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Allied Forces Central Europe
Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe

Looking for more information from military/civilian personnel assigned to or associated with the U.S. Army in Germany from 1945 to 1989. If you have any stories or thoughts on the subject, please contact me.


AFCENT History 

LANDCENT

CENTAG

NORTHAG

AIRCENT

2nd ATAF

4th ATAF

Fontainebleau Garrison

Related Links





 
History

Cour Henri IV (Palace of Fontainebleau), seat of Heaquarters AFCENT until 1967

Camp Hendrik, Brunssum, The Netherlands, Heaquarters AFCENT after 1967
Allied Forces Central Europe (1950s)
 
Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Central Europe
 

1953 - 1991 (listed are CINC's during Cold War only)

  • Marshal Alphonse-Pierre Juin, France (Aug 1953 – September 1956)
  • General Jean-Etienne Valluy, France (October 1956 – May 1960)
  • General Maurice Challe, France (May 1960 – February 1961)
  • General Pierre-Élie Jacquot, France (March 1961 – December 1963)
  • General Jean Albert Emile Crépin, France (December 1963 – June 1966) (1)
  • General Johann Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg, Germany (July 1966 – April 1968)
  • General Jürgen Bennecke, Germany (July 1968 – September 1973)
  • General Ernst Ferber, Germany (October 1973 – September 1975)
  • General Karl Schnell, Germany (October 1975 – January 1977)
  • General Franz-Joseph Schulze, Germany (January 1977 – September 1979)
  • General Ferdinand von Senger und Etterlin, Germany (October 1979 – September 1983)
  • General Leopold Chalupa, Germany (September 1983 – October 1987)
  • General Hans-Henning von Sandrart, Germany (October 1987 – September 1991)
(1) From June 1, 1966 France was no longer part of the NATO military structure

 

Map of AFCENT facilities in Fontainebleau, probably early 1960s
 
1953
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Apr 5, 1954)
On Aug 3, 1953 French Marshal Alphonse-Pierre Juin was named Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces, Central Europe. Before that, Juin had served as Commander-in-Chief, Allied Land Forces, Central Europe (since March 29, 1951).

General Juin was named a marshal of France on August 3, 1952.

 
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Nov 14, 1953)
The 50-man headquarters of Allied Naval Forces Central Europe (ANFCE) was moved recently from its Fontainebleau Palace offices to Camp Guynemer. French Vice-Adm Robert Jaujard is commander-in-chief of ANFCE.

Allied forces in central Europe have four headquarters in the Fontainebleau area. The over-all command of Marshal Alphonse P. Juin, AFCE commander-in-chief, and the land forces command under Gen Marcel M. Carpentier, remain located at the Fontainebleau (court of Henry IV).

 

AFCE organization, July 1954 (adapted from NATO, the first five years)
 

AFCE organization, 1953 (USAREUR Annual History, 1953-1954)
 
1954
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Jan 19, 1954)
 
HQ AFCE, Allied Forces Central Europe, adopted the crest on the left in January 1954. The motto, "In Scelus Exsurgo Sceleris Discrimina Purgo" dates back to Charlemagne, King of the Franks, in the 9th Century.

The new insignia is worn by all headquarters personnel, including the land, sea and air forces under CINCENT (currently, French Marshal Alphonese P. Juin). When worn as a badge, it may be worn on a small leather plaque (fob) or fastened directly to the uniform.

If the corresponding shoulder patch is worn, is should be placed on the left sleeve one inch below the top seam.

Buttonhole badges will be worn by civilian personnel working for AFCE.


Streetview: Court of Henry IV, Palace of Fontainebleau (Google)

Fontainebleau (), Google Maps satellite view - location of major NATO facilities:
HQ AFCENT; HQ AIRCENT; HQ LANDCENT
 
Headquarters
AFCENT
Fontainebleau, France (peacetime) (until move to Brunssum, 1967)
Brunssum, the Netherlands (peacetime) (after move from France)
Margival, France (war) (while Hqs still in France)
(???) (war) (after the move to Brunssum)
Linnich-Glimbach, Germany, "Castle Gate" (Static War Hqs) (completed only after end of Cold War)
NORTHAG / TWOATAF
Rheindahlen, Germany (peacetime)
Maastricht-Cannerberg, the Netherlands (war)
CENTAG / FOURATAF
Seckenheim, Germany (peacetime)
Feudenheim, Germany (war) (until ?)
Ruppertsweiler, Germany (war) (replaced bunker at Feudenheim in ???)
USAREUR
Heidelberg, Germany (peacetime)
Maison Fort, France (war) (until pull out from France, Nov 1966)
??? (after Nov 1966)

HQ AFCENT
Fontainebleau, France

 

1. (KB)

2. (KB)

3. (KB)
 


Streetview: Former Interallied Officers Club, Fontainebleau (Google)

Streetview: Former Interallied Senior NCO Club, Fontainebleau (Google)
1965
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, May 10, 1966)
Today, there are about 60 allied divisions assigned to NATO in Europe. Of those, 23 are stationed in the critical central area in Germany under the command of AFCENT. The bulk of these are 6 US (1), 12 West German, 3 British and 2 French divisions in Germany.

