Guarding Balance of Power at Iron Curtain's Edge





For decades a hilly region in central Germany divided by the Iron Curtain was at risk of becoming the ground zero of a nuclear World War III. During the Cold War, troopers of the U.S. 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment -- known as the Blackhorse regiment -- patrolled this border from Observation Post Alpha near the West German town of Fulda.

They were there to protect the so-called Fulda Gap -- a key weakness in the West's defense. It was the most difficult area for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to defend because of its accessible terrain and a geography that marked a deep protrusion of eastern territory into the West.

The Fulda area, about 100 miles from Frankfurt, was seen as an attractive avenue for a military push from the East into Western Europe.

Roger Cirillo, who served in the Fulda area as a captain during the 1970s, says he always trained his soldiers to expect a situation where the enemy would outnumber them. But he knew that in case of an attack, "there was no way that I could do my job without getting killed." He also left no doubt in his subordinates that they were likely to die if it came to defending their post.

Mr. Cirillo, now director of the Association of the U.S. Army's book progam, in Arlington, Va., remains fascinated by Cold War Germany. After retiring from the armed forces, he got his doctorate and researched defense plans of both sides...


comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe to our mailing list