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Since the first REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany), thousands of troops maneuvered around the quaint villages and farmers' fields of Germany. And entire tank convoys rumbled over the winding cobblestone streets. The REFORGER exercises were designed to prove U.S. ability to move conventional military forces rapidly from the continental United States to Central Europe.

In 1967, the United States announced plans to withdraw 28,000 troops, roughly two divisions, from Europe in 1968. To demonstrate its continued commitment to NATO, the US agreed to a large scale force deployment of not less than three brigades of a single division to Europe in an annual exercise. Thus was born REFORGER, which both tested the ability of conventional forces to fight in a conventional war scenario and demonstrated American determination. The first REFORGER, which the Russians denounced as a '*major military provocation," began on 6 January 1969. Beginning in that year V Corps took part in each of those exercises.

The Army's commitment to NATO began with the 1st Infantry Division in 1950. Soon the buildup of Army combat forces in Europe grew to two corps headquarters (V and VII Corps), five divisions (2nd Armored and 1st, 4th, 28th and 43rd Inf. Divs., the last two being National Guard units mobilized during the Korean War), and three armored cavalry regiments.

From a strength of approximately 79,000 in 1950, Army forces in Europe expanded to nearly 257,000 in mid-1952. The Army was part of the military shield behind which the war-weary nations of Western Europe rebuilt their shattered economies.

For almost 50 years the Army maintained infantry, mechanized infantry and armored units in Europe, supporting NATO against the threat posed by the numerically superior Soviet-led military alliance of East European armed forces, the Warsaw Pact. Throughout NATO's existence, the Army has explored new strategic and tactical concepts to best undertake its role as a NATO partner.

Much of the Army's post-Vietnam War modernization of armored, mechanized and field artillery forces heightened its support of NATO. This support has always depended on the rapid reinforcement of the alliance with active and reserve forces in the United States.

Programs such as the GYROSCOPE unit rotation in the 1950s and large-scale REFORGER exercises from 1969 to 1988 showed America's commitment to the alliance, as did the mobilization and deployment of thousands of reserve-component soldiers to Europe during the Berlin crisis of 1961-62.

By prepositioning huge stocks of equipment and supplies in Europe, the Army also increased its rapid-reinforcement capability. The maintenance of this equipment has provided extensive on-the-job training to reserve-component support units.

During exercise REFORGER '83, the 1st Cavalry Division became the "First unit to train as a division-size element in Northern Europe." All the training, modernization, planning, and operations culminated in REFORGER '83, when the 1st Cavalry Division deployed nearly 9,000 soldiers to Holland, drew propositioned equipment, moved to a staging area and conducted exercise "Certain Strike" on the plains of Northern Germany. The success of the exercise proved that the division was fully capable of performing its wartime mission. This was the First U.S. deployment to Holland and Northern Germany since W.W.II.

In April 1993, the last REFORGER, a mere shadow of the original, included only a part of one unit from the United States. It was a logistical exercise, largely computer-driven.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:34:46 Zulu