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42nd Military Police Group (Customs)
US Army, 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.

7751st MP Customs Unit

42nd MP Group

Det "A" / 285th MP Co

Det "B" / 560th MP Co

Det "C" / 256th MP Co

Det "D" / 294th MP Co

Det "E" / 193rd MP Co

7751st MP Customs Unit History
1949 - 1968
7751 MP Customs Unit DUI

M/Sgt. Leroy J. Smith


Berchtesgaden Detachment, 1953 - Jack Walker, sitting, on the right (Jack Walker)

Berchtesgaden Detachment - border control point (Jack Walker)
(Source: Email from Jackie Carlson, daughter of Jack C. Walker)

My father, Jack C. Walker, was initially with in the US Constabulary and later in the MP Customs unit 7751 from 1947 to 1954 I believe. He served in the APO 541 Berchtesgaden Detachment according to these orders and things I have.

I have recently opened some of my father's old footlocker/trunks. They are filled with all most every document he ever touched.

I have tons of touristy type things, pictures of him, army buddies, the landscape, parades, manuvers and just about anything you can think of. I have propoganda books and maps and hotel brochures. Old stamps, original orders from the Army - stacks of them - I have his meal vouchers, his driving "licenses" every card the army ever gave him I think. His uniform is in pristine condition but no hat and I am not sure where everything goes. You name it and my father saved it. Seriously.

7751st MPCU
Gutleut Ksn

1. Special Orders

2. Customs MP Office


(Source: Army Information Digest, September 1952)
Front Lines in the Cold War

By Captain Edgar M. Jones

If the Cold War can be said to have any visible front lines, then a small group of American Military Police may be said to be manning that line. It is a line devoid of spectacular action, although the possibility of physical danger and violence is always imminent. And while there is no glory and no widespread recognition for these men of the 7751st Military Police Customs Unit, their organization is wielding an influence and responsibility all out of proportion to its numbers in helping to advance the cause of Western nations -- and especially the cause of the United States.

Along stretches of the Bavarian frontier which face the Soviet Zone in Germany and also Czechoslovakia and Austria, men of the 7751st are on duty. They do not search for escapees or smugglers or infiltrating foreign agents -- nothing so spectacular and dramatic as that. Daily they go through the drudgery and repetitive detail of checking cars in isolated, dirty rail yards, often working alone far from mess hall or barracks.

As a result of their efforts, millions of dollars worth of goods which could have been used by Russia or satellite countries for manufacture of war materiel have been intercepted at the borders. That in essence is the job being performed by these Military Police. Theirs is difficult and often very delicate work. If a shipment of goods is stopped as potential war materiel, the shippers can and do protest vehemently. And sometimes there can be international repercussions which reverberate up to the very top echelons of military and diplomatic circles.

Take for instance the case of twenty-eight carloads of pipes consigned to a Czech firm. When the Military Police inspected this matereil, they became suspicious and ordered the shipment held. The Czechs claimed they
were water pipes. To the Military Police they looked suspiciously like oil casings which could very easily find their way to Rumanian or even Russian oil fields. The enraged Czech authorities were so incensed over the stoppage that they cut off coal shipments to the porcelain factories in Bavaria. This seriously affected the West German economy; a minor diplomatic crisis had been created. The whole matter finally had to be settled on levels of diplomatic discussion high above the field worker who first inspected the car.

That single case epitomizes the many diverse elements that ebb and flow in the complicated situation that exists today in Germany. Even on the highest levels of statecraft, it is difficult to make clear-cut decision regarding shipments from Germany to the satellite countries. It must be remembered that Western European countries are dependent on some sort of trade in order to maintain their normal economies -- and it is in the American interest to rebuild those economics. For Germany and some of the other western nations to switch entirely to the dollar areas for their raw materials would well nigh bankrupt a Europe that is scarcely solvent even today.

