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Border(Czech)

West German and Czechoslovakian border

Border operations by the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment

Border operations

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The 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment, with headquarters at Nuernberg (Merrell Barracks), conducted border operations in the VII Corps' sector as follows, from north to south.

 

The 3d Squadron of the 7th Cavalry (3d Infantry Division) had been placed under the operational control of the 2d ACR for border operations only in September 1977 and was responsible for the border sector from PA 136760 to PA 607713. It operated out of Camp Coburg (PA 409708).

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The 2d Squadron of the 2d ACR was head quartered at Bamberg (Warner Barracks) and operated out of Camp Hof headquartered 056780). It was responsible for the border sector between PA 607713 and QA 119854.

The 1st Squadron of the 2d ACR was headquartered at Bindlach (Christensen Barracks) and operated out of Camp Gates (TR 962430). It was responsible for the border sector between QA 119854 and UR 140426.

- The 1st Squadron of the 1st Cavalry (1st Armored Division) had been placed under the operational control of the 2d ACR for border operations only in November 1978 and was responsible for the border sector from UR 140426 to UQ 293890. It operated out of Camp Pitman (TR 937064). (Camp Weiden was renamed Camp Pitman.)

- The 3d Squadron of the 2d ACR was headquartered at Amberg (Pond Barracks) and operated out of Camp Reed (UQ 183658) (Camp Rotz was renamed Camp Reed) and Camp May (UQ 584281). It was responsible for the border sector from UQ 293890 to VQ 148029.

- The 1st Squadron of the 1st Cavalry (1st Armored Division) had been placed under the operational control of the 2d ACR for border operations only in November 1978 and was responsible for the border sector from UR 140426 to UQ 293890. It operated out of Camp Pitman (TR 937064). (Camp Weiden was renamed Camp Pitman.)

- The 3d Squadron of the 2d ACR was headquartered at Amberg (Pond Barracks) and operated out of Camp Reed (UQ 183658) (Camp Rotz was renamed Camp Reed) and Camp May (UQ 584281). It was responsible for the border sector from UQ 293890 to VQ 148029.

- Early in the 1970s, Camp Wollbach and Camp Phillipsreut had been used in the VII Corps sector, but by 1974 they were no longer listed as active border camps.

- The 2d ACR also had a Command and Control Squadron (Provisional), which included the air troop and support troop (air) that accomplished the regimental serial surveillance mission as well as other regimental elements and was stationed at Merrell Barracks and Feucht Army Airfield in Nuernberg. The air troop, designated Attack Helicopter Troop, conducted surveillance in the Weiden and Regen sectors, while the support troop (air), designated Support Helicopter Troop, had responsibility for the Hof and Coburg sectors.27

(U) Organizationally, the two armored cavalry regiments were similar in most respects. In addition to regimental headquarters elements, each regiment-was composed of three line squadrons and a provisional command and control squadron. Each line squadron consisted of a headquarters and headquarters troop and three cavalry troops as well as a tank company and a howitzer battery or troop. The line-up was as follows: 1st Squadron - A, B, and C Troops, and D Company (tank); 2d Squadron - E, F, and G Troops, and H Company (tank); and 3d Squadron -I, K, and L Troops, and M Company tank) -- plus an unlettered howitzer battery or troop for each squadron. The command and control element -- Command and Control Squadron (Provisional) in the 2d ACR, or the Combat Aviation Squadron, as it was named in the 11th ACR -- was composed of an air troop and a support troop (air), under various names in each unit, as well as a headquarters and headquarters troop, an engineer company and, in the 2d ACR, an Army Security Agency (ASA) company. The divisional cavalry squadrons that augmented the two regiments, either full- or part-time, were organized much as their counterparts except that they were usually short howitzer batteries and tank companies, but sometimes had air troops.

The Federal Republic of Germany-Czechoslovak Border

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The 365-kilometer Federal Republic-Czechoslovak common border was marked by historical border markers and after the mid-1970s, by the same kind of 1-foot square, plain-white granite border trace stones and tall white poles with blue stripes that were used on the inner German border. Although the Czechoslovak Border Guards (Phonranicni Straz - PS) did not have as elaborate a border barrier system at their disposal as their East German counterparts, it was considered difficult to cross the Czechoslovak border undetected. Primarily, they depended upon border patrols and signal fences to halt would-be escapees.

The PS used six types of border patrols:

- Control patrols checked the barrier system and inspected the credentials and permits of personnel found in the restricted zone.

