TRANSITION INTO A TACTICAL FORCE
1950 - 1952
(U) An M8 armored car painted with the distinctive Constabulary identification markings. February 1952.
(U) The New Alliance
(U) Tensions in Europe should have been reduced after the Soviets lifted the Berlin Blockade in 1949, but the Allied powers knew this was only a temporary respite. They responded by signing the NATO treaty in August 1949 and helping to establish the German Federal Republic in September. This was followed by the signing of the Mutual Defense Assistance Act on 6 October 1949, which authorized President Truman to give American aid to members of NATO who signed bilateral, agreements for an integrated defense plan.1
(U) Although the most widely-publicized countermeasure to the Soviet blockade had been the famous Berlin airlift -- a heroic effort to resupply the American soldiers and Berlin citizens by air -- the counterblockade by the Allied powers on the shipping of goods from western Germany into the Soviet Zone had also been important in convincing the Soviets to lift the blockade. In March 1950 Mr. John J. McCloy, the HICOG, discussed with General Thomas T. Handy, the EUCOM commander, the possibility of reinitiating restrictions on east-west commerce in the event of further Soviet or Soviet-initiated measures against the western countries. EUCOM prepared a plan that could regulate, curtail, or terminate traffic crossing the US zonal boundaries adjacent to the Soviet Zone and Czechoslovakia. Designated as Operation CONCOURSE, the plan called for the closing of all unofficial crossing points and the exercise of stringent controls at official crossing points. After the assumption of direct supervision of German border officials, border police, and the Land border police services by US military personnel, all rail and vehicular cargoes would be inspected and require proper documentation. Personnel moving across the border would need proper documentation and to follow all crossing regulations stringently. The plan was phased to permit either a gradual slowdown of traffic or a complete cessation of all such traffic, as desired. By the end of 1950, although the plan had not been approved by the British Government, it was on the shelf and ready for expedited approval and implementation if needed.2
On a larger stage, with the Korean invasion in mind, the Council of Foreign Ministers declared on 19 September 1950 that the Allied governments would treat any attack upon the German Federal Republic or West Berlin as an attack upon themselves. It also announced that the Allied forces in Germany would be augmented. The build-up of American forces in Germany -- combined with a general increase in international tensions in Europe, which the Korean war
greatly exacerbated -- led to an increased impetus to restore complete sovereignty to Germany and to formally end the occupation. Although the United States was a strong proponent for picking up the pace of this process, it could not act unilaterally and had to consider all aspects of this change in Germany's status on the Soviet Bloc as well as its Allied partners. One step it debated in 1951, was the abolition of zonal boundaries in the western part of Germany. It was reasoned that a country soon to be accepted on an equal footing in the proposed European Defense Community should not be divided into "occupation zones." The HICOG proposed that as soon as the contractual relationships (or Contractual Agreements, as they subsequently came to be called) on ending the occupation were entered into with the Federal Republic, all zonal boundaries would be eliminated. From a political standpoint they had ceased to exist for some time, but as EUCOM headquarters pointed out, there would be military disadvantages if it were unclear which power was responsible for the defense of which sector. In addition, the Soviets would not be a party to the Contractual Agreements and would continue to approach the "German question" from a zonal point of view. The State Department implemented a compromise policy whereby the zones would continue to exist nominally, but would be disregarded in practice. By this time all pretense of border operations on the British and French zonal boundaries had long since ceased, and US security and surveillance border operations were directed solely against the Soviet zonal boundary and the Czechoslovak border. On 10 January 1952 President Truman and Prime Minister Churchill publicly pledged their countries' full support of a European Defense Community with the Federal Republic as a full and equal partner.3
EUCOM headquarters thought the draft version of the Contractual Agreements, which had been drawn up by the Three Powers and the German representatives in 1951, limited the rights of the Three Powers in protecting the security of their armed forces stationed in Germany prior to the proclamation of an emergency or in the event the forces were "imminently menaced." In a situation where the enemy was just down the road, the requirement to coordinate with the German Government prior to an emergency being declared was felt to be too restrictive. EUCOM felt that the large number of American troops stationed in Germany gave it the right to determine when to take additional security measures. This had ramifications on border operations in that this was the area where the most visible security measures might be taken in a pre-emergency situation. The American military authorities were careful to maintain the distinction between the term "civil police border security" and "military border security." They held
that they were responsible for military border security and would continue to be so, at least until the European Defense Community began to function. The formal signing of the "Convention on Relations Between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic of Germany" (the complete title of the Contractual Agreements) on 26 May 1952 seemed to wash over these objections by EUCOM headquarters. Both the British and the French had been reluctant to reopen negotiations of substance for fear the Federal Republic would want further concessions also. Regardless, the issue as far as border operations were concerned, seemed to be resolved in that the US forces would continue to provide a security screen and conduct border surveillance operations. A series of informal discussions between the Three Powers and the Federal Republic led to the conclusion that border operations would be conducted under the following provisions of the Contractual Agreements:
Article 2 specified that: "The Three Powers retain, in view of the international situation, the rights, heretofore exercised or held by them, relating to . . . the stationing of armed forces in Germany and the protection of their security, . . ."
Article 4 brought the question into the Western European defense concept: "The mission of the armed forces stationed by the Three Powers in the Federal territory will be the defence of the free world, of which the Federal Republic and Berlin form part."
Article 5 returned to the reserved rights position concerning the security of the Allied forces and stated: "Independently of a state of emergency, any military commander may, if forces are imminently menaced, take such immediate action appropriate for their protection (including the use of armed force as is requisite to remove the danger."
