NATO Allies stationed in West Germany

Canadian Forces Base Lahr

Canada had maintained a presence in Europe as part of the NATO forces since 1951, when 27 Canadian Infantry Brigade was initially deployed to Hanover attached to British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). This formation, which was formed primarily with Military units, eventually moved to a permanent base at Soest in 1953. To begin with, it was intended to rotate brigades to Germany - 27 CIB was replaced by 1 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in October 1953, which in turn was replaced by 2 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in 1955, and then 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group in 1957. The arrival of 4 CIBG saw a significant reinforcement of the formation's capabilities; prior to this each brigade had only been equipped with a squadron of main battle tanks. The arrival of 4 CIBG saw a full armored regiment equipped with Centurions and an independent brigade reconnaissance squadron with Ferrets. In 1959, when 4 CIBG's tour was due to end, a change was made in the reinforcement policy for West Germany. Instead of whole brigades rotating every two years, the decision was made to keep 4 CIBG and its associated brigade units in place, instead rotating the major combat elements to Germany every three years.

The brigade was headquartered in Soest. Individual units were stationed both at Soest and other towns in


North Rhine-Westphalia:

  • Soest - BHQ, 1 x infantry battalion, service units

  • Hemer - 1 x infantry battalion, artillery regiment

  • Werl - 1 x infantry battalion, engineer regiment, field ambulance

  • Iserlohn - armored regiment


In 1962, 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group was reinforced with a helicopter recce troop operating nine CH-112 Nomad helicopters. The CH-112 was Canada's variant of the American Hiller OH-23 Raven observation helicopter. Into the 1960s, the Brigade strength was around 6,700 men organized into three mechanized infantry battalions, a reconnaissance squadron, an artillery detachment and a logistical operations detachment. It was subsequently called a 'light division' by Canada's British counterparts. On 1 May 1968, 4 Canadian Infantry Brigade Group was redesignated as 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group in response to Canada's armed forces being unified to become the single Canadian Forces. After a review of Canadian policy, the Canadian government reduced defense spending and reduced the force in Europe by half.

(Library and Archives Canada Photo)

4 CMBG, RCD Leopard tanks and 3rd Bn RCR M113 APCs and jeep  Germany, Sep 1980.

It was also decided that instead of being an attachment as an active part of the British Army of the Rhine, the 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group would be given a new role and status as a reserve unit attached to the American US VII Corps or II German Corps. With its new status and designation, the unit was relocated to the town of Lahr in southern West Germany where it stood up at Canadian Forces Base or CFB Lahr. Now in a reserve status, 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group's nuclear capability was thus withdrawn although, the unit would continue serving as a deterrent against Soviet aggression in Europe.


Canadian Infantry Brigade Group/Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group units included:



  • The Royal Canadian Dragoons - 1957-1959, 1970-1987

  • Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians) - 1966-1970

  • 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's) - 1960-1964, 1988-1993

  • The Fort Garry Horse - 1962-1966



  • 1st Battalion, Canadian Guards - 1959-1962

  • 2nd Battalion, Canadian Guards - 1957-1959

  • 1st Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment - 1962-1965

  • 2nd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment - 1965-1969

  • 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment - 1977-1984, 1988-1993

  • 1st Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry - 1964-1967

  • 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry - 1966-1970, 1984-1988

  • 1er Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment - 1967-1993

  • 2e Bataillon, Royal 22e Régiment - 1965-1969

  • 1st Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada - 1960-1964

  • 2nd Battalion, The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada - 1957-1959

  • 2nd Battalion, The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada - 1962-1965

  • 3rd Mechanized Commando, The Canadian Airborne Regiment - 1970-1977



  • 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - 1957-1960, 1967-1993

  • 2nd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - 1964-1967

  • 3rd Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery - 1960-1964



CFB Lahr

  • 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Headquarters and Signal Squadron

  • one armoured regiment

  • 1970–1987 - The Royal Canadian Dragoons

  • 1987–1993 - 8th Canadian Hussars (Princess Louise's)