One expedient has been to work out agreements which specify the kinds of goods, the quantities, and the kinds of payments that can be made in international trade. Thus some articles can be placed under absolute embargo while others not highly rated as potential war goods can be subject to quantitative control and within limits may be shipped to the East. A system of licensing seeks to control the flow of such materiel at the source.

A recent step in the continuing battle to curtail the availability of critical materiel to Iron Curtain countries is the agreement reached in January 1952 between the United Slates and ten Western European nations, to prevent re-export of such materials which may he received from the United States.

Russia and her satellites need many products manufactured in Germany and other western countries. Some of these needs are for civilian consumer goods, others are essential in manufacture of war materiel. It is often extremely difficult, as in the case of the pipes, to be sure just what the ultimate use many be. In any case, Allied interests demand that no goods, manufactured or raw, be sent behind the Iron Curtain for war purposes. Consequently the inspection of freight at border points has become an increasingly important phase in the Cold War.

As often happens, the 7751st Military Police Customs Unit evolved to fill a special need. The unit was originally organized by the European Command of the United States Army in April 1949 as a special purpose organization to combat smuggling and black marketeering in the United States Zone. At that time floods of black market items came into the American Zone. It was difficult to call it smuggling because German customs men were hesitant about asking questions of Allied persons, much less snooping through their baggage or searching for contraband.

Creation of a special Military Police unit was ordered and soon volunteers were being trained. Rigid standards were established. Duty stations were designated along the international frontiers within the United States Zone. As soon as the German customs men found that their jobs would not be endangered, and when it was demonstrated that rigid border inspections would assist the sagging German economy by bringing in added tax revenue, they co-operated enthusiastically. This was particularly true at highway control points where clear division of labor could be made. The Americans inspected the luggage of Allied forces while the Germans took care of other nationals. In the vicinity of Salzburg and Innsbruck in Austria, and of Berchtesgaden, Garmisch and Oberammergau in Germany, the heavy tourist traffic kept all hands busy during all hours.

The men stationed at railway crossing points, however, were not so pressed and were consequently able to take more time preparing detailed reports on the kinds and amounts of traffic passing their check points. At first these reports were merely made available to economic experts as an indication of trade conditions. But these commercial freight records also provided a wealth of information on the consignor and consignee, description of the goods, quantity, weight, value and routings.

All of these records were duly turned over to the civilian experts for study until several incidents occurred. The first was discovery of material listed as scrap but which proved to be some fifteen tons of serviceable and unused copper wiring consigned to Hungary. Since nobody seriously objected to the shipment, it was allowed to go on its way. But when, two months later, another shipment of alleged scrap turned out to be a hundred aerial bomb casings, capacity half ton, they were ordered cut up by acetelyne torch. And then some serious consideration was given to means of remedying the entire situation.

As a result, the emphasis of work by the Military Police Customs Unit was shifted from checking tourists to heavier concentration on freight movements. Today the Unit operates customs control points at international airports within the United States Zone, in the Bremen and Berlin enclaves and at rail points all along the Bavarian frontier.

In most instances these duty stations are remote from other military facilities. Along the Czech frontier some of the men drive their jeeps up to fifty miles inland to get gasoline and food supplies. Mess is provided by putting the men on station allowance and giving them access to military commissaries. They hire German cooks because the strength at any billet is usually under ten men who must take turns in border watches around the clock. They also make weekly patrols to points manned by German customs and border police.

The entire strength of the Unit is twelve officers and one hundred and sixty-four enlisted men -- all noncommissioned officers. Paperwork on personnel records and monthly payrolls is turned over to the nearest post or sub-post. Control points are usually administered by a master sergeant. He in turn is supervised by an area inspector, either a lieutenant or a captain.

When a member of the Customs Unit finds something that looks suspicious he reports it immediately by telephone and the work of investigating the shipment is quickly under way. Some of the materiel clearly is on the banned lists but other items are more difficult to judge. And often trying to find out just who did ship the goods in question is impossible because of the devious "triangular trade" methods that are used by opportunists who flourish in the twilight zone of world trade.