Thus, it was reasoned, with the real threat to the security of the Allied forces coming from the east, the effective surveillance of the eastern borders was necessary to insure that security. Amore simple explanation may be that it was the interpretation of the United States Government, and apparently of the Federal Republic of Germany's Government, that the provision of security for US troops stationed in Germany (which was specifically covered by the Contractual Agreements) included the continued surveillance of the eastern borders which was not specifically addressed in the Contractual Agreements).4
(U) Since only the United States and Great Britain ratified the Contractual Agreements by the end of 1952, the legality of conducting border operations was a moot point during this period. Of more immediate concern was the rather dramatic response from the East Bloc to the signing of the Contractual Agreements. On 26 May,1952 -- the same date the Contractual Agreements were signed -- the German Democratic Republic (GDR) Council of Ministers issued a decree concerning measures to be taken at the Demarcation Line. The decree provided for the creation of a 10-meter plowed control strip along the entire 1,345.9 kilometer boundary, an adjoining 500-meter restricted zone, and a 5-kilometer zone in which no one could reside without a special permit. Work on implementing this decree began almost immediately, with American border patrols observing as early as 27 May tractors and plows clearing a virtual "no-man's zone" along the border. Almost simultaneously, reports came in from other sectors of further plowing as well as brush and tree cutting. Although the East Germans had blocked most unauthorized crossing points with ditches and barricades in 1947 (see Chapter 2, International Relations), even more barricades were installed. Trees were removed along the border, houses were torn down, bridges were closed, and barbed-wire fencing began to be used. Farming and other activities along the border were tightly controlled, with fields in the protective strip being worked only in daylight hours and all labor being supervised by guards. The GDR Government decreed that ". . . crossing the ten-meter control strip is forbidden for all persons . . . Weapons will be used in case of failure to observe the orders of the border patrols." People living within the 5-kilometer zone required special identification and passes to enter or leave the zone.
(U) The reason for these measures, according to Prime Minister Otto Grotewohl, was to protect the GDR from ". . . spies, diversionists, terrorists, and smugglers" -- all of whom, apparently, were crossing the border from the west to the east. The real reason was to prevent what the GDR authorities termed "flight from the Republic," a crime that hundreds of thousands of East Germans had committed or were planning to commit. In the following months some 8,000 "unreliable" residents of the border area were scheduled to be resettled away from the border. Protests led in some instances to resistance, which was overcome by the Volkspolizei, with approximately 3,000 border residents fleeing west before could be resettled. As the border residents found their way across the border, they brought with them tales of hardship, forced evacuations, and the jailing of "political unreliables." The GDR boundary was effectively sealed in a matter of months, but Berlin remained a large loophole and became the major avenue of escape into the West.5
(U) With less fanfare, but no less effect; the Czechoslovak border had been sealed tighter in 1951. Already tighter than the East German border, efforts begun after the Communist Coup of 1948 (see Chapter 2, International Relations), were intensified during 1950. Throughout the year, Czechoslovak soldiers and civilian labor brigades had dismantled buildings along the border, erected barricades of logs and earth to block paths and wagon trails, and digging ditches across likely border approaches to halt wheeled traffic. In 1951 they began erecting barbed-wire entanglements, plowing strips, and digging entrenchments along considerable portions of the border. It was assumed that the plowed strips on both the GDR and Czechoslovak borders were used to detect a number of illegal border crossers attempting to flee to the Federal Republic; obviously, they also made it easier for the border crossers to be spotted by the recently-increased number of patrols being carried out on both borders.6
(U) Border Incidents
The most serious problem the American Zone authorities had with the Soviets and their satellites involved the long frontier separating the American and Soviet Zones in Germany and the portion of the Czechoslovak border next to the American Zone. Relations between the two sides deteriorated further as the "Cold War°" continued to heat up. Border incidents were frequent and included shots being fired at FRG border patrols and American military personnel along the border, occasional small scale patrols into FRG territory, and kidnappings of German and American personnel. Efforts by the East Germans to seal off their border and prevent the flight of the refugees caused still more tension along the demarcation line. There were further incidents involving Berlin access and the US Military Liaison Mission, but they have no impact on this study except as they affected the overall climate of relations between the two sides. There were constant reminders that Soviet policy was to make the Western Allies as uncomfortable as possible, both in Germany and elsewhere in Western Europe.
In 1951 border incidents were defined as any unusual happening at or near the border to include shootings, kidnappings, and incursions across the border. Such incidents would generate CONFIDENTIAL reports that were encoded in FOX CODE and included the following information:
- Personnel involved (US units, Germans, Soviets, East German police).
- Place and time to include exact location (it, was especially important to determine if it was in the US Zone).
- Details concerning killed or wounded, if appropriate.
A hostile invasion was reported by a FLASH report, which was transmitted in the clear. Although wounded personnel were to be given first aid and medical treatment, personnel killed would not be moved or disposed of in any way until the arrival of representatives from the squadron headquarters. Normally, all border incidents were investigated by military intelligence personnel.
In June 1952 the EUCOM headquarters Intelligence Division began a study on sensitive border areas between Hesse and Thuringia where trouble might be expected with, the Soviets; -- areas that had been the subject of disagreements in the past and might be exploited by the Soviets in their current campaign of harassment. Two areas were listed as current trouble spots (the Untermuehle-Obermuehle area, just east of Kassel; and the Ostheim Enclave area, approximately 20 miles north of Bad Kissingen) and three areas as potential trouble spots (the Philippsthal area; the "Neutral Road" area, which was an east-west road some 20 miles from Kassel; and the Eschwege area).
Before the Intelligence Division study was completed, however, there was an incident of major proportions in the Untermuehle-Obermuehle area. On 20 June 1952 Seventh Army transmitted to EUCOM a report received from the 24th Constabulary Squadron that the towns of Untermuehle and Obermuehle had been taken over by Soviet soldiers and East German border guards on 19 June. Residents of Untermuehle were informed by Soviet officers that the town was part of the Soviet Zone and that no one was authorized entry or exit until further notice. The residents of the town maintained that it lay in the US Zone and requested aid from US Zone officials.