  • 1st Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery

  • 4th Air Defence Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery

  • 4 Combat Engineer Regiment

  • 4 Service Battalion

  • 4 Field Ambulance

  • 4 Military Police Platoon

  • 1er Battalion, Royal 22e Régiment

  • 444 Tactical Helicopter Squadron

  • 5 AMU (Air Movement Unit)


Initially equipped with Centurion tanks and Ferret armored cars, Canadian military capabilities were enhanced with the replacement of the Centurion by the Leopard 1 main battle tank and the employment of the M113 armored personnel carrier.

The Royal Canadian Air Force also committed a detachment No.1 Air Division RCAF at Canadian Forces Base Baden-Soellingen. With the need for greater NATO air defense commitments, No.1 Air Division RCAF was officially established in the 1950s initially at four bases in France and West Germany. These bases respectively were RCAF Station Marville home to No.1 Wing and RCAF Grostenquin home to No.2 Wing positioned in France and RCAF Station Zweibrücken home to No. 3 Wing and RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen home to No.4 Wing located in West Germany. Each wing had three fighter squadrons assigned to them each. Eight air division squadrons were replaced with strike aircraft complete with nuclear capability an issue which would prove quite controversial in Canada.


In 1963, the French government announced that all nuclear weapons positioned on French soil would fall under French control, an announcement that the Canadians and other NATO forces strongly disagreed with. As a result of this, all Canadian nuclear strike forces were relocated to RCAF Station Zweibrücken and  RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen. In 1964, RCAF Station Grostenquin was closed with its assets transferred to RCAF Marville. RCAF Marville would later be subsequently closed when France withdrew from NATO's military command structure and ordered all foreign military forces to vacate French soil or thus fall under French military authority. The units from RCAF Marville were then transfered to RCAF Station Lahr. In 1966, the Canadians took over Base Aérienne 139 Lahr which was operated by the French Armée de l'Air. French forces were vacating the base in compliance with the French withdrawal from NATO. The first RCAF personnel would arrive in March 1967 when it was renamed RCAF Station Lahr.

With the consolidation of Canadian military forces, RCAF Station Lahr was renamed Canadian Forces Base Lahr which was shortened to CFB Lahr. RCAF Station Zweibrücken would also be closed followed Canadian defense reviews in 1969 as part of an effort to remove duplication of force projection and cut the defense budget. Soon only RCAF Station Lahr and RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen remained. Along with the fighter units maintained at CFB Baden-Soellingen, there was a mechanized infantry battalion assigned there as well. Mechanized Infantry Battalions at CFB Baden Soellingen included:


  • 1970-1977: 3rd Mechanized Commando, The Canadian Airborne Regiment

  • 1977-1984: 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment

  • 1984-1988: 2nd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry

  • 1988-1993: 3rd Battalion, The Royal Canadian Regiment


In addition to these units there was a communication squadron as well as an air defense battery and a multi-force airfield repair unit. Under the reorganization of Canadian defense forces, No.1 Air Division RCAF became 1 Canadian Air Group. Following a period of intense renewed Cold War tensions, CFB Baden-Soellingen received improved infrastructure and services as well as upgrades and improvements to the base to accommodate the arrival of new CF-18 Hornet multirole fighters to replace the CF-104 Starfighters.

Belgian Forces in Germany

Notes: Decoded:The cold war in Europe.

Dutch forces in Germany

Pending Update

 (Library and Archives Canada Photo)  Bavaria, Germany 1979.

Belgium was another country that faired roughly throughout the Second World War. Having been under German control since 1940, the country was ravaged by the occupation and the waging of war upon its soil. Tough lessons were learned during the Second World War that the Belgian leadership used to dictate Belgian foreign policy, primarily the collective security of the Kingdom of Belgium. On 17 March 1948, Belgium joined the Republic of France, Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Kingdom of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom in signing the Treaty of Brussels, The Treaty included a mutual defense clause which was seen as a step towards European security cooperation in post-war Europe. The Brussels Pact was effectively a precursor to NATO effectively emphasizing security cooperation in western European nations through mutual defense agreements. Its shortcomings were that it envisioned a European mutual defense pact against Germany where as NATO recognized Europe as being divided along the lines of western nations and communist nations. Belgium officially joined the NATO organization on 4 April 1949, as a founding member.  