US troops in Germany under NATO total 210,000 soldiers; there are also about 51,000 British troops and 70,000 French troops. The West German armed forces total about 440,000 men that are assigned to NATO.

The ground troops are supported by 5,500 tactical aircraft based on 220 NATO airfields and a vast stockpile of American tactical nuclear weapons and warheads.

The 26,000 American troops in France are support troops that man a network of supply depots, port installations, communications, airfields and a 550-mile oil pipeline.

(1) There are actually five US divisions, one separate brigade (Berlin Bde) and three Armored Cavalry regiments (2nd, 3rd and 14th).


Allied Forces Central Europe Emblem
, 1970s
 

AFCENT organization, 1970s
1967
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, June 3, 1967)

On June 1, 1967 Allied Forces Central Europe officially established its new headquarters at Camp Hendrik (a former state coal mine near Brunssum, The Netherlands.

Under NATO, AFCENT is responsible for allied defenses between the Baltic Sea and the Alps. The command is made up of ground and air forces from the
US
Britain
Canada
the Netherlands
Germany
Belgium
Luxembourg

The official language used at AFCENT is English.

AFCENT strength represents 23 ground divisions and some 1,500 aircraft.

Within AFCENT are the
Northern Army Group (NORTHAG),
Central Army Group (CENTAG - commanded by General James H. Polk, CINCUSAREUR),
2nd Allied Tactical Air Force (2nd ATAF)
4th Allied Tactical Air Force (4th ATAF - commanded by General Maurice A. reston, CINCUSAFE).

Naval liaison with AFCENT is provided by an adviser officer, US Navy Capt George Washington Davis, V.

AFCENT reports directly to General Lyman L. Lemnitzer, SACEUR.

The total headquarters staff of AFCENT comes to about 2,500 but with dependents the move from Fontainebleau, France (previous headquarters) added up to some 6,000 people who had to be moved the 300 miles from Fontainebleau to Brunssum.

At the new site, already some 500 local nationals have been employed with a monthly payroll if $57,000.


 
Fontainebleau Garrison, Seine Area
 
AMERICAN GRAVES REGISTRATION COMMAND
 

Caserne Lariboisiere, a major depot of the American Graves Registration Command
in France, May 1947
(Photo: IGN website, France)
  Dr. David Egan is preparing a two-volume history of the U.S. Army Communications Zone in France during the Cold War (see comments on book project).

To give us a taste of the type of information and detail that he will provide in his history, he has submitted a brief history of the US Army presence at Caserne Lariboisiere in Fontainebleau (1945-1967) that was presented to the French École de gendarmerie de Fontainebleau at Caserne Lariboisière last Fall.

In his book, the Fontainebleau section alone will contain about 35 pages of text, photos, maps and line drawings and cover the US Army, AFCENT and AAFCE presence in Fontainbleau.

Definitely something to look forward to!!

CLICK on thumbnail (left) to read the article. (File is in PDF format. Size = 0.9 Mb)

SEINE AREA, FONTAINEBLEAU
 

Caserne Lariboisiere just after US troops left France in 1967
(Photo: IGN website, France)
(Click on image to view annotated version and location of units and activities)

Installation map of Caserne Lariboisiere, c. 1953
(David Egan)

Installation map of Caserne Lariboisiere, c. 1963
(Forrest Quinn)


US Army Element, HQ AFCENT Information Booklet, 1963

 

Hqs Building, Fontainebleau Garrison (Bldg #112), Caserne Lariboisiere (Forrest Quinn)
 

US Army Dispensary (Bldg #100), Caserne Lariboisiere, Fontainebleau (Forrest Quinn)
 
1964
(Source: THE PERISCOPE Orientation Booklet, 1964)
US Army Garrison, Seine Area, Fontainebleau

BRIEF HISTORY
Fontainebleau is located in the Department of Seine-et-Marne, thirty-seven miles south-east of Paris. It is situated in the Forest of Fontainebleau which covers approxirnately 42,200 acres, with a circumference of fifty-six miles, and is considered to be one of the most beautiful forests in France.