The initial HICOG report to the State Department declared the area was well within the US Zone as defined by a 1945 agreement between Soviet and American military officials covering the exchange of Thuringian for Hessian territory in order to simplify the operation of an important railroad which crossed the old Land boundaries at several points. HICOG said that at some time subsequent to the agreement, the Constabulary had replaced a number of boundary markers for the guidance of its patrols and that the boundary markers in the disputed area had been placed along a road well within the US Zone, rather than along a brook which actually formed the interzonal boundary. Almost
from the beginning of the incident, however, 24th Constabulary Squadron reports had stated that the area did indeed belong in the Soviet Zone according to its maps and interpretation of the 1945 Sexton-Askalepov Agreement. Colonel L. H. Gallogly, of the EUCOM Intelligence Division, conducted an on-the-ground inspection of the border area in question and concluded that the area was in the Soviet Zone and that no border violation had been committed by the Soviets.
The Sexton-Askalepov Agreement, signed at Wanfried, Saxony, on 17 September 1945 by Brigadier General W. T. Sexton, US 3d Infantry Division Commander, and Major General V. S. Askalepov, 77th Soviet Guard Infantry Division Commander, had adjusted the boundary in order to bring within the US Zone a 2.7-mile stretch of railway which had been frequently denied to the US forces. This agreement placed the entire stretch of track in this area in the US Zone and involved the exchange of approximately four square kilometers of land by both sides (see MAP 4 and MAP 5). Under the terms of the agreement, troops had been withdrawn to the newly established demarcation line, but the residents of the area had remained with their property.
The results of the Gallogly inspection were reported up the line to the State Department. In the interim, Soviet soldiers and East German border guards entered the town of Untermuehle and forcibly evicted the residents and their household goods. Since it was fairly clear by this time that the disputed area was in the Soviet Zone, the US forces did not resist this action.
The incident generated a complete review of how such problems should be handled in the future. The HICOG had indicated in its initial reports to the State Department that it was hesitant to make specific recommendations because the facts did not seem firm. The initial confusion over the exact location of the boundary was heightened by indecision on the part of the German authorities over whose responsibility it was to resist overt land grabs. The State Department recommended that a complete review of boundary maps and boundary agreements be conducted in order to eliminate uncertainties concerning the exact line of demarcation. This should be done in coordination with British authorities and should include a comprehensive list of potential trouble spots. Next, it recommended that any new East German trespasses beyond the demarcation line (after it was firmly identified) should be immediately resisted by whatever forces were on the spot, regardless of whether they were German border police or troops of the United States or the United Kingdom. The German border police were to avoid any action where Soviet military personnel
Source: HQ EUCOM/USAREUR Comd Rept, 1952, p. 396. (Info used UNCLAS).
Source: HQ EUCOM/USAREUR Comd Rept, 1952, p. 397. (Info used UNCLAS).
were involved. The State Department stated that the problem of border protection should be regarded as a joint Allied-German responsibility, and that the United States should be prepared to support the Federal Republic in all cases by assuming final responsibility for border protection. It instructed the HICOG to raise the issue in the Allied High Commission and get British and French concurrence on this policy.
A HICOG-EUCOM working group, formed to draft recommendations on how to implement this policy within the US Zone, concluded that the security of the US Zone was a US responsibility and that the delegation of partial authority to the Federal Republic would not affect the right of US military commanders to take immediate action in the event of East Bloc aggression. It proposed that the Federal Republic be delegated the authority to take initial steps necessary to control border incidents and, in the absence of US military units, to detain members of the Soviet or East Bloc forces and to turn them over to the jurisdiction of the US forces without subjecting them to arrest. When a border incident occurred that involved Soviet or other East Bloc military units, the German border control authorities were to notify the local US commander who would immediately take charge and assume operational control of the BGS or Land border police in the area. Conversely, when no BGS or Land border police were present, US military border patrol personnel could detain and turn over to the FRG authorities any illegal border crosser subject to FRG jurisdiction. The importance of a close working relationship between American and German border personnel was stressed. The working group recommendations were approved by the HICOG and an agreement was reached between the HICOG and the Federal Ministry of Interior on 18 August 1952 that incorporated the basic premises of the working group. There followed a series of changes that were primarily a matter of refining how the principles would be implemented, with an emphasis on allowing American intelligence units access to illegal border crossers and defectors. The new instructions, went into effect on 1 January 1953.
The State Department suggestion that a comprehensive review of the boundary be accomplished fell on receptive ears at both HICOG and EUCOM. Incredibly, such a complete survey had never been accomplished by the US forces. Prior to the arrival of the State Department instructions, HICOG and the EUCOM commander had set up a joint,, program in July 1952 to assemble all agreements and other data pertaining to the US-Soviet interzonal boundary. A set of maps was furnished to the Seventh Army, on which it was requested to indicate where the border as understood by Seventh Army units coincided with or deviated from the border markings. The Seventh Army was to use the
medium of ground reconnaissance, rather than engineer- or artillery-type surveys. It was directed to mark any point along the border where roads or railroads used by West German or US personnel traversed East German territory and, conversely, any road or railroad used by the East Germans which traversed FRG territory. One purpose of the maps was to determine points where border incidents might occur due to doubtful jurisdiction, or to the existence of a road, water pipeline, or power line serving FRG residents which ran into the Soviet Zone.
