhower departed to become commander in chief of
TORCH (code name for the Allied invasion operation in North Africa).
He returned to his European command in January 1944, assuming command
of all Allied forces in Europe.
On Feb. 13, 1944, Eisenhower officially became the Supreme Allied
Commander Europe, maintaining a dual role -- commander of the Allied
Expeditionary Force and of ETOUSA -- for the remainder of World
ETOUSA was responsible for the U.S. commitment to the Allied war
effort, including the buildup of U.S. troops in Great Britain and
the supply and administrative support of them on the continent --
missions somewhat similar to those of USAREUR today.
Eisenhower appointed Maj. Gen. John C.H. "Court House" Lee as deputy
theater commander for administration and supply as well as commander
of the Communications Zone (ETOUSA's administrative and logistic
support command). Lee, the theater logistician throughout the war
-- and described by some historians as arrogant and unlikable but
efficient -- wore his stars on the front of his helmet and also
affixed to the rear.
Rough Early Going
Eisenhower's dual command role (SHAEF and ETOUSA) caused some complications
in administration and supply after the 1944 invasion. The supply
problems of late August and September 1944, notably shortages of
gasoline and ammunition when Patton was halted for 5 days, led to
strong criticism of this setup. The problems would have become critical
had not Eisenhower and his chief of staff, Gen. Walter Bedell Smith,
kept in close contact with Lee and made sure that operational decisions
were promptly supported.
On May 8, 1945 (Victory in Europe Day), headquarters for both ETOUSA
and the Communications Zone were in Versailles, France. Generally,
the same officers were serving in dual capacities on both staffs.
While Eisenhower and his staff were preparing to dissolve the combined
headquarters, planning for the occupation of Germany, and putting
in appearances at victory celebrations, SHAEF moved to the I.G.
Farbenindustrie building in Frankfurt. This building is the present
location of V Corps headquarters.
As U.S. combat troops began to go home, a multitude of new international
organizations founded to administer postwar Europe began to stream
into Frankfurt and nearby cities. The Allied casern looked like
a frontier boom town as the SHAEF staff passed the 16,000 population
mark and the special missions, United Nations and other agencies
added another 14,000 to the area.
In size, Frankfurt itself was not large enough to accommodate the
SHAEF population. It took in the cities of Frankfurt, Hanau and
Offenbach, and covered six Landkreise (counties).
As a part of the preparations for peacetime operations, Eisenhower
had re-designated ETOUSA as the U.S. Forces European Theater on
March 15, 1945. The USFET headquarters were in Frankfurt, and the
Communications Zone headquarters were in Paris.
On July 13, 1945, the SHAEF staff assembled in the casino of the
Farben building. Eisenhower made his farewell address, expressing
his appreciation for their work. He added, "It is my fervent hope
and prayer that the unparalled unity which has been achieved among
the Allied nations in war will be a source of inspiration for, and
point the way to, a permanent and lasting peace."
Mergers, Moves, Constant Change
On July 14, SHAEF was formally dissolved, and most of its U.S. members
simply moved into similar positions on the newly formed USFET staff.
Beginning with this action, the U.S. forces in Europe went through
early postwar years of realignment of air, ground and naval forces
to come in line with Allied agreements made at the Potsdam Conference.
Consideration had to be given to the industrial and economic condition
of postwar Germany as well as the rise of the Communist threat from
the east. Ground combat forces were withdrawn quickly, and the occupation
force structure underwent constant change.
Eisenhower left Europe on Nov. 11, 1945. Gen. George S. Patton Jr.
became acting commander of USFET and U.S. military governor until
Gen. Joseph T. McNarney arrived to assume command. On March 15,
1947, USFET was re-designated European Command, a joint-service
command with an Army element named U.S. Ground and Service Forces;
this element was re-designated as U.S. Army, Europe on Nov. 15,
At that time USAREUR was a non-operational paper organization created
to enable a ground and service commander to provide administrative
and logistical support to Army members. USAREUR's general and special
staff actions were performed by the offices and personnel of the
EUCOM staff in addition to their other duties. Maj. Gen. Clarence
Huebner was dual-hatted as deputy commander in chief, chief of staff
for EUCOM and as commanding general of USAREUR.
In spring of 1948, EUCOM headquarters (likewise USAREUR) moved from
Frankfurt to Heidelberg to open up office space for the agencies
created as a result of the merger of the British and U.S. occupation
zones. To make room in Heidelberg, the U.S. Constabulary (a modified
corps headquarters) was moved to Stuttgart. Both moves were completed
in early 1949.
At that time USAREUR consisted of a theater headquarters and staff
(EUCOM), the U.S. Constabulary which approximated a corps headquarters,
and two tactical units: 1st Infantry Division and the constabulary
brigades which approximated an armored division. This was probably
the lowest point of U.S. military power in Europe following the
New Tensions Bring New Buildup
A number of unexpected events following quickly after World War
II caused the U.S. military concept for Europe to shift from emphasis
on occupation duties to emphasis on defense. Primary among these
were: the 1948-1949 Berlin blockade and airlift, the 1948 Communist
coup in Czechoslovakia, the 1949 detonation of the first Soviet
nuclear device, the 1949 establishment of NATO and the 1950 invasion
of South Korea.