A typical "triangular trade" deal was that involving eleven tons of highly polished bearings. The shipment arrived at rail yards on the German side of the Czech border. All the papers were in order, indicating that the ball bearings were in transit from a Swiss manufacturer. An American Military Policeman nevertheless opened the boxes and discovered packing slips showing that the bearings had been made in Schweinfurt, Germany. Investigation revealed that they had presumably been sold originally to an Englishman in Antwerp, Belgium. From there they went to a French concern which shipped them to Switzerland; the bearings then were dispatched to Germany as a transit shipment for the Czechs. The shipment was seized by United States East-West trade authorities in Germany and somebody lost approximately seventy-five thousand dollars, the value of the bearings. But proving just who may have been the real violator is still another problem.

Licensed exports from another country in transit across Germany to the East are outside the jurisdiction of the Customs Unit. But members still copy down all data appearing on the shipping documents and, as in the case of the ball bearings, suspicious shipments can be identified. Formal procedures for stoppages and clearances were adopted in May 1950. During that year the members of the Unit held up some two hundred shipments. In 1951, almost seven hundred shipments were detained. And while not all of these were turned back, many were barred from export. Admittedly, however, some of these barred shipments conceivably have been rerouted to the west and to the north where the American Military Police were not on duty and thus may have reached the satellites.

Devious means of getting around the export restrictions are sometimes uncovered. One such case was a shipment to Czechoslovakia of about ten tons of what looked like laundry mangle parts labeled as a "soot machine." Upon closer investigation it turned out to be machinery for making carbon black, an ingredient used by automobile tire manufacturers to toughen rubber and to lengthen the wearing life of their product. There is an acute shortage of this product within the Soviet bloc.

The individual Customs Unit member feels that his work is vital and important in winning the Cold War. He is supported by words of praise from a United States Senate Committee and also by a unit commendation given by the Department of State.

Some memorable effects can be noted, too. Delays at the frontier while investigating the validity of suspicious export licenses have disrupted Communist time tables. Risks involved in trading with the East have caused German manufacturers to increase their prices; now they demand substantial down payments from their Communist customers in advance. Extra costs for circuitous routing of freight just to avoid the inspections have also thrown Red-dominated industry budgets out of line.

And what do the Communists themselves think of it all? Probably the best indication of the Unit's effectiveness is that boiling-mad Communist newspaper editors often refer to the men of the 7751st Military Police Customs Unit, EUCOM, as "war criminals."

42nd MP Group History
1968 - 1994
42nd MP Group DUI

The precursor organization of the 42d MP Group, i.e., the 7751st MP Detachment, was established on 21 March 1949, to fight organized and widespread blackmarket activities which posed a serious threat to the German economy. The unit enforced USEUCOM Customs Regulations, investigated violations thereof, controlled parcel post shipments of blackmarketable goods, and manned twenty-three border stations used by US military personnel crossing the international borders of (then) US occupied Germany.

In August 1950, the US High Commission for Germany requested the services of the "Customs Unit," later designated as the 42d Military Police Detachment, to control the eastward movement of restricted goods to "Satellite Bloc" countries. On 1 November 1952, the "Customs Unit" was relieved of its strategic export control function and this function was resumed by German authorities.

In May 1955, Germany regained sovereignty. The rights, privileges, and obligations of the foreign forces and their members stationed in Germany were then based on the "Bonn Forces Convention," the forerunner of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement (NATO SOFA) and the Supplementary Agreement thereto. As a result, the "Customs Unit" was charged with establishing customs controls within Germany.
On 23 October 1956, in order to effect closer coordination with USAREUR Headquarters, the MP Customs Detachment headquarters relocated from Frankfurt to Heidelberg. Four years later, the unit was relieved from USAREUR and assigned to Headquarters, Special Troops, USAREUR. The unit at that time had nine field offices.