During August 1952 the survey was carried out on foot in the company of German border and customs police who were familiar with the local areas surveyed. Unlike the plowed strip and other accouterments on the GDR side of the boundary, the markings on the actual border were less obvious. Border markings were placed on in-place boundary markers (normally old Land boundary-marking stones), trees, boulders, poles, and paved highways. In addition, border signs were placed on the border and at 300 meters from the border on all travelled roads. On stone markers and boulders, three sides were painted white with a 6-inch orange stripe around the stone. The top was painted orange and the side facing the Soviet Zone was left unpainted. Trees were marked on three sides by an 18-inch white background with a 6-inch orange stripe painted on the white background. Once again, the side facing the Soviet Zone was left unpainted. Paved highways were marked by an 18-inch-wide white background with a 6-inch orange stripe running across the highway. It was one of the duties of the border patrol and observation post personnel to inspect these markings and report any that needed repairs.
The Seventh Army border survey revealed three sensitive areas which might lead to incidents along the interzonal boundary. First, in the area defined in the Sexton-Askalepov Agreement, the Seventh Army and West Germans were honoring a boundary which did not coincide with the agreed boundary. Second, changes in the interzonal boundary had been made in two locations but no agreements existed to legally support the alterations. One of these changes was in the vicinity of Falkenstein and the other was near Tann. In both cases small parcels of land had apparently been exchanged. Third, a source of potential trouble had developed in the vicinity of the East German town of Liebau, which lay in a Soviet Zone salient projecting into the American Zone. The Soviet authorities, entirely within their rights, had created a plowed barrier across the top of the salient, thus isolating the town from its normal East German contacts.
On the basis of the Seventh Army survey and available documents on the subject, HICOG on 22 October 1952 forwarded to USAREUR* for concurrence a proposed statement of principles with regard to border delineation which would form the basis of detailed information to be transmitted to the appropriate West German officials. The HICOG statement contained a definition of the legal line of demarcation and a set of principles of operation for the disputed areas. The legal line of demarcation had been established by the European Advisory Commission (EAC) in 1944 along the old Land boundaries as they existed in 1941. With the exception of the above mentioned Sexton-Askalepov Agreement, the interzonal boundary between the Soviet Zone and the US Zone followed the Land boundaries between Thuringia-Hesse, Thuringia-Bavaria, and Saxony-Bavaria. HICOG noted that in some instances this legal interzonal boundary did not coincide with the areas currently under the administrative control of GDR and FRG authorities, either because of local verbal agreements between the Soviet and American military authorities in 1945 and 1946 or because of practices recognized by both GDR and FRG authorities since the early days of the occupation. HICOG proposed that the FRG governmental subdivisions concerned should continue to exercise administrative control over such areas notwithstanding their location in respect to the legal zonal line of demarcation or US Army troop dispositions. The Untermuehle-Obermuehle area, however, was to be considered as part of the Soviet Zone since the line of demarcation as established by written agreement clearly placed it within the Soviet Zone. FRG authorities were not to attempt to move into any territory which was legally within the FRG but under the control of GDR authorities. Any attempt on the part of the GDR authorities to move into areas legally within the Soviet Zone but under the nominal control of the FRG would be opposed by whatever actions were practicable without resorting to force. If necessary, the German and US border patrols would fall back to the legal lines of demarcation, where force could be resorted to if deemed advisable and necessary. HICOG expected the US Army to continue token patrols in areas which were legally within the Soviet Zone but lay within the line of demarcation as established by usage.
USAREUR concurred with the HICOG principles governing the delineation of the legal boundary, but objected to the principles for operating in disputed areas. USAREUR notified HICOG that in order for USAREUR to carry out its responsibilities, it was imperative that only
*(U) On 1 August 1952 EUCOM had been redesignated US Army, Europe (USAREUR).
one boundary be recognized which US forces would patrol and defend. USAREUR stated that official US sanction of local administrative control by the FRG authorities over areas not covered by written agreements would only serve to promote a potentially dangerous political situation. In December 1952 USAREUR withdrew its objections to the continuation of FRG administration of such questionable areas, but insisted that even token enforcement of the security of the areas could not be undertaken by US forces. At the end of 1952, the question was unresolved between USAREUR and HICOG and its consideration drops from sight in the official histories.
Two other issues regarding border violations or incidents came to a head in 1952 and should be addressed before this period is closed out. One, strangely enough, concerned border violations by trains, and the other was the ever-present border violations by aircraft. The crossing of the "Czech freedom train" on 11 September 1951 had drawn attention to the existence of a number of unused rail lines crossing from the Soviet Zone and Czechoslovakia into the American Zone. Even before this incident, the Seventh Army had recommended that the rails be cut at thirteen railway border crossings -- the rationale being that these rail lines could as easily be used by aggressor troops, especially since these crossing points were only intermittently observed by German border police and US Army border patrols. In September 1952 USAREUR again brought up the subject and recommended that each of the thirteen unused rail lines have a gap of no less than 500 yards created within one mile of the border by removing the track and destroying the roadbed. HICOG agreed to raise the issue, but thought it would be more appropriate through the Allied High Commission forum. At the end of 1952, tripartite action on this problem had not been completed.
The problem of the proper procedure for processing Soviet protest letters concerning alleged violations by aircraft of the Berlin air corridor boundary arose in 1952. There was confusion over whether USAFE or the Berlin Air Safety Center should handle the protests. The issue spread to include any violations of Soviet Zone airspace, to include interzonal boundary violations by aircraft. In November 1952 HICOG, USAREUR, and USAFE agreed to designate the HICOG Civil Aviation Division in Frankfurt as the central agency for receiving all written and oral Soviet protests, conducting and coordinating investigations of the affairs, and drafting coordinated replies to the Soviets. The HICOG Civil Aviation Division was also responsible for handling the reverse situation involving East Bloc aircraft violations of the American Zone. Other agencies would con-
Source: EUCOM Comd Rept, 1951, p. 214-A. (Info used UNCLAS).