The City of Fontainebleau is a very colorful and historic city. Its history dates back to the 16th century and it has, in the past, served as a summer headquarters for many rulers of France. The Palace of Fontainebleau (Chateau), located within the city, is one of the largest residences in France.

The Caserne Lariboisiere, located in Fontainebleau, is composed of 104 buildings in an area of approximately 40 acres. The Caserne has been in use continually by United States Army activities since the liberation of Fontainebleau in the fall of 1944. An Officers Candidate School, which served the United States Army in this theater of operations, was located here shortly after the liberation. After World War II a depot, which served the American Graves Registration Command, was situated on the Caserne. It is believed that the Caserne Lariboisiere has been utilized by the United States Army longer than any other installation in France. It presently houses all services such as a general dispensary, dependent school, theater, chapel, commissary, Servivce Club, Officers' Open Mess, NCO and EM Open Messes, Post Exchange, Snack Bar, Bowling Alley, and several other services which are of a purely American character.


MISSION
The United States Army Garrison, Seine Area, Fontainebleau, is charged with the mission of providing administrative and logistical support to assigned and attached units in addition to providing logistical support to the United States Elements of Allied Forces Central Europe (Army, Navy and Air Force); to Hq French District, EES; Hq Petrolelum Distribution Command, Europe; and to such other United States Army units as are stationed in the Fontainebleau area.

The US Army Garrison also provides a station-type support, including personal support such as medical and dental service, Commissary, Post Exchange, religious service, finance, transportation and recreation (which includes the operation of a theater, Bowling Alley, Service Club and Officers', NCO and EM Open Messes).

The United States Army Garrison, Seine Area, Fontainebleau, is also charged with the responsibility of forecasting, requisitioning, receiving, storing, securing and issuing supplies required for the support of the above-mentioned American organizations.
 

Junior High School (Bldg #307), Caserne Lariboisiere, Fontainebleau (Forrest Quinn)
 

American Elementary School (Bldg #303), Caserne Lariboisiere, Fontainebleau (Forrest Quinn)

 
AIRCENT / AAFCE History

Gate No. 3, Camp Guynemer, early 1960s (Mike Capon. webpage)

AAFCE Headquarters, Ramstein Air Base, 1974
 
AIRCENT Patch
 
(Source: Email from Helmut Kaemmerer, veteran of German Army Signal Corps assigned to NATO)
 
 

1951
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, October 4, 1951)
With the arrival from Washington of Maj Gen F. L. Ankenbrandt, the new deputy chief of staff for communications at HQ Allied Air Forces, Central Europe, the AAFCE staff is now complete.

The AAFCE key staff posititons under Lt Gen Lauris Norstad are:
  Gen R. J. Fay French Chief of Staff
  Air Vice Marshal T. G. Pike British DCS. Operations
  Brig Gen W. T. Thurman U.S. DCS, Administration
  Maj Gen F. L. Ankenbrandt U.S. DCS, Communications
  Maj Gen N. G. Leboutte Belgian ACofS, Operations & Training
  Gen B. A. De Chassey French ACofS, Plans & Policy
  Air Vice Marshal J. L. Plant Canadian ACofS, Logistics & Personnel
  Air Cmdr R. N. Waite British ACofS, Intelligence
  Gp Capt C. B. E. Burt-Andrews British Secretary General
  Col T. O. Newell U.S. Comptroller

1952
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, April 4, 1952)
HQ AAFCE announced on April 3 that a radar system covering eastern France, Luxembourg, Belgium and The Netherlands has been put in operation on a part-time basis. The radar system is coordinated with the radar units of Allied forces in Western Germany. It will be operated on 24-hour basis "within months."

(Source: STARS & STRIPES, April 6, 1952)
AAFCE HQ construction
A new headquarters compound (eventually to be named Camp Guynemer) is being constructed in the middle of the historic Fontainebleau National Forest. About 1,400 workmen employed by French contracting firms are involved in the construction work that began on January 10, 1952 and is scheduled to be completed by June 1.

One- and two-story prefabricated buildings laid out on an 11-acre clearing will provide working quarters for 3,000 military and civilian personnel who work for the Allied Air Forces, Central Europe headquarters.