On 1 Jul 63, the NATO SOFA became effective in Germany. It allows the US Forces to establish and enforce, in coordination with German customs authorities, customs policy for US Forces members in Germany. Since USAREUR has country responsibility for all three branches of service in Germany, this task has always been carried out by the 42d MP Group.

On 25 January 1968, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 42nd Military Police Group was constituted in the Regular Army and activated in Germany.. The group is charged with providing customs enforcement and maintaining liaison and cooperation with German customs authorities at all levels. In addition, the group is responsible for establishing customs policies and procedures for the Federal Republic of Germany and to negotiate with German authorities on questions of procedure and US forces entitlements arising from tax and customs issues within the NATO SOFA.

On 1 Jul 74, the 42d MP Group was transferred to the 15th MP Brigade, retaining its missions and HQ USAREUR affiliation.

On 13 Dec 74, drug suppression and anti-hijack protection were added to the missions of the 42d MP Group.

On 1 Jun 76, relieved from assignment to 15th MP Brigade, the 42d MP Group was reassigned to US Army Europe and Seventh Army and, on 21 Oct 77, placed under the 21st Support Command.
  On 21 Oct 77, HHD was reorganized and redesignated as Headquarters and Headquaters Company, 42nd MP Gp.

On 9 Dec 77, the Cdr, 42d MP Group became the Executive Agent for all customs matters in USEUCOM. As the Executive Agent, the Cdr, 42d MP Group, provides staff supervision over the US Military Customs inspection programs in 11 countries throughout Europe. This responsibility includes staff supervision of 169 military customs inspection programs operated by the US Army, Navy and Air Force.

On 21 Jan 78, the 42d MP Group was reassigned to HQ, USAREUR/7th Army (Office of the Deputy Commander in Chief) and converted into a major command. In Aug 83, the Commander, 42d Military Police Group was also designated the USAREUR Executive Agent for customs for US Forces personnel in Germany.

Continuing to expand through the years, the 42d MP Group was reorganized on 1 Jul 85, and currently has over 650 military and civilians assigned throughout Germany and Northern Italy at 43 separate locations, ranging from Bremerhaven, in the north, to West Berlin, and south to Livorno, Italy.
  The 42d Military Police Group provides customs support on an area basis. Our unit boundaries are generally the same as the German state (Land) boundaries. The Group Headquarters and its Headquarters Company are located in Mannheim; the 193rd MP Company is in Nürnberg; the 256th in Frankfurt; the 285th in Karlsruhe; the 294th in Kaiserslautern and the 560th in Bremerhaven.

A map showing these locations, as well as our subordinate field offices, is on the left. The field offices are structured into platoon and squad organizations which perform the day-to-day peacetime customs missions and also train to perform their wartime missions.
The missions and functions of the 42d MP Group are primarily divided into two areas: Customs missions that are performed in support of German laws and the US forces stationed in Germany (USAREUR Executive Agent) and customs missions performed throughout the NATO countries in Europe in support of US Forces returning to the United States (USEUCOM Executive Agent). These various mission requirements and functions are summarized below.  
United States Army Europe Executive Agent:

Establishment of customs controls for US Forces deploying to Europe to participate in exercises.
Enforcement of the NATO/SOFA.
Support to drug suppression activities.
(Note: As Cdr, 42d MP Gp responsible for peacetime planning for wartime missions.)
United States European Command Executive Agent:

European Command military customs programs.
Selective Enforcement Program.
Aircraft and passenger inspection.
Command Information Program.
If you have more information on the history or organization of the 42nd MP Gp, please contact me.

(Source: Email from Richard Fletcher)
I was with (Detachment B,) 42nd MP Grp Customs, Bremerhaven, Germany from May 1969 to May 1970. Major David Lynch was our CO and Post Provost Marshall.