tinue operating much as they had before, but HICOG's Civilian Aviation Division would insure that the final result was a coordinated US response to a Soviet protest or a coordinated American protest to the Soviets.7
(U) The Emerging Tactical Force
(U) In the fall of 1950, President Harry S. Truman announced a build-up of American forces in Europe to meet American commitments in the new NATO alliance. This decision was to have a major impact on the border security mission as a more mature theater army grew in place of the US Constabulary. The US Constabulary headquarters was inactivated on 24 November 1950 and its personnel absorbed into the newly activated Seventh Army, with the 1st Infantry Division and the Constabulary units being assigned to Seventh Army.8 The 1st Constabulary Brigade was inactivated on 15 August 1951, followed by the 2d Constabulary Brigade on 15 November, leaving only the 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons using the Constabulary designation in their titles (the armored cavalry regiments continued to use it in parentheses after their titles).9 The V Corps was assigned to Seventh Army on 3 August 1951, followed by the VII Corps on 2 November. By the end of 1951, Seventh Army's major tactical units were the V Corps, which included the 2d Armored Division, 4th Infantry Division, and the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment; and the VII Corps, which was composed of the 1st, 28th, and 43d Infantry Divisions, as well as the 2d and 6th Armored Cavalry Regiments. After inactivating the Constabulary brigades and the two Constabulary squadrons, Seventh Army reorganized its armored cavalry regiments into regimental combat teams by adding an armored infantry battalion and an armored field artillery battalion to each regiment. The 14th ACR was assigned a tactical border screening and security mission in front of the 4th Division, with the 2d ACR doing the same for the 1st Infantry Division, and the 6th ACR for the 43d Infantry Division. (See MAP 6).10
(U) Although Seventh Army and its tactical units had been made responsible for the security of the eastern borders on 2 May 1951, the peacetime border security mission was still being carried out by the 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons and a troop of the 6th ACR. As in the past, other units contributed small detachments for relief purposes during shorts periods of time. The two Constabulary squadrons also went through several transfers and changes during this transition period. The 15th Constabulary Squadron, which had been directly assigned to the 2d Constabulary Brigade, was attached to the 1st Infantry Division from 22 March 1951 to 28 November 1951, when it
Source: 7th Army Anl Hist Rept, 1 Jan 53-30 Jun 54, p. 311. (Info used UNCLAS).
became attached to the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment. During 1952, the 15th passed back to the 1st Infantry Division and then back again to the 2d ACR, where it remained until its inactivation on 15 December 1952. The 24th Constabulary Squadron had been assigned to the 14th ACR and, the 1st Constabulary Brigade, but with the inactivation of the 1st Constabulary Brigade (which had provided most of its day-to-day supervision) and the arrival in Germany of the 4th Infantry Division, the 24th was attached to the 4th for operations only on 28 June 1951 (Troop C of the 24th, however, remained under operational control of the 15th Constabulary Squadron). Technically the complete border security mission was assumed by the 14th ACR of V Corps and the 2d and 6th ACRs of VII Corps on 8 December 1952, although the 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons were not inactivated until 15 December. (See MAP 7.)11
(U) Intelligence Mission on the Border
The intelligence mission of the Seventh Army units patrolling the borders was limited in scope. The 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons and the 6th ACR troop, which had regular patrolling responsibilities on the border, occasionally apprehended illegal border crossers, but all interrogations were carried out by German border police agencies and US military intelligence teams assigned that mission since patrol members normally did not have a foreign language capability. A certain amount of positive intelligence was acquired through visual observation of the border area by unit patrols and aircraft, with the aircraft having the advantage in depth of observation. Unusual activity among the eastern patrols, changes in frequency in patrols, changes in type of equipment carried, were typical of the kind of information gathered by border patrols. Information of a minor nature was sometimes obtained by observation posts in daylight and listening posts at night, although their primary mission remained early warning.12
Seventh Army was responsible for collecting by noncovert means intelligence within the US Zone pertaining to the physical security of zonal borders adjacent to the Soviet Zone and Czechoslovakia. This function was carried out by the 7827th Military Intelligence (MI) Service Company, which had MI sections assigned along the border to facilitate its collection mission. Illegal border crossers apprehended by American troops were turned over to the 7827th sections for interrogation. It also compiled the information gathered by noncovert means by the border patrols. Its most important function was its close liaison with the German border police agencies, which cap-
tured the lion's share of illegal border crossers and passed on information of intelligence value to the 7827th. The unit was redesignated as the 532d Military Intelligence Service Company on 15 August 1951 and redesignated and reorganized as the 532d Military Intelligence Service Battalion on 21 September 1951; it continued to work directly for the Seventh Army G-2, as had the 7827th MI Service Company. The counterintelligence mission in the US Zone belonged to the 66th Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) Group, with its 427th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment providing this service to the Seventh Army. The 427th CIC Detachment, in addition to its overall counterintelligence mission, investigated border incidents, conducted border liaison between the US and Soviet Zones, and interrogated illegal border crossers and German prisoners of war returning, from the east.13
As can be seen from the above, there was some overlap in missions between the two organizations -- particularly in the interrogation of illegal border crossers. Several conferences were held in the first half of 1951 between these two organizations and other interested parties, and it was decided that beginning on 1 October 1951 the 532d Military Intelligence Service Battalion would be responsible for centralizing American collection efforts from illegal border crossers (IBC). Since this unit made most of the initial contacts with the IBCs apprehended by American patrols and had a close liaison with the German agencies, it was a natural choice. The unit was responsible for making up identification cards on the IBCs and ascertaining their knowledge ability in various fields of intelligence (e.g., ground military, air, naval, political, economic, or scientific and technical), and to notify the agencies primarily concerned with that type of information. This single point-of-contact method made for a significant improvement in liaison with the German agencies.14
(U) Proposal to Use Labor Service Units as Border Service Organization
Although there had been some thought given to using foreign nationals to provide border control during the early years after World, War II, the idea had been discarded as being impractical (see Chapter 1). In September 1950, however, the Operations, Plans, Organization, and Training (OPOT) Division of EUCOM headquarters submitted a staff study on the feasibility of forming a border service organization from the next authorized increase in Labor Service personnel. Labor Service units at this point in time were organizations composed primarily of Germans or displaced persons who performed support missions for the
US Army. The study pointed out that the eastern border was approximately 425 miles long and required -constant surveillance by border patrols to detect and report evidence of concentration or movements of military and paramilitary personnel in the Soviet Zone or Czechoslovakia. The projected -- at that time -- reorganization of the Constabulary units into tactical units would require that spaces be provided for the border patrolling mission and would free the border patrol equipment for use by another organization. The study concluded that it was feasible to use a Labor Service organization for this mission if Department of the Army would authorize a "regimental" type of organization of approximately 4,000 spaces and the issue of the equipment to this new organization. It was reasoned that Germans were more familiar with the border and could perform the mission better than US soldiers. In addition, they would not be subject to the propaganda charges that arose whenever a border incident occurred between US soldiers and the eastern military organizations.
