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Old 04-15-2009, 12:31 PM
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Default The Longer Version Part 7

Jan-Mar 1997
The Longer Version Part 7

After US forces crossed the Inter-German Border, many in the West had hoped the fighting might be limited to Germany (with air action involving neighboring states). Their hopes were soon dashed, however. Full NATO participation in the German War (as the Soviets now were calling the fighting in Central Europe) prompted Defense Secretary Sauronski to depose Premier Danilov. Sauronski immediately set in motion his plan to use the remaining strength of the Soviet Union to change the world order to Soviet advantage. Soviet forces invaded Norway and rolled into Iran. Goaded by offers of Soviet support, Communist North Korea launched the invasion of South Korea for which the Red state had prepared for forty-five years. By New Year’s Eve 1997, it was clear that the United States was committed to war in Europe, the Middle East, and the Far East.

President Clinton enacted a draft. Training facilities across the US soon would be filled to overflowing with brand new soldiers, Marines, seamen, and airmen. For several months, TRADOC would find itself operating at capacity just providing replacements for the forces already in being.

Fort Huachuca found itself in the (somewhat) happy position of already having the sort of facilities needed under construction. Although the new facilities at the Intel Center represented a mere fraction of the vast ranges, support networks, and maneuver areas of posts like Forts Benning, Leonard Wood, and Sill, the addition of Huachuca’s limited capacity was welcome nonetheless. Moreover, construction already was underway.

By mid-January, the first barracks that had been intended for use by reservists were complete, along with the first of the maintenance shops, storehouses, administration buildings, and ranges necessary for Basic Training. As soon as drill sergeants could be found, the first company of basic trainees began training. The numbers of new soldiers who could be trained at Huachuca never began to approach the numbers of the TRADOC giants, though.

Though initially overwhelmed by the transition to world war, the Pentagon’s Department of Contingency Planning soon regained its focus on preparing CONUS bases to serve as sustainable centers of operation in the event of a nuclear exchange. If anything, such an exchange had become more likely. Several important decisions were undertaken at this time.

Almost from the moment US forces in Germany engaged in combat, American losses mounted quickly. Within two days, it became obvious that the war in Germany would be no repeat of Desert Storm. Victory would come, but it would come at a price. Among the casualties were men who would not be able to return to combat as a result of their injuries. Some of these men would be able to return to active duty, though. The Army decided to use as many of these veterans as possible to help prepare new soldiers for war. The DCP went a step further and placed a contract for a major addition to Huachuca’s existing medical facility so that some of the rapidly growing stream of recuperating soldiers could be sent straight to Huachuca. Construction on post continued to expand as a result, and the number of partially disabled combat veterans on post grew quickly.
Prisoners of war became another important issue in December. When the Soviet Union did not quickly seek terms with the US, NATO was forced to find quarters for growing numbers of EPW (enemy prisoners of war). International conventions stipulate that POW must be quartered in a climate like that of their capture, insofar as possible. Enemy soldiers captured in the Middle East would have to be quartered in the American Southwest. Almost immediately after Hussein launched his second invasion of Kuwait at the beginning of 1997, Iraqi EPW needed housing. The Gulf Council partners were eager to have the Iraqis out of the Gulf. Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, and Oregon were selected for Southwest Asia Theater EPW facilities.

As EPW began to be collected in Korea, Southwest Asia, and Europe, the MI community made a shrewd (if somewhat illegal) pitch to the Pentagon. Native speakers of all the languages spoken by enemy forces were beginning to arrive in the US. Why not create special internment areas near all the government language schools? The language students at Monterey (CA) could gain valuable experience while they learned from the natives. Cooperative EPW could receive preferential treatment. It went without saying that the interrogators at Fort Huachuca could receive a stellar boost to their training by practicing on real live EPW under controlled conditions. The Pentagon agreed and signed off on the addition of a substantial EPW facility at Fort Huachuca. EPW from every Pact and Pact-aligned nation would be sent to both Monterey and Huachuca to facilitate language training.

By February, Fort Huachuca had become a beehive. Construction of the facilities approved in the second half of 1996 had accelerated dramatically. The refit of existing facilities (lower water consumption, PV arrays on the roofs) was proceeding apace. Contractors were brought in from as far away as Phoenix. New wooden barracks and all the attending infrastructure were needed for a minimum of 5,000 EPW, to be housed away from the main post but inside the boundaries of the post. (It was felt that rammed earth structures would be the equivalent of housing the EPW in bunkers.) Arizona ARNG and Army Reserve units quickly occupied whatever new barracks had been constructed while they conducted a hasty train-up in anticipation of their deployment overseas. 11th Signal Brigade packed everything the brigade would leave at home into shipping containers or consolidated it at a handful of locations so that the brigade facilities would be available to support the ramp-up. Although the surge of volunteers had not arrived on post yet, they soon would.1 Some reserve construction units were kept on-post to support the rapid expansion of infrastructure.

The rapid growth of Fort Huachuca was hardly unique. Now that large numbers of replacement troops would be needed (to say nothing of the soldiers needed to field new formations), every TRADOC post was expanding at this point. In many cases, buildings left over from the Second World War were hastily refurbished and put back into use. The Department of Defense recognized, however, that new facilities were desperately needed virtually everywhere in CONUS.

As the work at Huachuca expanded, Sierra Vista and the surrounding towns experienced a modest boom. The most noticeable growth was in trailer parks.

Throughout the nation, the nascent State Guards experienced a surge of volunteers at the same time that the states began sending their National Guard units away. The surge in volunteerism was by no means uniform. Arizona, a conservative-leaning state with a large population of retired military, was near the top of the list for volunteers. Although some of the volunteers were twenty-somethings who hoped (mistakenly) that joining the Arizona State Guard (AZSTAG) would keep them from being drafted and sent overseas, the majority were men between the ages of 40 and 60 who had some military experience or who belatedly wished they hadn’t opted out on Vietnam. A useful number, though, were young women who wanted to help the war effort without being sent overseas. Included among them were medical professionals and skilled administrators AZSTAG would need.

Cochise County, home to Fort Huachuca, enjoyed a robust early volunteer rate for AZSTAG following the entrance of the US into the war. Many senior NCOs, warrant officers, and field grade officers had wrangled assignments to Fort Huachuca and Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson for the purpose of retiring to a warm locale with a modest cost of living. One of the first companies brought into state service was based in Cochise County.

Ironically, the federal mobilization of National Guard units left the states with funding for their troops. In Arizona, Governor Symington coordinated with General Thomason to use Fort Huachuca to send some of the first State Guard volunteers through an abbreviated Basic/Refresher Training. Although critics would later point to Thomason’s decision to make room for the State Guard in the tightly-packed Huachuca schedule of facility use as an example of official corruption, his decision to repay Symington for the use of state employees would prove a wise one.


1. Military Intelligence tended not to receive draftees. Almost uniformly, the new MI soldiers were volunteers. A relative handful of very high-scoring draftees would be offered the chance to take an MI MOS. For the most part, though, Intel received volunteers—even if those volunteers were principally trying to avoid being drafted into the infantry.


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