The 11th ACR in Cold War Germany

The 11th ACR in Cold War Germany

Following the victory in World War II, the US Army’s 11th Cavalry Group found itself performing occupation duty in Allied-controlled West Germany. The 11th Cavalry Group was reconstituted the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop (HHT), 1st Constabulary Regiment. The unit was deactivated in 1948, but within a decade would be reconstituted the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR). The 11th ACR was redeployed to Germany, with its headquarters stationed in Straubing Bavaria. For the next seven years, the 11th ACR patrolled the border between West Germany and Czechoslovakia, serving as a trip-wire force should the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact push into West Germany.

In 1966, the 11th ACR found itself deployed to Vietnam.  In 1968, the son of the famed Gen. George S. Patton, Col. G.S. Patton IV took over command of the regiment. During this period, the army would use the 11th ACR to test the aluminum armored M551 Sheridan tanks in combat. The 11th ACR would earn its stripes in Vietnam, perfecting armored tactics in both jungle and urban terrain that would later be utilized by the US Army in its operations in Panama and Iraq. From 1966-1972, the 11th ACR remained forward deployed to Vietnam before it returned to Germany to once again serve on the front-lines against the Soviet Union.

From 1972-1994, the 11th ACR was stationed in the region known as the Fulda Gap. The region had a long and important strategic and military history. During Napoleon’s retreat from the Battle of Leipzig, he marched his forces through the Fulda Gap back to French territory. The region was one of the proposed locations for a Soviet offensive into West Germany should a nuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact erupt. Like it had done a decade earlier, the 11th ACR was to serve as a trip-wire force for US and NATO forces in Europe while Allied units were assembled and sent into Germany. The 11th ACR continued its service in Germany following the end of the Cold War before finally being redeployed back to the United States. Today the 11th ACR serves as the OPFOR (opposing forces) element at the US Army’s National Training Center in Fort Irwin California.

Look for more information regarding the history of the 11th ACR in Vietnam in the upcoming Strategy & Tactics issue #295 with the article “Ambush on Blackhorse Convoy” and join the conversation on Facebook!

About The Author

Kyle is a Military Historian and Senior Editor at Strategy & Tactics Press. A fourth-generation combat Veteran, Kyle retired from the United States Army in 2010. He specializes in military operations from 1945-Present and has written extensively regarding the future of asymmetrical warfare.

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  1. james reeves

    I was talking to a gentleman today and mentioned I was in the 14th ACR stationed in Fulda, Germany in the mid 50s . I mentioned I thought the 14th became the 11th ACR in 72. He disagreed saying the 11th had been active since 1901. I read the 14th was refllagged as the 11th ACR when it returned to Germany in 72 after service in Vietnam. Who’s correct?

    1. Dan McGowan

      Yes, while the 11th ACR was established in 1901, the Amy doesn’t always move lock stock and barrel of a unit around the world. It is true that when the 11thAcR was “sent” back to Germany in 1972, it was accomplished by relflagging the the 14th ACR to the 11th ACR. This means those soldiers and equipment stationed with the 14thACR one day, were soldiers of the Blackhorse Regiment the next day. I served in Alpha Troop 1st Squadron 11th ACR in Fulda Germany from Sep 1980-Jan of 1989.

  2. Pat Sullivan

    The unit may have existed, but the personnel in that unit varied considerably. The US Army would often ‘re-flag’ an existing unit to another designation and do little more than simply change the brass, colors and host a small ceremony. No personnel were actually exchanged, not even any of the command structure.

    Saw it multiple times in my career – went from the 6-32 Armor to 3-68 Armor as a private on day in Fort Carson back in 1983 and the drawdown in Europe after 1991 meant a whole drawer full of unit brass in my desk drawer.


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