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Old 04-13-2009, 10:46 PM
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Default The Longer Version Part 6

Oct-Dec 1996
The Longer Version Part 6
In mid-1996, Fort Huachuca had too many colonels of Military Intelligence. In fact, there were about a dozen of them on post. There were legitimate jobs for three of them: commander of the 111th Military Intelligence Brigade, post chief of staff, and a highly classified ELINT position. As a result, work had to be found for nine or so “full bull” colonels who otherwise were inclined to gripe and play politics in the hopes being selected to fill one of the scarce real jobs. Upon receiving notification that he would have funding to go ahead with a variety of projects on-post and throughout southeastern Arizona, post commander MG Thomason began disbanding a host of official-sounding but useless projects and detachments that had been created to keep the otherwise unoccupied MI colonels busy.

Leadership of the Contingency Detachment passed from Walsh into the hands of one of these colonels. One of the conditions attached to the funding now being sent to Huachuca was that direction of the projects using the funds had to be in the hands of someone more senior than a brevet captain. Thomason wanted to keep the day-to-day leadership in the hands of Walsh, who would take on the role of deputy. He also wanted a senior leader who would enhance the functioning of the CD and who also had the command experience to oversee further growth of the detachment. Thomason conducted a series of interviews and reviews, attempting to find a colonel who would not, in Thomason’s own words “…wreck the entire program just to prove he’s in charge.” Such a colonel was not easy to find. However, in due course Thomason handed command of the CD over to one Colonel Sylvia Renzetti.

Other aspects of the post improvement projects were handed out to other of the under-utilized colonels. To their credit, most of them recognized that they were being given an opportunity to do something useful. One or two griped overmuch and were promptly sidelined again.

One useful aspect of the construction of new facilities was the opportunity for Walsh to try large-scale employment of rammed earth construction on post. Rammed earth buildings would use local materials for their walls. The soil mixture available on post was generally suitable for rammed earth, although in some instances modest amounts of concrete would be mixed in. Rammed earth buildings enjoyed the advantage of high thermal mass. The structures would require little cooling during the hot southern Arizona summer and little heating during the mild winter. As a further energy-saving measure, earth-cooled piping was installed instead of air conditioning. An air pipe extending above the roof of the building would allow air to be drawn out by winds flowing over the top of the structure. Air would be introduced through a series of pipes leading from small intakes outside the structure. The pipes would be buried and thus would remain cool even in the middle of the summer. Air passing through the pipes would be cooled before being introduced to the interior of the structure. As the weather cooled, some or all of the intake pipes could be closed.1

On October 7, 1996 the world woke to a new war. The Federal Republic of Germany launched an invasion of the Democratic Republic of Germany that achieved almost complete surprise. The Soviets had been drawing on their forces in Eastern Europe to bolster their effort in the Far East. The Group of Soviet Forces Germany (GSFG) had been reduced to fifteen divisions. Likewise, Soviet divisions had been withdrawn from Poland and Czechoslovakia. With Pact forces streaming eastwards, West German leaders had concluded that the best opportunity for German reunification in fifty years was presenting itself. The Bundeswehr crossed the border into East Germany in an effort to achieve that reunification. East German forces took up arms to protect their base areas, but otherwise they refused to take to the field against their cousins.

The response in the United States was electric. Public opinion polls showed that most Americans believed that the Soviet Union would blame the US for the new war. Most Americans believed the United States would have to get involved sooner or later. Nearly a third were afraid the fighting in Germany would lead to nuclear war within a week. In fact, the start of the war in Europe led to the first nuclear scare in which civilians fled the big cities.2

Across the US, Reserve and National Guard units were mobilized.3 The Selective Service system was put through rehearsals. Across the nation, contingency plans for nuclear and conventional war were reexamined. The 11th Signal Brigade, one of the two tenant brigades at Fort Huachuca, was put on alert to deploy with the XVIII Airborne Corps should the need arise. Along with other TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) posts, Fort Huachuca was ordered to update its plans for receiving and training a “surge” of new soldiers.

By the end of November, the West German reunification effort clearly was failing. Despite its superb equipment and first-rate leadership, the Bundeswehr simply lacked the numbers to defeat a Warsaw Pact enemy who was throwing tens of thousands of fresh troops into battle each week. The Luftwaffe, too, was badly outnumbered. The Soviets could afford to exchange losses with the West German fliers at a five-to-one ratio. The West Germans began to fall back during the last week of November.

At Fort Huachuca, passions were running high in support of the West German allies. Thomason, however, had felt that the Germans were biting off more than they could chew by invading the DDR. A reunited Germany was a bugbear that menaced all Eastern Europe as little else could. The Soviets had created the Pact as a forward defense against invasion from the West. In more ways than one, the most important section of the Soviet defensive perimeter was the Inter-German Border. A Germany in three pieces (West Germany, East Germany, and Austria) could be managed. A unified Germany might not be manageable. Just as Hitler had turned from remilitarizing the Rhineland to unification with Austria, so a victorious FRG might absorb Austria. From there, backed by the United States, Germany might embark on any number of terrible enterprises. The nuclear option, though available, ran the very high risk of the destruction of the Soviet state. Better by far to prevent the reunification of Germany by all conventional means available.

Thomason understood the vast reserves of manpower still available to the Soviets. Therefore, he was not terribly surprised that despite the vast numbers of Soviet soldiers killed and captured by the Bundeswehr the divisions of GSFG were still fighting hard after six weeks of high intensity combat. Nor was he surprised that the Polish, Czechoslovak, and Hungarian troops who had given such lackluster performances on the Far Eastern front gave an entirely different showing of themselves in East Germany. Everyone was frightened of a reunified Germany. Thomason said as much to the Joint Chiefs of staff when they solicited his opinion on whether the US could intervene profitably.

Whether the Joint Chiefs ignored the commanding general of the Military Intelligence School and Center or passed his opinion along to the President, the US Army crossed the Inter-German Border on December 1, 1996 and was in combat against Pact forces shortly thereafter.



1. A number of favorable reviews of the rammed earth construction were written in local and national periodicals. Walsh made certain that as many of these reviews as he could find were sent to Thomason, who promptly forwarded them to Congress and the Pentagon.

2. Although Huachuca paid little attention to the flight of civilians from Phoenix and Tucson at the time, later study of the movement of refugees would be of critical interest.

3. Some National Guard formations had been mobilized before the FRG launched its reunification effort. Notably, a number of formations had engaged in what were called “extended AT”. The pre-war mobilization of some US reserve units clearly suggests that the White House was not completely in the dark about West German plans to reunify the two German states by force, statements by the Clinton Administration to the contrary notwithstanding.


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Old 04-15-2009, 10:43 AM
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I presume no feedback (in this crowd) means no one has any real objections to things as I am laying them out. No important issues that anyone feels are going unaddressed?

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Old 04-15-2009, 10:56 AM
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Just enjoying the reading.
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Old 04-15-2009, 11:10 AM
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I'll be honest. I want to read everything (again) leading up to this so I can put this information in context, but I have not had the time over the past few days. I am looking forward to it.
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Old 04-17-2009, 05:37 AM
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Ditto what Mohoender said...

Excellent work - very well written.

I'm looking forward to the next chapters.
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Old 04-17-2009, 07:27 AM
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No objections. Just like you SOG work, you've obviously put a lot of thought and effort into it. I've saved all of your stuff. Nicely done.
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Old 04-17-2009, 10:56 AM
cavtroop cavtroop is offline
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This stuff is excellent reading! You've obviously put a ton of effort into this, and I eagerly anticipate the next in the series.

Hopefully you'll put this all together in a pdf or something for future consumption, too!
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