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United States Army Europe (USAREUR)
Seventh US Army


Though a US Army command post had been established in January 1942 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, US Army Europe (USAREUR) traces its history to 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. First designated as the Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, US Army (ETOUSA), it 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 1942. The following month, Eisenhower departed the command of all Allied military forces in Europe. Though officially designated as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, Eisenhower 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.

ETOUSA was originally tasked to build up the American forces in Great Britain and then support them with logistics and administrative services. The Command's Deputy Theater Commander for logistics and administration was Major General John C.H. ("Court House") Lee, who remained as the chief logistician throughout the war. The command grew rapidly. By the end of January 1942 there were 4,000 American service members had already been in the United Kingdom. That number swelled to 55,000 by the time ETOUSA was established in June, and by the end of 1942 135,000 Americans were massed in Great Britain to train for the assault on the continent that would take place two years later on the beaches of Normandy. When the invasion was launched on 6 June 1944, more than 1.5 million US Army personnel were on hand.

Having successfully planned and carried out the largest invasion in history on the Normandy Beaches in June 1944, Eisenhower's logistical problems supporting a large moving force intensified. By late August 1944 and into September 1944, Lieutenant General George Patton's Third US Army was halted for 5 days because they lacked sufficient fuel for their tanks and vehicles. A possible crisis was averted when Eisenhower's 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.

When the war ended in Europe on 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 renamed the Abrams Building, served as the Headquarters for the V Corps until late in 1994, when the Corps Headquarters began to relocate to Heidelberg. Despite the size of the 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 6 Landkreis, equivalent to US counties.

As the war ended, Eisenhower redesignated ETOUSA as US 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 of USFEET until he departed in late November 1945 and General Joseph T. McNarney became the Commander in Chief.

At the end of the war, the total US Army strength in Europe was almost 1.9 million: 2 Army groups (6th and 12th), 4 field armies (First, Third, Seventh, and Ninth), 13 corps headquarters, and 62 combat divisions (43 infantry, 16 armor, and 3 airborne). Within a year rapid redeployments had brought the occupation forces down to fewer than 290,000 personnel, and many of the larger formations had departed or been inactivated. Seventh Army headquarters remained in control of the western portion of the American zone, and Third Army controlled the eastern portion. In November 1945, the 2 field army commanders organized district "constabularies" based on cavalry groups, and on 1 May 1946, the zone-wide US Constabulary headquarters was activated at Bamberg. From then until the early 1950s, the structure of the American occupation forces consisted of the 1st Infantry Division, a separate infantry regiment, and the US Constabulary of 10 cavalry regiments.

In the Spring of 1947, General Joseph T. McNarney was replaced by General Lucius D. Clay. Clay also assumed the position of US Military Governor of Germany with staff and offices in Berlin. On 15 March 1947, USFET was redesignated as European Command (not to be confused with the present joint command, USEUCOM). Between February and June 1948 the headquarters relocated to the Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg, in part due to the merger of the British and American Zones of Occupation. The US 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 2 tactical units: 1st Infantry Division and the constabulary, which was about the size of an armored division.

Several significant events caused US 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 US Army was reactivated at Stuttgart in late November 1950, with the US Constabulary assigned to it. As tensions increased and the Korean War ground on, 2 corps headquarters were organized (V and VII Corps) and 5 divisions arrived in the summer and fall of 1951.

With 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 1 August 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.

In 1953, 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 upgraded with the introduction of the M48 tank, the M59 armored personnel carrier, and tactical nuclear weapons.

In June 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced that the USSR was planning to conclude a peace treaty with the East German government. By late summer 1961, the flow of refugees from East Germany to Berlin reached 3,000 per day. Suddenly on the night of 12 August 1961, the Soviets closed all the border crossing points, isolating the 3 western sectors of the city both from East Germany and the Soviet sector, or East Berlin, 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 1962 as the crisis deepened.

The Command 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" in the latter half of 1962 and into 1963, USAREUR attempted to improve its abilities with newer equipment and systems. It received the M113 armored personnel carrier, the M14 rifle, the M60 machine gun, the OV-1 Mohawk fixed wing observation aircraft, the UH-1B Huey helicopter, the M151 truck and the M60 tank.

Due to various economic problems, the number of dependents allowed in Europe had been decreased in 1961 and for the first time since the end of World War 2, the German currency was revalued. The Deutsche Mark, previously at 4.2 DM/1.00 USD was lowered to 4.0 DM/1.00 USD. 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 10 supporting units took place. The concept, a predecessor to POMCUS, allowed units to "fall in" on their equipment when they arrived from CONUS locations.

On 1 December 1966, USAREUR and the Seventh Army headquarters merged to become Headquarters, US Army, Europe, and Seventh Army in Heidelberg, Germany. With the French withdrawl from NATO military control, US forces were given one year to leave all French posts. USEUCOM moved in 1967 to Stuttgart, Germany. Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) moved to a new location near Mons, Belgium. Headquarters for Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT) moved to Brunssum in the Netherlands.

The first 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 economic reasons. The units and personnel withdrawn remained committed to MATO 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 pre-positioned equipment.

The demands for personnel in southeast Asia Began to draw trained soldiers from USAREUR. In many cases, experienced NCOs, junior, and field grade officers were sent to southeast Asia with younger and less experienced troops sent to USAREUR to replace them, if there were any sent at all. In the 1970s, USAREUR continued to improve its firepower when it received the new M16A1 rifle, the TOW anti-tank weapon, the OH-58A observation helicopter and the AH-1G attack helicopter.