It was envisioned that the Constabulary would train the unit at Wildflecken while continuing to perform the border mission, after which the Constabulary trainers and soldiers on border patrol would be available for the tactical reorganization. A matter of great concern was that the organization might eventually provide the nucleus of a West German military force -- a taboo subject in 1950. What was expected to be an international issue too hot to handle never really materialized because of lack of resources. The US Constabulary and Seventh Army commanders both thought the plan was a good idea, but EUCOM headquarters vetoed the idea in 1951 due to a lack of equipment (the ACRs kept much of theirs as they were reorganized) and primarily a lack of Labor Service spaces. The proposal remains as one of those interesting "what if?" questions.15
(U) Founding of the German Federal Border Guard
Increased surveillance of the eastern border was to be accomplished by another organization rather than the proposed Labor Service regiment. On 2 March 1951 the German Federal Government passed a law establishing a Federal Frontier Protection Authority, which would be composed of 10,000 men and would be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Interior. The formal approval of the German Federal Border Guard (Bundesgrenzschutz or BGS) by the Bundestag was the culmination of an ongoing disagreement between the Allied High Commission that had started with the inclusion of two provisions in the Federal Republic's "Basic Law" of 23 May 1949: Article 87, which allowed it to establish border security authorities; and Article 91,
which allowed it to assume control of Land border police agencies in an emergency: The Allied High Commission, acting under its occupation powers, suspended the latter article. The Allied High Commission did relent in 1950 and allowed the FRG national government to begin recruiting and equipping garrisoned mobile armed police forces at the Land level, which would ultimately serve as the cadre for the envisioned national border police. When the Allied High Commission rescinded its suspension of Article 91 on 30 January 1951, the way was cleared for the creation of an effective national border police force.16
(U) The obvious cadre for the Federal border police would have been the Land-level border police of Hesse and Bavaria, but these personnel were unavailable in 1951. In Hesse their numbers had been reduced after their founding in 1946; first through successive eliminations of the boundaries between the US, British, and French Zones (1947-1949), and then by the establishment of the Federal Republic in 1949. In October 1949 the Land Hesse Border Police were absorbed into either the regular state police of Hesse or the Federal Republic's new customs police. The establishment of the Federal Customs Service in September 1949 had some impact on the Bavarian Border Police (BBP) also in that the portion of the BBP that handled customs matters was absorbed into the Federal Customs Service. However, Land Bavaria kept intact the rest of its border police, which still polices the international boundaries bordering Bavaria today.17
Recruiting for the BGS began in April, and the training of cadres 12 battalions and several group headquarters was initiated on 17 May 1951. In July the authorized strength was raised to 20,000. Although there were fears in some quarters that the BGS would be the nucleus of a West German army, it was described as a police force whose purpose was to provide a mobile, lightly-armed strike force against threats to the security of the borders and be available to combat internal threats constituting a national emergency. It was expected that the BGS would restrict most of its activities to an area within 30 kilometers of the Federal borders.18
As early as April 1951 the Federal Government had requested American help in equipping and training the new organization. The Germans initially asked for weapons similar to those used by the Italian mobile police forces, but since these weapons were not normally provided to police-type organizations, there was an extensive period of negotiations carried out in American military and diplomatic channels. After rejecting BGS use of 60-mm mortars and the inclusion
of 37-mm cannon on armored cars (a caliber not authorized for police work), in December 1951 the Germans purchased 60 M8 armored cars and an assortment of small arms, to include machine guns to be installed on the M8s. The firing ranges at EUCOM training areas near Wildflecken, Rosenheim, and Amberg were used for weapons familiarization courses provided by Seventh Army instructors. The armored car drivers and mechanics were instructed at the Butzbach Ordnance Depot.19
By late summer 1951, EUCOM headquarters began to study the possibility of using German Federal border police in conjunction with US military forces in the event of an invasion by eastern forces. Information was sought through the US High Commissioner for Germany (HICOG) on the proposed mission, organization, equipment, and location of BGS units. The HICOG agreed this was a good idea and suggested that such forces would be even more effective if armed with light infantry weapons. The State Department, however, objected that this was not the proper time to make such plans and that the new organization should not be used in this manner. As a consequence, EUCOM headquarters temporarily discontinued planning in this direction.20
Although USAREUR headquarters (EUCOM was redesignated on 1 August 1952) and Seventh Army could not plan on- using the BGS during wartime, they still envisioned it assuming part of the peacetime border surveillance and security mission. With the planned inactivation of the 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons in December 1952, it was hoped that the ACR units which would replace them would be allowed to concentrate on their tactical mission as opposed to day-to-day border patrols. However, when the BGS became operational on 15 February 1952 with an authorized strength of 20,000 men, the German Government did not issue instructions for the units to take over or assist in local border security functions in the manner of Seventh Army units. They began by patrolling the German borders somewhat to the rear of the Land border police, and their instructions were that they should initially operate against subversive elements which might cross the border in force -- that is, they had a back-up role.21