On Nov. 24, 1950, Seventh Army was activated at Stuttgart to take
command of the ground tactical force (planned at five divisions).
On the same day the U.S. Constabulary was assigned to Seventh Army,
dropping the constabulary designation. Most noncombat functions
reverted to EUCOM, and USAREUR continued to exist but only to satisfy
certain legal responsibilities such as court martial authority for
In February 1951 two corps headquarters were organized under Seventh
Army as plans were made to absorb the constabulary brigades and
move four divisions back to Europe. The first to arrive was the
4th Infantry Division in May, followed by the 2nd Armored Division,
and the 43rd and 28th Infantry Divisions in the summer and fall
of 1951. With the return of large numbers of soldiers, adequate
facilities became a serious problem.
Policy Shift and Cutbacks
On Aug. 1. 1952, a new unified United States European Command was
established. USEUCOM made its headquarters in Frankfurt. On that
same date, Headquarters EUCOM in Heidelberg was redesignated Headquarters,
USAREUR -- giving the command a separate, operational staff for
the first time since it was ETOUSA early in World War II. Gen. Matthew
B. Ridgway, SACEUR, assumed command of the new headquarters, Gen.
Thomas T. Handy served as his deputy and also as commander in chief,
USAREUR. Later in the year the new USEUCOM headquarters moved from
Frankfurt to the outskirts of Paris only to return to Germany (Stuttgart)
15 years later, when France withdrew from NATO military commands.
By the mid-1950s the USAREUR divisions had been restructured to
reflect the policy of President Eisenhower and Secretary of State
John Foster Dulles who emphasized nuclear capability to the detriment
of conventional forces. The USAREUR "Pentomic" divisions had only
about 13,500 soldiers.
In 1953 the Korean armistice was signed, the Soviets seemed to want
to reduce tension in Europe, and the U.S. economy was on the downswing,
causing cutbacks in military spending. Some new equipment was introduced
into USAREUR, notably the M-48 tank and M-59 armored personnel carrier,
but troop strength declined steadily from the 1952 peak to the time
of the Berlin crisis.
Berlin Confrontation, Modernization
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced in June 1961 that Russia
was preparing to conclude a peace treaty with its puppet East German
regime, and the flow of refugees to West Berlin reached 3,000 a
day in early August. Then on the night of Aug. 12, all border crossing
points were closed, and construction of the infamous Berlin Wall
began. In response, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment was deployed
to Europe, along with additional support units (totaling 16,000
soldiers) and about 19,000 soldiers as individual replacements.
USAREUR's strength increased in June 1962 to a postwar maximum of
The 1st Battle Group, 18th Infantry (Reinforced) was sent from USAREUR
to bolster the Berlin garrison, arriving without incident on Sunday
afternoon, Aug. 20. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was on hand
to greet the troops, who were cheered by crowds of West Berliners
lining the streets.
The year 1961 was a big one for equipment modernization in USAREUR.
The Army fielded the M-113 armored personnel carrier, M-14 rifle,
M-60 machine gun, OV-1 Mohawk fixed-wing plane, UH-1B Huey helicopter,
M-151 truck and the M-60 tank. The same year saw the first revaluation
of currency -- the exchange rate of DM 4.2/$1.00 was lowered to
DM 4/$1.00 to try stopping the gold flow from the United States.
Also because of U.S. economic problems, officials cut back the number
of dependents in Europe by rotating battle groups and battalions
to Europe for short tours in 1962 and 1963.
And near the end of 1961, Gen. Bruce C. Clarke, then commander in
chief of USAREUR, oversaw the prepositioning in Germany of the basic
equipment of an infantry division, an armored division and 10 supporting
units. The forerunner of what is today known as POMCUS, the concept
was to store equipment (tanks, trucks, howitzers and other equipment)
on a "ready to roll" condition so arriving units could pick up the
equipment and be combat operational in a minimum amount of time.
France, Reforger, Effects of Vietnam
In March 1966 the De Gaulle government declared that the United
States must vacate its bases in France within one year. Headquarters
for USEUCOM moved from Camp des Loges on the outskirts of Paris
to Stuttgart. Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe moved to
Casteau near Mons, Belgium. Headquarters for Allied Forces Central
Europe moved from Fountainbleau to Brunssum, the Netherlands. And
in December 1967, USAREUR and Seventh Army headquarters merged and
remained in Heidelberg. The four headquarters commands remain at
those locations today.
The major event in USAREUR in 1968 was the movement of the first
REFORGER units back to the United States. Ultimately, the decision
to withdraw troops from Europe was political and based on financial
(gold flow) rather than military considerations. The REFORGER action
withdrew about 28,000 spaces from USAREUR. The redeployed units
remained committed to NATO and were expected to return to Europe
annually for training exercises.
In January 1969 REFORGER I was conducted -- 12,187 dual-based troops
returned, drew prepositioned equipment and conducted a field exercise.