As the conflict in Vietnam drew down, forces began to return to USAREUR. In January 1973, the 3rd Battalion, 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 2 battalions, 2-28th Infantry and 2-87th Infantrym 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, 509th Infantry was reflagged as the 1st Battalion, 509th Infantry (Airborne Battalion Combat Team) and assigned to Italy.

After 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 US 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 US and local national civilians.

Also in the late-1970s, one Brigade of the 2nd 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, 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) 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 Barracks.

With the combat and support components in place, the command undertook a wide-ranging modernization in 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 Bradley infantry and cavalry fighting vehicles, the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS), the Patriot air defense system, the UH-60 Blackhawk transport helicopter and the AH-64A Apache attack helicopter.

The unexpected political events of the late 1980s, which included the fall 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, and chemical weapons were moved out of Europe and sent for destruction in facilities in the Pacific. Some 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 in southwest Asia. Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 and the subsequent rapid deployment of personnel and equipment put all of the drawdown plans "on hold."

USAREUR answered the request for assistance and rapidly dispatched medical personnel and MEDEVAC helicopters to the Operation Desert Shield. The first deployments from USAREUR to Saudi Arabia in August 1990 included the 45th Medical Company and advance elements of the 12th Aviation Brigade, which by September 1990 had deployed 2 Apache attack helicopter battalions, a Kiowa scout helicopter company, a Black Hawk utility helicopter company, a Chinook platoon, and associated support and maintenance units.

These were quickly followed by intelligence specialists, chemical warfare experts, logistical personnel, many individual replacements, and finally almost the entire VII Corps for the subsequent Operation Desert Storm. The Command eventually deployed over 75,000 personnel, plus 1,200 tanks, 1,700 armored 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. In 1992 alone, about 70,000 soldiers redeployed to CONUS with about 90,000 family members. The command shrank from 213,000 soldiers in 1990 to 122,000 in 1992. From 858 installations in 1990, USAREUR went down to only 415 in 1993 with more scheduled to close in the years ahead. Gone were the VII Corps, the 3rd Armored Division, the 8th Infantry Division (Mechanized), the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, and the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment. Many smaller supporting units also disappeared. Other services also experienced fluctuations at the same time, with USAFCENT notably moving to Heidelberg on 1 July 1993.

New missions appeared for the Command after Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. These 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. The command was engaged in humanitarian support operations, to include disaster relief and rescue and recovery, peacekeeping and non-combatant evacuations. Between 1990 and 1993 the command supported 42 deployments, which involved a total of 95,579 personnel.

Civil war in the Balkans quickly became USAREUR's main point of interest. From 1990 to 1995, USAREUR was involved in the area with mostly humanitarian operations. In October 1992 a MASH was sent to Zagreb to take care of United Nations casualties. In June 1993, the Command began supporting Task Force Able Sentry in Macedonia. In April 1994, USAREUR supported Bosnian evacuee relief operations.

After a Balkans peace agreement was signed on 14 December 1995, USAREUR's 1st Armored Division, as part of the NATO Allied Command Europe's Rapid Reaction Corps, was ordered to Bosnia-Herzegovina as part of Operation Joint Endeavor. Along with support troops, many of them reserve component soldiers, the Division formed Task Force Eagle, and assumed control of its area of responsibility. It was the first time a NATO sponsored force had deployed operationally outside the NATO boundaries. Task Force Eagle enforced the cease-fire, supervised the marking of boundaries and the zone of separation between the former warring factions, enforced the withdrawal of the combatants to their barracks, and the movement of heavy weapons to storage sites.

Then, on 4 Februrary 1999, Task Force Falcon was activated under the Command of USAREUR's 1st Infantry Division. The Task Force was charged with separating warring factions in Kosovo, overseeing the withdrawal of Serb forces and interdicting the flow of arms to insurgents. Including elements of the 1st Armored Division, Task Force Falcon entered Kosovo on 12 June 1999.

The 11 September 2001 attacks affected USAREUR, which became a logistics hub for operations in the Central Command AOR. Furthermore, the headquarters of V Corps was deployed to Iraq in 2003, as did 173rd Airborne Brigade (Separate). After the campaign, 1st Armored Division followed for occupation duties. The return of 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, V Corps and 1st Armored Division in early 2004 was followed by the deployment of the rest of 1st Infantry Division to Iraq.

In December 2008, as a result of the creation of a dedicated US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the US Army removed the Southern European Task Force from USAREUR, making it the Army component headquarters for AFRICOM, US Army Africa (USARAF). Also in 2008, the Department of the Army had announced its intention to inactivate V Corps in 2009 as a by-product of the Base Realignment and Closure decisions, which had precipitated a large draw down of US forces in Europe. On 4 June 2009, the Department of the Army announced that it had delayed, at least for one year, its original intention to inactivate V Corps. While V Corps remained active, many of its component maneuver units were inactivated.

The US Army's modularization transformation relocated the 1st Infantry Division to Fort Riley, Kansas and the 1st Armored Division was scheduled to move to Fort Bliss, Texas entirely by 2010 after its return from a year long deployment to Iraq. The 1st Armored Division Headquarters was all that remained in Germany assigned to US Army Europe by the end of 2009, the rest of its brigades and subordinate having relocated to Fort Bliss, Texas, or inactivated.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 01:37:33 ZULU