The work includes roads being cut and surfaced and parking grounds laid out for 1,000 vehicles. A "Fontainebleau Village" (housing area) is planned for construction nearby with seven-story buildings that will house 300 families of Allied airmen and civilians stationed at the headquarters.

Many of the Air Force units earmarked for assignment at the new NATO installation are already in Europe.

 

AAFCE organization, 1953 (adapted from FLIGHT, 26 June 1953 issue)
1953 
 
A brief newsreel video from British Pathe that shows US General Lauris Norstad handing over command of the Allied Air Forces in Central Europe to British Air Chief Marshal Sir Basil Embry in 1953.

Ceremony was held at Fontainebleau, France.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
No. 2 GROUP (HQ Gütersloh, Germany): Royal Netherlands Air Force tactical units equipped with Republik F-84G Thunderjets are based at Volkel and Eindhoven. They are assigned to the UK-Dutch No 2 Group (Source: FLIGHT, 13 May 1955).

In a report on Exercise BATTLE ROYAL (Sept 1954), FLIGHT stated that the UK- Dutch group would not be fully integrated (at all levels of control) until October or November 1954.

No. 69 GROUP (HQ ?): This group is responsible for the defense of Belgium and Holland. The squadrons comprising this group are equipped mainly with Meteors.

Royal Netherlands Air Force air defence units (squadrons at Leeuwarden, Twente and Soesterberg Air Bases equipped with Dutch-built Meteor F.8s and British-built Metero N.F.11s) are combined in the Dutch-Belgian No 69 Group (Source: FLIGHT, 13 May 1955).

No. 83 GROUP (HQ ?):

In a report on Exercise HOLD FAST (Sept 1952), FLIGHT stated that the UK- Bel group had recently been formed with Air Marshal Foster in command (A.O.C.). It was stated that the UK- Bel group had already achieved full integration (at all levels of control) and was serving as a model for Allied tactical air forces. HOLD FAST was the group's first exercise.

1959
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, March 3, 1959)
AIRCENT Communications Group

(See information in the NATO Communications chapter on the Overview Page, Signal Section).

1963
(Source: STARS & STRIPES. April 2, 1963)
AIRCENT To Observe 12th Birthday

The seven nation NATO command of Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AIRCENT) will mark its 12th anniversary at its headquarters in Fontainebleau on April 2, 1963 by inaugurating a permanent display of AIRCENT squadron crests in the entrance of the headquarters building. The display will be unveiled during an international ceremony hosted by the AIRCENT commander, Air Chief Marshal the Earl of Bandon.

The crests represent operational flying units which, located on NATO air bases in the Central Region, are committed to AIRCENT by Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, The Netherlands, the United Kingdom and the United States. Many ranking air officers from these countries, including the chiefs of the Belgian, German and Netherlands air forces are expected to attend the anniversary ceremony.

AIRCENT's mission is to help prevent any aggressive action against NATO territory. In addition to its aircraft strength which now totals more than 2,000 jet planes, the command boasts a growing force of surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles.

 
1966
(Source: STARS & STRIPES, Nov 15, 1966)
On November 15, 1966 Headquarters AIRCENT merged with Hqs AFCENT as part of an integrated Army-Air Force-Navy command for NATO's Central Region. The modified headquarters (AFCENT) will have separate air and land operational command sections.

Last AIRCENT commander was British Air Chief Marshal Sir Edmund Hudleston, who will now serve as deputy commander-in-chief of AFCENT. CINCAFCENT is German General Johan Adolf Graf von Kielmansegg.

(Source: Biographies, Official USAF website, accessed March 18, 2012)
In August 1965 General Von R. Shores, USAF, became the deputy chief of staff, operations, Allied Air Forces Central Europe.

In September 1966 he became the chief of staff and guided the consolidation of AIRCENT into the reorganized single headquarters of Allied Forces Central Europe, composed of the three former NATO headquarters. With the reorganization he became the deputy chief of staff, operations and intelligence, Allied Forces Central Europe.

He had the primary planning responsibility for moving the newly reorganized headquarters from Fontainebleau, France, to Brunssum, the Netherlands, which was accomplished in February-March of 1967.

During this entire period of NATO assignment he was the senior U.S. representative in the Allied Forces Central Europe Headquarters.

Related Links
  The Fontainebleau Veterans Association - a very nice UK website, the association includes former military and civilians (all nationalities) who served in Fontainebleau with NATO establishments. m Page and Gene McManus host this very fine web site that is primarily dedicated to AC&W squadrons and Radar sites located in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Greenland and Iceland. However, there is a growing section that covers the Air Force's overseas radar sites and units.