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!