Due to the considerable savings in personnel and other resources that would be reaped from passing on to the BGS the US Army's peacetime border surveillance mission, Seventh Army headquarters requested that CINCUSAREUR approach the German Government on the transfer of this aspect of its border security mission. A major hindrance to granting the Seventh Army request was that the Allied High Commission had already determined that the BGS was to be strictly a police organization, and had reiterated this on 17 September 1951
when it said that the functions of a mobile police force should be limited to the maintenance of internal security. This policy had also been reiterated by the US State Department during late 1951 when surplus equipment was being transferred to the BGS. The State Department said that a cautious attitude should be taken toward any further development of the border police in the direction of a paramilitary force. The French in particular became alarmed about the organization of German units that might be transformed into the nucleus of a German armed force. It was feared that the assumption of military border security by the BGS in part or in whole would give' the organization the appearance of a paramilitary force similar to the Soviet Zone's Volkspolizei. In addition there was the fear that upon assuming this new mission, the German Government would ask for more equipment and armaments, to include heavy automatic weapons. As a consequence, CINCUSAREUR concluded that the military security of German borders would remain the responsibility of the occupying powers until the "Contractual Agreements" came into effect. The "Contractual Agreements" were being negotiated during this period and were the first tentative steps toward officially ending the occupation.22
At the request of the German Government, a liaison bureau was established in Stuttgart on 15 February 1952 that would facilitate the necessary close working relationships between the BGS and US Army units. This bureau, within the limitations described above, was to help coordinate the scope of German border responsibilities with EUCOM (later USAREUR), HICOG, and the Seventh Army. The liaison bureau was composed of one officer and four enlisted men from the Seventh Army and an equal number from the BGS. The bureau exchanged information of mutual interest concerning border control, to include coordinating routes and frequency of patrols as well as the location of BGS units. Ground rules agreed upon between the American and German members, in coordination with the British, who had a similar bureau in their zone, were that the BGS was not an intelligence-gathering agency and would not employ agents or make collection efforts. However, any information of an intelligence nature that the BGS patrols found would be turned over to the appropriate Allied or German intelligence agencies. This was facilitated by the early 1952 American decision to begin releasing to the Germans limited counterintelligence information up through SECRET and positive intelligence information up through TOP SECRET. On 31 October 1952 the Stuttgart liaison bureau was discontinued because coordination between the local BGS units and the Seventh Army field units had advanced to such a stage that the bureau was no longer necessary.23
By 1953 the role and mission of the BGS had solidified considerably over the nebulous role it played in 1952. Its mission remained that of an armed alert border patrol equipped to handle routine border control problems such as illegal border crossings of a nonmilitary nature. Whenever US units became aware of actual or potential illegal border crossings, they would normally contact the nearest BGS unit to make the arrest, with the US units prepared to assist if needed. The US units retained responsibility for the military security of the border, however, and could assume operational control of the BGS and the Bavarian Land Border Police if there was a crossing in force. In addition to its border patrol mission, the BGS was responsible for the control of riots and civil disturbances within 30 kilometers of the border.24
There were two controversial incidents involving the BGS in 1953. The large-scale uprisings in the Soviet Zone fueled fears in the Bundestag (the Federal Republic's parliament) that there was a need or a large, powerful internal security force to protect the FRG from such uprisings. Since there had been much agitation by the Bundestag prior to these uprisings for a larger BGS, and the Allied High Commission did not anticipate similar civil uprisings in the US Zone, it decided not to approve the request for a larger force. CINCUSAREUR, it should be noted, was in agreement with this assessment of the situation.
The second incident had greater potential for embarrassing USAREUR. On 26 March 1953 elements of the BGS conducted a joint exercise at Wildflecken with the US 373d Armored Infantry Battalion. The exercise apparently had been arranged between officers of the two units, with the VII Corps commander, Major General J. M. Gavin, and other American and German General officers in attendance. In light of the Allied High Commission s and United States Government's opposition to any attempt by the Federal Government to turn the BGS into a paramilitary organization, this was an unfortunate incident. Although USAREUR and Seventh Army issued instructions that no further joint military exercises would be carried out, there was a strong reaction in both the French and German press.25
(U) Seventh Army Border Operations
The newly activated Seventh Army had been made responsible in December 1950 for investigation of border incidents and border liaison between the American and Soviet forces in Germany (see Border Incident section, above). The Seventh Army commander received a letter in May
Source: 7th Army Anl Hist Rept, 1 Jan 53-30 Jun 54, p. 180 (Chart 43). CONF. XGDS.
1951 outlining his responsibilities for military security of the eastern boundary of the American Zone, emphasizing the need for special border surveillance of critical points and avenues of approach on a 24-hour basis. As in the past, this mission was to be performed by mobile patrols, observation and listening posts, as well as aerial observation patrols (see FIGURE 2). Seventh Army was to carry out direct liaison with the Brims Army of the Rhine (BAOR) and the US Forces, Austria (USFA) to insure coordinated border security measures. By 1953, as the Seventh Army matured into a tactical force, this mission entailed responsibility for the defense of the eastern boundary in the event of hostilities, while covering the evacuation of dependents and other US noncombatants. The main purpose of USAREUR border operations by this time was to detect and report movement or indications of impending movement of an enemy force from the Soviet Zone and/or Czechoslovakia into the US Zone. Although Germany was still technically occupied, border control had effectively passed into German hands.