Belgian national policy initiated the use of conscription into national service in which those fulfilling national service requirements served for a period of 18 months. Three Belgian infantry brigades were positioned in Germany at the end of World War II on 1 April 1946 under British military control as part of the British Army of the Rhine. This force was designated as Belgian Forces in Germany. It was also known as Forces belges en Allemagne in French or Belgische strijdkrachten in Duitsland in Dutch. The dual name for the armed force comes from the mixed language influence of the Kingdom of Belgium with roughly 60% of the population speaking Dutch and the other 40% speaking French. Shortly after joining the NATO military pact, Belgian forces were given their own zone complete with operational autonomy in the British sector of northern Germany.


The Belgian area of responsibility in West Germany included the towns of Aachen, Köln, Söst, Siegen and Kassel in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. The Belgians also maintained a garrison in the city of Bonn until 1949. Initially an occupation force in post war Germany, with the establishment of the Bundeswehr and addition of West Germany to NATO in 1955, the Belgian Forces in Germany were redesignated as a protection force in which it provided a unit known as I Belgian Corps for NATOs Northern Army Group. I Belgian Corps was comprised of two divisions, the 1st Infantry Division and the 16th Armored Division. The Belgian Army initially received nuclear capabilities in the early 1950s with the introduction of the MGR-1 Honest John surface to surface missile. These missile systems were later augmented with the introduction of field artillery capable of firing nuclear armed shells.  

 Belgian Land Forces were equipped with West German designed Leopard main battle tanks, M113 armored personnel carriers, Scimitar and Scorpion reconnaissance vehicles, Striker guided missile carrying vehicles and Spartan armored personnel carriers. Artillery units were equipped with the M109 Paladin and M110 self propelled howitzer gun systems and Aviation components operated Aerospatiale Allouette II helicopters for reconnaissance and battlefield observation.  


With the establishment of I Belgian Corps and plans for military engagements against the Warsaw Pact were drawn up, Belgian military planners also began to plan for the evacuation of families from regions under Belgian influence. The Belgian zone of Germany was effectively considered as a 10th quasi-province of the Kingdom of Belgium with tens of thousands of Belgian civilians living in the area supporting the roughly 40,000 Belgian soldiers stationed in the area of responsibility. This number would be gradually reduced to a force of nearly 25,000 by the time of the collapse of the German Democratic Republic in 1990.


In the event of mobilization in the event of war, I Belgian Corps would join the NATO Northern Army Group and join the I Netherlands Corps, I British Corps and I German Corps in a designated sector between Hamburg and Kassel extending back to the German-Dutch and Belgian borders and forward to the Inner German Border zone with East Germany to form a force countering Warsaw Pact military operations across the North German Plain.


I Belgian Corps was headquartered in Hälen Kaserne, Köln. The Belgian Army’s 14th and 20th Artillery Battalions positioned in Germany were augmented by elements from the United States Army’s 4th U.S. Army Field Artillery Detachment located in Werl, West Germany. The 1st and 16th Divisions were designated as Mechanized Divisions in 1960. The 1st Division of I Belgian Corps was headquartered in Bensberg, West Germany and consisted of: 

  • 1st Infantry Brigade stationed in Siegen

  • 7th Mechanized Brigade stationed in Spich

  • 18th Armored Brigade stationed in Euskirchen

The 16th Armored Division was headquartered in Niehem, West Germany and was  comprised of:

  • 17th Armored Brigade stationed in Duren

  • 16th Infantry Brigade stationed in Ludenscheid

  • 4th Infantry Brigade stationed in Söst

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