Deployment - West German Border Security Operations
September / 1945
September / 1991
Description The United States Army maintained a substantial and continuous military presence at the inner German border throughout the entire period from 1945 to after the end of the Cold War. Regular American soldiers manned the border from the end of the war until they were replaced in 1946 by the United States Constabulary, a lightly armed constabulary force responsible for border security. It was disbanded in 1952 after policing duties were transferred to the German authorities. In its place, two dedicated armoured cavalry regiments were assigned to provide a permanent border defence. The 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment based at Nuremberg and the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment based at Fulda– later replaced by the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment – were tasked with monitoring the border using observation posts, ground and air patrols, countering border intrusions and gathering intelligence on Warsaw Pact activities. Unlike their East German counterparts, U.S. soldiers did not stay for more than 30 days on the border, though they carried out regular patrols around the clock using foot and helicopter patrols. They also used a variety of technical measures such as ground surveillance radars to monitor Warsaw Pact troop movements across the border. A rapid reaction force was on constant duty further behind the border to provide backup in an emergency. The American presence on the border provoked political controversy in Germany. During the 1960s the state of Hesse refused to grant U.S. forces land rights to its observation points or allow them to install paved access roads, electricity or telephone lines. It took the view that since there was no legally recognised border, there was no legal reason for their military observation posts to be built along it. By the 1980s the American border presence had become the target of peace activists, who in 1984 blockaded the U.S. Observation Post Alpha with a human chain. The U.S. withdrew from the inner German border in 1991.