I never heard the name Carl Schurz Kaserne before - that is new to me. (Webmaster note: at that time, the installation was still known as the "US Army Staging Area, Bremerhaven.")

The 42nd MP Grp Customs, Bremerhaven, was responsible for the Free Port Christopher Columbus Quay. We had regular patrols, plus gate duties with the German Zoll (Customs), (Army) Post Office inspecting packages, car shipping center, and field investigators (3). We also inspected all MSTS ships that came into the freeport.

Overall our responsibilities included the Status of Forces Agreement related mainly to things that would impact the German economy; cigarettes, gasoline. etc.

We still had the SS United States thru either October or November of 1969, we would custom clear all military personnel traveling on the ship when it arrived.

It seems we covered a wide geographic area - Bremen, we had a one main office in a confiscated house; Helmstedt, we had a post on the border.

I went to Putgarden, Germnay over July 4, 1969, and worked with German Zoll. From there we went by ship over to Denmark and met with Danish police about some custom issue.

During the summer of 1969, we travelled monthly to Heidelberg, for meetings with DEA, US Customs and various agencies for a planned three month tour to Vietnam to bring out Big Red One. That was nixed as Nixon didn't want additional troops added to Vietnam troop totals so they sent regular US custom people.

Our CO, Major Lynch, was also the Provost Marshall of the Post. He was a great officer and we constantly interacted with German Zoll, via parties on their boats and other functions. In the fall or winter of 1969 we liaised with a British Group of MP's in Hamburg and helped them rotate back to England thru Bremerhaven. They had been in the field about 3 years.

I have stayed in touch with a few of my comrades, unfortunately the last one passed away about 6 years ago. Would appreciate any contacts you might have. Feel free to email me.

I use to have a lot of pictures and stuff don't have now. Hope this helps.

The Zoll/Customs gates near the back entrance to CSK (Frank Taylor)
The base was located right next to the Free Port via the back gate. The Staging Area was also a Navy facility - they had a Navy listening post. The Army provided support, security, fire, post office, mess etc. and I guess all the TOE.

The listening post was surrounded by a 12-foot fence with concertina wire and their staff never interacted with any of us. I think they had all there own facilities inside the secured area. Very little discussion about that area.

There were other Navy personnel stationed there, many who had been out to sea and were awaiting further orders to go back to sea. We would see the Navy guys in the NCO club and interact with them there, never anywhere else.

Bldg 3 included the Provost Marshal Office and the MP Office.
The 42nd MP Customs Office was in Bldg 11 which also included the MI Office, Tailor Shop and Dry Cleaning.
Bldg 6 were the billets for the Post MPs and the 42nd MP Cusomts folks.
Bldg 102 served as the mess hall.

There were two back gates.
-- The one near the AFN Building was always closed. We never used it.
-- The other gate was at the southern end of Massachusetts Ave. Go thru the gate and make a left towards Columbus Quay about 20 yards, there would be the Zoll gates or guard houses. Germans manned theirs 24/7. We didn't staff ours all the time.

(Source: Email from James "Jim" O'Fallon)
I am a retired MP E8. I spent 6 years as the NCOIC of the Hanau Field Office with the 42d from 1974 to 1980.

I spent a total of 12+ years in Germany out of my 22+ years in the Army. I spent 2 tours in Kassel with the 709th, later the 510th and later the 61st.

In fact I assisted in closing the MP Station in Kassel in early 1972 (we had moved from the HICOG bldg on Wilhelmshohe Allee to co-locate at the G/P station in Ihringshausen.

I spent the remainder of 1972 until I rotated commuting to Fulda and working PS at the MP Station.

Kassel was "northern Garmisch" and I had a great time. But the most fun I had in the Army was the 6 years I spent with the 42d in Hanau.

My lSG was Andy Wilbanks at Det C in Frankfurt and good old Maj John Bock was my Det Cdr.

I went thru some really hardcore Group Cdrs, Col Hooker, Col Friedman. I also had Col Gregerson, Col Peters and right at the end Col McDaniels.