Fairly precise rules of engagement had evolved over the years. Soviet, Czechoslovak, and East German military personnel found in the US Zone without proper authority were to be detained and reported to EUCOM/USAREUR headquarters. Reasonable force -- to include weapons -- could be used if after being instructed to "Halt," the soldier attempted to flee or resist. If they came in such numbers that the patrol could not safely apprehend them, it was to maintain visual contact and give continuous reports on size, type, location, and movement. Conversely, American personnel were instructed to resist, by force if necessary, being arrested by eastern zone personnel in the US Zone. If they happened to stray over a boundary, they were to attempt to get back into the US Zone safely. If apprehended they were to give only their name, rank, and serial number.
Every attempt was to be made to apprehend individual or small group illegal border crossers without resorting to gunfire since it was desirable not to discourage defection by personnel who might prove to be valuable sources of information. Civilians who crossed the border were to be kept under surveillance until one of the German border police services could apprehend them. Patrols were specifically instructed not to interfere with orderly mass crossings of Soviet Zone German civilians unless they threatened property or people in the US Zone. With prior approval, the patrols could stop, interrogate, and apprehend German nationals on a spot basis in an attempt to catch agents attempting to infiltrate into the US Zone in civilian clothing. In addition, any suspicious person could be detained for
(U) A "headquarters armored car" (M8) from the 15th Constabulary Squadron patrols along the border. October 1952.
the German border police services. As can be seen, the rules of engagement were designed to encourage defection, but not leave US soldiers vulnerable to hostile gunfire.
Any US or Allied uniformed military personnel found within three kilometers of the border -- this was enlarged to five kilometers in 1951 -- without proper authorization were apprehended by the patrols. US or Allied civilians or persons dressed in civilian clothes and driving military vehicles within five kilometers of the border were stopped, had their credentials and identification papers checked, warned of the proximity of the border, and allowed to proceed on their way. Except for operations with the German border police -services, US border patrol personnel, observation post personnel, and military police customs personnel were not allowed to go any closer than 100 meters of the border. The purpose of the 100-meter restriction for these personnel and the 5-kilometer restriction for other military personnel was to preclude inadvertent crossings of the border.
The entire border was covered at least twice daily -- once in the daylight hours and once in the hours of darkness -- by patrols that pulled 12-hour shifts. Each patrol consisted of not less than two combat-loaded, 1/4-ton trucks (jeeps) or one jeep and one M8 armored car (with a 37-mm gun),. and was manned at a minimum with a patrol leader, assistant patrol leader, radio operator, machine gunner, and two drivers. One vehicle carried an SCR-506 radio and the other mounted a .30-caliber light machine gun (some carried .50-caliber machine guns). They normally patrolled no closer than 100 meters to the border or further than 10 kilometers inland. The border patrols, as well as the observation posts, operated under tactical conditions and used appropriate military formations as outlined in Field Manual 21-75.
Twenty-four-hour surveillance was carried out in certain critical sectors: Regnitzlosau to Lichtenburg, Teuschnitz to Fladungen, and Tann to Witzenhausen. Some sites were selected as permanent or static observation and listening posts because they would allow observers . to see or hear the enemy if they came down the most likely avenues of approach. Each troop manned approximately three permanent observation posts and had nine listening post sites preselected (some observation posts were also listening posts). Others were manned on a random basis and changed as conditions dictated a more favorable site. Although some observation posts had been located right next to the border, it was determined in 1950 that they would be
more effective if they were moved several kilometers behind the border, thus giving them a greater area of coverage and making them less susceptible to surprise attacks. Each site was manned by at least three soldiers: an observer, a combined recorder and radio operator, and a guard. The soldiers were trained in all three job assignments so that they could be rotated and no one would have to be the observer for more than one hour without relief. During the hours of darkness or poor visibility, the observation post personnel could move to a listening post. Close coordination was maintained between the patrols and observation post personnel when the patrols were in the area or the observation post personnel were changing positions.
The border units made maximum use of air patrols to increase the effective depth of observation across the border. Each squadron normally divided its area of responsibility into two sectors for the purpose of air surveillance. Air patrols flew directly along the border, normally three times a day: at approximately first light, between the hours of 1000-1500, and at last light. It was not unusual, however, to increase this basic requirement to keeping up to three aircraft in the air during the hours of daylight. In addition to a pilot, each flight required a qualified observer who maintained a log that was submitted to the squadron S-2. Starting in 1949, units had begun using the new L-17 reconnaissance aircraft in addition to the already-in-service L-5s.
Since the Constabulary squadrons normally had only two aircraft organically assigned, it was necessary for additional aircraft, pilots, observers, and maintenance personnel to be attached to the squadrons in order to accomplish the border surveillance mission. The Constabulary brigades and the divisions to which the squadrons were assigned bore the heaviest burden of supporting the border units. However, aviation support requirements were levied command wide on a monthly rotational basis, to include the detachment which supported the Seventh Army headquarters.26
With the increase in international tensions in 1952 (see above), Seventh Army determined in June that night observation by reconnaissance aircraft of critical approaches to the US Zone might be necessary in the fall, the period intelligence sources thought the Soviets most likely to attack. The critical areas to be observed at night were: Nordhausen to Kassel, the Eisenach-Hersfeld Autobahn, the road net south of Meiningen, Eisfeld to Coburg, and Autobahn entering the US Zone in the vicinity of Hof. The night observation flights were to be initiated when the command thought they were
necessary or be on call upon the assumption of-simple or reinforced alert conditions. The new mission required the installation of electrical runway and obstacle lights on airfields at Kassel, Hersfeld, Fulda, Coburg, and Hof, as well as portable searchlights for establishing control points that would preclude the pilots flying over the border. Although the USAREUR Intelligence Division objected to the night flights because of their potential nuisance to the German populace and the, location intelligence that lighting up airfields would give to the enemy, the command decided that the intelligence gathered on Soviet intentions and troop build-up made up for the risks involved. The required construction was accomplished and the possibility of initiating night reconnaissance flights under the appropriate conditions was entered into the plans.27
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