The Return of Forces to Germany exercises have continued annually
as a demonstration of U.S. resolve and capability to rapidly reinforce
In the mid-1960s USAREUR began to feel the effects of the Vietnam
War. Many units became short-handed, and experienced NCOs, captains
and field grade officers were withdrawn and replaced by younger,
inexperienced enlisted men and officers. In 1970 the M-16AI rifle,
the TOW anti-tank weapon, the OH-58A observation helicopter and
the AH-1G Cobra were added to USAREUR's arsenal.
As the Vietnam conflict wound down, the personnel situation began
to improve; by 1972 the rapid turnover of officers and men stopped.
Individual soldiers were again trained systematically and then molded
into integrated teams and units.
Building U.S. and Allied Strength
A reorganization study completed in November 1971 proposed adding
more combat units to USAREUR. On Jan. 15, 1973, the 3rd Battalion,
509th Infantry was activated at Lee Barracks in Mainz and moved
to Vicenza, Italy, in September. This move fulfilled the U.S. promise
to offset the 1960-70 troop reductions in Italy and served as a
visual response to Soviet expansion into the Mediterranean area.
At the same time, the 8th Infantry Division's 1st and 2nd Battalions,
509th Infantry were discontinued and replaced by two mechanized
battalions, making the division fully mechanized and enabling it
to better perform its primary mission of defending Central Europe.
In Vicenza the 3-509th was redesignated the 1-509th Airborne Battalion
In 1972, after a study of base-support organizations and functions,
USAREUR adopted the community commander concept. This new system
simplified lines of authority and communication at the community
level and gave the community commander authority that matched his
The next year, 1974, brought mergers and function transfers to strengthen
the combat-to-support ratio and streamline headquarters functions.
It ended the lifespan of what had been the Army's largest logistical
organization -- the U.S. Theatre Army Support Command, consisting
of over 69,000 U.S. and local national civilians -- supporting nearly
400,000 Americans in Europe and the Middle East.
A USAREUR buzz word of the mid-1970s was "interoperability," the
effective operation of systems, units or forces of two or more nations.
Actually, postwar interoperability began in the 1950s when U.S.
units worked closely with the newly organized Deutsches Heer (German
Army) to assist in training and joint exercises.
In 1968 the official title of "Partnership" had been given to this
concept, and an awards program was initiated to recognize superior
accomplishments in the joint relationships. In 1982 the Host Nation
Support Agreement was signed; under this pact the German government
agrees to provide extensive support services to the U.S. forces.
Another well-known phrase of the period was "tooth to tail," which
referred to the ratio of combat-to-support troops and was inspired
by the Nunn Amendment of 1974 which required USAREUR to reduce its
support personnel by 13,000 over two years, applying them to the
combat forces. At about the same time it was decided to move a U.S.
brigade into the Northern Army Group region to protect against the
long-neglected threat across the North German plain. In May 1977
construction began on a brigade-sized installation at Garlstedt,
near Bremerhaven, and 1,027 build-to-lease housing units were started
at Osterholz-Scharmbeck in January of the next year. Named Clay
Casern, the installation was turned over to the U.S. forces in October
1978. By early 1979 the 2nd Armored Division (Forward) was settled
into a fully functioning military community, and NATO had a stronger
USAREUR has taken other steps for improved defense. In 1974 Gen.
Michael S. Davison, as commander both of USAREUR and of NATO's Central
Army Group, directed a study on the collocation of the two headquarters.
After U.S. and NATO command approvals, internal staff moves, remodeling
and construction, the shift was made. Headquarters for USAREUR,
CENTAG, Allied Mobile Force (Land) and Fourth Allied Tactical Air
Force were now all at Campbell Barracks, Heidelberg. NATO command
structure strengthened, the mechanism for shifting from peacetime
to wartime operations was streamlined, and communication between
allied staffs improved.
The Future: Tough but Promising
Times continue to change, and unfortunately USAREUR has not escaped
the worldwide rise in terrorism. In 1972 bombs exploded in Frankfurt,
killing an Army lieutenant colonel, and in Heidelberg, killing three
soldiers. U.S. installations were attacked sporadically throughout
the remainder of the decade, and on Sept. 15, 1982, an assassination
attempt was made on Gen. Frederick J. Kroesen, former USAREUR commander,
as he and his wife were being driven through the outskirts of Heidelberg.
The attack, the first of its kind on a USAREUR commander, was unsuccessful
-- an RPG-7 anti-tank projectile was deflected by the automobile
Increased security measures and successful German criminal investigations
have helped suppress the wave of terrorism, but USAREUR soldiers
must still keep up their guard.
The real story of the future of USAREUR is in force modernization.
New weapon systems and concepts in force structure, such as the
New Manning System, will help the command to keep changing and improving
its defense capability.
But the one ingredient that has remained constant is the dedication
of the USAREUR soldier. From Bill Mauldin's World War II "Willie
and Joe" to today's modern combat and combat support teams in camouflage
battle dress, it's still there. USAREUR's men and women soldiers
can claim proud service and strong defense.
Mr. Arthur is a historian with the HQ, USAREUR and Seventh Army
Military History Office.