The U.S. Constabulary in Post-War Germany (1946-52)

The end of World War II brought rapid demobilization and an enormous reduction in the nation's Armored Force. By mid-1948, for example, only ten Regular Army divisions remained active and only one of these was organized as an armored division (i.e., the 2d Armored Division). Amid the disorder of post-war Germany in 1945-46, however, there was still a need for highly mobile organizations to serve as a multi-capable security force in occupied areas. Standard infantry units lacked mobility, and military police units lacked the firepower to perform the many functions that would be required. A mobile and flexible force would allow fewer troops to control a larger area with minimum personnel, as the nation's demobilization policy demanded. Armor and cavalry organizations were noted for their mobility, so these units formed the basis of what would be called the U.S. Constabulary.

Gradually, soldiers from various units and specialties, elements of the 1st and 4th Armored Divisions, and existing cavalry units that were already conducting similar functions, were reorganized and redesignated as constabulary organizations. The U.S. Constabulary became fully operational on 1 July 1946. It consisted of its headquarters and special troops, the 1st, 2d, and 3d Constabulary Brigades, and the 1st, 2d, 3d, 4th [this regiment served in Austria, with one squadron stationed in Berlin, but did not report to the HQ, U.S. Constabulary], 5th, 6th, 10th, 11th, 14th, and 15th Constabulary Regiments. Each regiment had three squadrons that conducted routine patrols and maintained static posts to control the border and crossing points. The Constabulary was organized to provide unit representation within each significant geo-political boundary in the occupied zone. Each of the three Constabulary Brigades was stationed in one of the German "states" in the U.S. occupation zone. The regiments, squadrons and troops carried this presence down to the smaller political boundaries. Almost 35,000 soldiers formed the Constabulary, which suffered from a continual loss of trained personnel due to frequent turnovers. Force reductions in 1947 caused the inactivation of the HQ, 3d Constabulary Brigade, and the 1st, 3d, 5th, and 10th Constabulary Regiments. In addition, the Army inactivated the regimental light tank troops, and each squadron was reduced by one line troop.

As a new and more democratic German nation developed, along with its own police force, there was less need for the Constabulary's police mission so it began to transform into a more defensive combat force. By 1948, German police assumed the Constabulary's old police and border missions, while the remaining constabulary regiments were strengthened for possible combat by adding reconnaissance, rifle, and weapons platoons to each line troop. The Army also inactivated the 15th Constabulary Regiment and reorganized three more (2d, 6th, and 14th) into armored cavalry regiments [The U.S. would keep at least two ACRs in Germany until the end of the Cold War]. The HQ, U.S. Constabulary was inactivated on 24 Novembe 1950, and most of its elements subordinated to the concurrently activating Seventh Army. The 2d Constabulary Brigade, with the 15th and 24th Constabulary Squadrons, were the last operational units and continued until their inactivation in December 1952.

The U.S. Constabulary: 1946 Organization and Equipment

Prepared by DAMH-FPO / Apr 2000