I deployed on 7 Reforgers in 6 years (2 in one year), and at least a dozen "Able Archer and Wintex" FTXs in northern Germany. These were Corps Hqs FTX's out of Ft Hood interacting with the Brits in the Paderborn, Sennerlager Trng area and Gutersloh RAF Base.

My main recollection of these exercises was the point/advance party leader Col Charley Brown, Hqs Comdt at Ft Hood. He used to carry an axe handle (given to him by the Brits) to maintain "dignity in the cantonment area" as he put it.

We processed 10% of the troops as they entered Germany at Gutersloh and processed 100% as they left 2 weeks later.

I recall one of the FTXs had 7 GO's, one from each of the combat divisions stateside.

During the 2 weeks we were on our own and had a great time sightseeing. After being stationed In Kassel I was very familiar with northern Germany as our AOR took in everything but Bremerhaven and Checkpoint Alpha at Helmstedt.

As mentioned earlier, I was stationed in Kassel, Germany, as an MP for 2 tours. A CID agent named Kenneth Sparks (Sparky) was stationed in Kassel. Sparky related that as a young Cpl during WWII he was assigned to the Constabulary. He was there when they converted to the MP, etc. He is retired and living in Hawaii. I

have not had contact with him in a few years, he could have passed away. He was a huge collector of badges/crests and it seemed to me he knew half the military folks all over the world?

There was an interpeter at the MP Station named Rie Coenen. She worked for the Germans as a translator at Henschels and after the war went to work for the Constabulary as an interpreter.

(Source: Email from Rick D. Moderie, 42nd MP Gp, 1982-85; 1987-93)
I was stationed in Germany during the timeframe 1982 to 1993, almost continuously assigned to 42d MP Group.

I was a customs investigator in Nuernberg from 1982 to 1985 and in Hanau and Frankfurt from 1987 to 1993. I have lots of experiences to relate concerning USAREUR during the "Cold War."
The 42nd MP Group was organized in 1968 from the 7751st MP Detachment.

- Customer Service (Retiree Verification, Unit Briefings, Customs Information)
- Blackmarket Investigation
- Overwatch of the Military Customs Inspection Program

This was the unit layout in July 1980:
  HHD Mannheim
  Det A HQ in Karlsruhe covered Baden-Wuerttemberg
  Field Offices: Karlsruhe, Heidelberg, Mannheim, Heilbronn, Stuttgart, Zweibrucken
  Det B HQ in Bremerhaven
  Field Offices: Hamburg, Berlin, Osterholz-Schwarmbeck, Bremerhaven (including Vehicle Processing Center)
  Det C HQ in Frankfurt covered Hessen
  Field Offices: Fulda, Giessen, Hanau, Darmstadt, Rhein-Main, Wiesbaden
  Det D HQ in Kaiserslautern covered Rheinland/Pfalz - Saarland
  Field Offices: Kaiserslautern, Baumholder, Mainz, Saarbrucken, Livorno (IT), Vicenza (IT)
  Det E HQ in Fuerth covered Bavaria
  Field Offices: Nuernberg, Aschaffenburg, Bamberg, Wuerzburg, Ansbach, Schweinfurt, Grafenwoehr, Augsburg, Munich, Bad Toelz, Garmisch, Berchtesgaden, Neu Ulm
In June 1985, the companies converted to TO&E units. Evelyn P. "Pat" Foote, then a Colonel, was group commander.

EPW Guard Companies:
294th MP Co, formerly Det D
560th MP Co, formerly Det B

EPW Escort/Guard Companies (TO&E 19-256):
193d MP Co, formerly Det E
256th MP Co, formerly Det C
285th MP Co, formerly Det A

While being designated as TO&E units, they still maintained a TDA unit. Investigators were assigned the TDA positions. I was in Frankfurt Field Office. Our Field Office NCOIC was the "squad leader." A TO&E platoon sergeant, responsible for personnel, leadership and training (not the TDA missions) was responsible for Wiesbaden, Frankfurt and Rhein-Main "squads."