- Observation patrols conducted intelligence reconnaissance of sections of the border from camouflaged positions, reporting on the movements and activities of Western border agencies.

- Alert patrols checked the signal fence for possible short circuits and responded to possible escape attempts.

- Performance patrols checked on the alert patrols and the general efficiency of the border guards by short circuiting the signal fences and then concealing themselves in order to observe the efficiency of the alert patrols when they responded to the alarms.

- Technical patrols performed general maintenance along the border area.

- Aerial patrols were conducted by the Czechoslovak and Soviet air forces. Normally, they were looking for large groups of unauthorized personnel in the border areas.

 

As a rule, the PS used vehicle and foot patrols as well as guard or observation towers to secure the border. Observation towers were not normally occupied at night or during periods of limited visibility. At these times, the guards remained at the foot of the towers, and foot patrols accompanied by dogs secured the border. Czechoslovak guard towers in the early 1970s were made of wood and stood approximately 10 meters high. They were similar to the East German watch-towers except that they had an exterior catwalk around the edge. By the end of the decade, they had begun building 3-legged steel towers.

Up until the first part of the 1970s, they normally used a single strand barbed wire fence along the border, but at that point they increasingly began to rely on the U-60 Signal Fence, which consisted of a 2-meter high strand barbed wire fence strung on "T" shaped concrete fence posts and employing an electrical signal device. A person attempting to get through the fence, over it, or to cut it would activate an alarm at the nearest PS command post, which would dispatch an alert patrol to the alarm area. It was easily identifiable because when the alarm was set off, a light on the fence would illuminate and stay on until reset by the alert patrol personnel. It was and is difficult to determine how extensively they used the U-60 Signal Fences in that they often built them out of sight behind the tree lines, anywhere from 100 meters to 4 kilometers from the border. They began building an improved model in 1977 that was approximately 20 centimeters higher, used a rust-free barbed wire, and mounted the signal devices on wooden brackets which allowed them to keep the fence turned on during thunderstorms.

The patrols were supplemented by well-trained attack dogs, which allegedly were cross-breeds of female wolves and male German shepherds. In areas the PS considered high risk routes of escape, it often constructed cable runs and attached guard dogs, who could run the entire length of the cable. The Czechoslovak border guards relied heavily on their attack and guard dogs to secure the border. The attack dogs, used on patrol, would attack only on voice command and would give silent warnings of the presence of a border crosser. The guard dogs were less intelligent and usually more excitable, not necessarily a handicap for a dog whose main function was to detect intruders and give warnings.

The border area was marked off by a series of zones that controlled access to it by the normal citizen. There was a variable 6- to 12-kilometer restricted zone in which only those who had been cleared for political reliability and possessed a special pass could reside. Next to the border were forbidden or "dead zones of from 2 kilometers in wooded or rough areas or 10 to 12 meters in heavily populated areas. And immediately on the border was an approximately 80-meter border zone that was posted with a sign stating: "Border Zone. Admission Only By Special Written Authorization."

In areas that were considered likely routes of escape, the barrier system was elaborated with three fences -- two outside barbed wire fences with a taller signal fence in the middle. The space between them contained more barbed wire and signal flares. In. areas they considered potential major routes of attack, they often built steel hexagons and concrete tetrahedrons. In earlier years, they had plowed and raked a 3- to 5-foot wide clear zone between the border and the main barrier, which permitted the guards to check for footprints. In recent years it was extended to approximately 24 feet in front and behind the signal fences.

Other improvements in the system during this period were the installation of searchlights and floodlights, paved access roads in some areas to facilitate the movements of the motorized patrols, and the use of East German-style metal grid fences in some sectors. There were indications they considered using SM-70 mines during the mid1970s, but as of the end of this report, the Czechoslovak border contained no known mine fields or firing devices. There had been reports that they employed a pseudo-mine that exploded with a loud bang when activated and, of course, they used trip-wire flares both on the barrier and close by. One interesting experiment they were trying was a device that connected a loudspeaker and tape recorder to the signal fence. When the fence's alarm system was activated, a tape was played of barking dogs, rifle shots, and the command to stand still.

 The Czechoslovak border barrier system, even with these improvements, remained less formidable than the East German system. (See picture above for pictorial description of the modern Czechoslovak border barrier system.) However, it was this low visibility of their system that constituted the greatest danger for US border operations.

(Source: history.army.mil/documents/BorderOps/ch6.htm)

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***Pending Update***

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