(Last update 3/23/07)
The Cold War officially started in 1945, though the Troopers of the Constabulary period no doubt hoped for peace following the horrors of war. There is no definitive moment for the onset of the Cold War, though by 1949 the chilling evidence of a growing world menace was obvious to world leaders. Winston Churchill had declared that "an Iron Curtain" had descended on the countries of Eastern Europe. During the Constabulary period many of the indicators of future conflict already existed.
As the political situation in the Soviet Zone of Occupation began to change, the border surveillance mission for the Regiment began a new period. The Regiment was making the transition to the Cold War. Initially the Regiment operated from the cities of Freising and Augsburg, and in 1951 the Regiment established its headquarters in Nuremberg.
In 1955, the Regiment was ordered to Fort Meade, Maryland, under a "gyroscope" rotational plan with the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment. It "gyroscoped" back to Germany in 1958, reestablishing Regimental headquarters in Nuremberg at Merrell Barracks. The gyroscope program was cancelled and the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment would remain in Germany for the next 33 years, covering the entire duration of the Cold War.
The Regimentís mission was to train for war and conduct border surveillance. The Regimental headquarters were established at Merrill Barracks in the city of Nuremberg. The squadrons were located throughout southern Germany, with First
Squadron operating out of Bindlach, Second Squadron in Amberg, and Third in Bamberg. The Regimentís aviation elements operated out of Fuecht airfield and eventually became the Fourth Squadron. The Regimental Support Squadron and the Command and Control Squadron operated from Nuremberg as well.
The Regiment conducted gunnery training at Grafenwoehr, maneuver training at Hohenfels, later the Combat Maneuver Training Center, and participated in numerous REFORGERís (Return of Forces to Germany) exercises. The troops were constantly rehearsed to perform their portion of the NATO war plan. During its time in Germany, the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment saw improvements in equipment and facilities, as the Army bounced back from the cuts of the post-Vietnam era. Throughout this era the Regiment was considered one of the most elite units of the entire Army and the best trained of the 300,000 soldiers stationed in Europe.
During the Cold War era the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment was responsible for surveillance of 731 kilometers along the Iron Curtain. Its sector included 375 kilometers of the border separating West and East Germany, as well as the entire 356 kilometers of the West German-Czechoslovakian border. From a distance, the border area appeared deceptively peaceful and scenic. Close inspection, however, revealed a massive and deadly barrier system. A series of metal mesh fences topped with barbed wire and equipped with sensitive warning devices, guard towers with interlocking fields of observation, and concrete walls similar to those found in Berlin presented a formidable barrier to freedom. Only a few legal-crossing points existed and these were heavily guarded and fortified. The East German and Czech border commands consisted of hand-picked individuals who were considered politically reliable and were well-trained in marksmanship and surveillance skills. The low number of successful escapes from East Germany, normally about 25 a year in the Second Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) sector, testified to the deadly efficiency of the barrier system.
To conduct continuous border surveillance in sector, the Regiment operated six border camps in addition to the home garrisons of the squadrons. Camp Harris located in the town of Coberg, Kingsley Barracks in Hof, Camp Gates in Brand, Camp Pitman in Weiden, Camp Reed in Rutz, and Camp May in Regen. From the border camps, Second ACR units patrolled their sectors by vehicle and on foot. Helicopters from the Fourth Squadron assisted from the air. At each border camp, a reaction force was kept on standby around the clock and could clear the camp within 15 minutes of the alert horn sounding. Finally the Regiment worked closely with the German border agencies, the BGS (Bundesgrenzshutz) and BBP (Bavarian Border Patrol), and the ZOLL (Customs Police), sharing intelligence information and conducting joint patrols. The mission of the Regiment demanded the constant vigilance and dedication of all the soldiers stationed along the Iron Curtain.
In November 1989, Second ACR witnessed the opening of the Iron Curtain. Regular border patrols were discontinued on 1 March 1990, ending the Cold War phase of the Regimentís history. The Cold War era represents the longest single mission in the history of the Regiment, lasting 25% of the unitís entire lifetime.
Families played an important role in the life of the Regiment while in Germany. Volunteer and family support groups provided aid and sponsored family activities for the entire unit. The Regiment and its squadrons also held family days and open houses so that both its family members and the German populace could understand the soldiers' jobs and the mission of the Regiment. To assist in this effort and to help the Regimental commander pass his policies and messages directly to the soldiers, the Regiment published its own monthly newspaper, The Dragoon, from 1976 to 1991.