Lots of conflicts arose from this strange setup (which looked good on paper, albeit severely hampered the effectiveness of investigations and customer service capabilities).

(Source: Military Police, November 1989)
40 Years of Challenge

By Robert Szostek
Born forty years ago in the ruins of postwar Germany, the 42d Military Police Group is tasked with a mission that spans the European continent.

Immediately after World War II the 42d began its fight against widespread black market activity. Even after Germany regained sovereignty black market investigations continued to protect the reemergent Germany economy.

During these critical years the group manned major German border crossings, the Bremerhaven seaport, and international airports to control the flow of tax- and duty-free goods into and out of Germany, as well as assist soldiers during border crossings.

Although the group relinquished these border posts in 1980, its military police stayed on at Frankfurt International Airport and Rhein Main Air Base (where most military members and their families still enter Europe).

The 42d's primary mission remains law enforcement under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, particularly regarding drug and black market suppression. However, helping new arrivals to import pets and other restricted items is also important.

In 1968 the 42d MP Group also assumed the military customs inspection (MCI) mission for USAREUR (United States Army, Europe). Qualified customs inspectors inspect everything from household goods to tanks moved through military channels m the United States.

Each year 42d's inspectors clear approximately one hundred thousand household goods shipments, twenty thousand privately-owned vehicles (POVs), five thousand military aircraft and eighty thousand passengers. This saves the government and the individual soldier, DOD civilian, and their families time and money. Because shipments, passengers, and vehicles cleared by the 42d are not normally inspected when they enter the United States, they reach their destination sooner.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture requirements are of central importance to the MCI mission. They safeguard the American farming industry from foreign pests such as the Mediterranean fruit fly. It tray be unusual to see an MP crawling tinder a wet tank looking for dirt; but that dirt could harbor nematodes and other voracious insects that could wipe out the American potato industry if they reached CONUS. When considered in that context, the mission is an awesome responsibility for young soldiers.

Customs information is also a vital service that can save a soldier from unintentionally breaking the law. So 42d's public affairs office uses all available media to tell the U.S. forces audience in Europe about customs and agriculture laws and about their host nation tax- and duty-free benefits. This mission is challenging because many soldiers and their families have never dealt with customs before.

As a result of the group's expertise in the military customs inspection arena, it was assigned duties as the executive agent for all customs matters in the European Command. The Group USEUCOM (United Stated European Command) Executive Agency for Customs supervises approximately 180 MCI programs run by the Army, Navy, and Air Force in nine European countries. Advisors from the U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture assist in program accreditation, coordination with U.S.federal agencies, and training.

Training Is Unique
The core of this training is a unique week-long qualification course organized and conducted by the executive agency. It introduces MPs to the complex world of customs and agriculture regulations. Which U.S. Department of Transportation safety rules apply to POVs built in 1971? What paperwork does the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms need for a 9mm handgun made in Lithuania after 1945?

Other subjects covered in the training range from currency, wildlife, and environmental protection laws to Public Health Service regulations. Military police are taught to inspect household goods, POVs, aircraft, passengers and cargo. They learn the latest smuggling methods and are given reinforcement training in drug recognition.

Later in the week the MPs learn the tax and customs laws that apply to the U.S. forces in Germany under the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. Who exactly is allowed to have tax-free privileges in Germany? What privileges do they have and what are the limitations?

In addition, classes are given on black-market investigations and surveillance. A military working dog team comes to demonstrate the effectiveness of its drug-detection capabilities. The interaction between the group's military customs inspectors, dog handlers, and investigators is heavily stressed.

One spin-off from the MCI mission is the 42d's role in the annual REFORGER exercise. When REFORGER troops land in Europe, the 42d's customs inspectors are there to speed them through customs. Then, when the exercise is over, the troops and their baggage move to special customs clearance areas where they are inspected before flying back home.

Their equipment goes to wash sites where it is cleaned by the unit, inspected by the 42d, and then loaded onto flatcars for the journey to the port and the voyage to CONUS. All this saves the taxpayer millions of dollars each year because such precleared flights don't have to land at U.S. ports of entry, download, and go through customs before flying on to their destinations -- thereby saving time, fuel, airport landing fees, and customs user fees.

To give the MCI program real teeth, the 42d was the first Army unit in Europe to acquire drug-detector dog teams. Today the 42d still has the largest drug-detector dog force in USAREUR for its own customs operations and to support USAREUR drug-suppression missions, with seventeen kennels strategically placed throughout Germany and Italy. Today the majority of 42d's dogs not only detect drugs, they also perform patrol functions for wartime.

This bewildering array of peacetime customs-related tasks would seem enough to keep any unit busy, but the 42d also performs extensive combat planning and training. In wartime the headquarters of the 42d assumes command and control of MP assets in the RCZ. The (peacetime) subordinate companies become enemy-prisoner-of-war (EPW) guard and escort guard units collecting EPW from forward units and escorting them to camps set up by the guard companies. Here tile prisoners are processed for shipment out to permanent EPW camps.

To meet its missions the 42d is dispersed over a wide geographic area with forty-three field offices ranging from Bremerhaven in the far north of Germany, to West Berlin, and to Livorno, Italy, in the south.

The five subordinate companies fall under the group headquarters in Mannheim, Germany: their headquarters are located in Fuerth (1934 MP Company), Frankfurt (256th MP Company), Karlsruhe (285th MP Company), Kaiserslautern (294th MP Company), and Bremerhaven (560th MP Company).

NCOs Play Key Role
Communication and individual responsibility are the vital keys to the success of this widely dispersed organization. Soldiers on the ground must make good independent decisions; their company headquarters is sometimes hundreds of miles away. For this reason NCOs in the 42d are assigned more responsibility than NCOs in many other MP units. A noncommissioned officer is appointed as the NCOIC of a field office supplying many customs services to whole military communities serving thousands of soldiers, civilians, and families.

These NCOs must also independently apply the local laws pertinent to their particular area. Laws that apply in Frankfurt may not always apply in Berlin, and may be different again from Italy. The local field office serves as a focal point of law enforcement liaison between the German customs authorities, provost marshal, and CID (Criminal Investigation Division).

Exercise missions require the NCOs to organize travel to foreign countries from Norway to Zaire, provide troop support for their soldiers while abroad, and complete the customs mission with minimum delay. Such unique challenges are the reasons why so many soldiers choose to stay in the 42d.

Although the demands placed upon the 42d have changed during its forty-year history, its basic missions have remained the same: provide peacetime customs support to members of the U.S. forces and to be prepared to fight, survive, and win in war. In this the 42d has succeeded. Throughout the last forty years the road has been paved with challenges for the 42d Military Police Group and it has met them all.

In the future continued emphasis must be placed upon balancing the sensitive nature of peacetime support with the critical training for wartime support. The 42d Group has accepted this challenge.

In August 1994, the 42d MP Group (Customs) was inactivated as part of the drawdown of US military forces in Europe.

Detachment "B" / 560th Military Police Company (Customs)

Bad Kreuznach Customs Office, 1993
(Source: IRONSIDE, October 1993)
Military Police customs agents from the 560th MP Customs Company process soldiers returning to the US as part of the drawdown.

Detachment "E" / 193rd Military Police Company (Customs)

Det "E" redesignated (Webmaster's collection)
(Source: DONAU (Neu Ulm Military Community newspaper), July 26 1985)
On July 1, 1985 Detachment "E" of the 42nd MP Group was redesignated as the 193rd Military Police Company (Customs).

Hqs of the new unit remains in Nürnberg.

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