join military


Histories for 202nd MP Co (All Periods/All Vets & Active Duty)

Terrorism at NATO Site 4?
With the passing of years, I have found our stories and experiences at NATO Site 4 similar to those recounted by vets from other sites in the former West Germany. Some stand out. Most of the stories are included in the post titled Stories, in this History section. One story is not included there. Part of it is here. Perhaps, you know the rest of the story?-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Under the Freedom of Information Act, I wrote to the Department of the Army (and later to V Corps) regarding NATO Site 4. I was pursuing information on terrorist operations, demonstrations, and Soviet/Warsaw Pact plans. Over twenty years has passed since many of these incidents occurred. While the Freedom of Information request was acknowledged by V Corps, it has not been answered to date. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ A number of things stick in my mind about my time at NATO 4--- Falling down the final flight of icy steps at the top of Tower 3 one winter?s night. Walking the perimeter in the damn fog on countless nights. The smell of sheep dip baking in the sun out in the Restricted Area (they used sheep to keep the fields of fire clear and to minimize concealment). The Mermite Can meals. Gliders taking off and landing to the north. Escorting workers in the rain, sleet, and snow, while the Microwave detection systems were installed. LT Tim Smith and his Pizza Infernos. Witnessing the bunker doors actually being accidentally welded shut. Fearing for my life when demonstrators mobbed my M880, only to be beaten harshly by the Polizi. Hot air balloons hovering over the exclusion area, hundreds of demonstrators on the north perimeter, and M60 tanks ringing the site. Relieving a man from a tower that smelled like a distillery after his tour. Searching for a classified CEOI (computer electronic operating instruction), which was used to authenticate messages, under a tower at dawn?s early light. Only to find it had been chewed into a spitball and spit out the window. Seeing a man packed up and shipped out in a few hours after letting his M60 machinegun rip apart the climate controls in the roof of Tower 1. Seeing soldiers receive Article 15s for not firing warning shots. Halting an officer from a tower and being forced to lock and load and aim center mass. Running countless SAT and BAF exercises and the occasional actual ones. Finding REFORGER troops running commo line in the middle of the night in our Restricted Area. Chasing a Bundeswehr helicopter that insisted on trying to land by the bunkers. Ice coated barbwire and fences in deepest winter. Coffee so strong it hurt your teeth. Fussball in the break room. Hill Street Blues in the TV/break room. Dallas in German. Catching a few hours sleep with my boots on. Busting seals on ammo pouches and cans when a LT launched an artillery/mortar simulator. Stripping and buffing floors for the oncoming Platoon. A ring tapping FA West Pointer standing in for our LT. Signing for nuclear weapons. Flash traffic. Warsaw Pact forces jamming our radios with trash opera music. Forgetting to call the Augmentation Force at 1000 hours and watching armor and support troops deploy. Watching the perimeter and watching the perimeter. Staring into the darkness looking for movement. Responding to alarms caused by giant dog like rabbits. Talking about nothing, for long stretches of time, to great listeners. Getting trapped in the turnstile. The smell of diesel fuel from the generator or the Duce. Counting the number of steps to the top of tower one. Sweeping the site with a searchlight. Holding a busload of NFL football players at M60 point. Getting buzzed by F-16s on training bomb runs. Watching A-10 tank busters sweep up and over the tree lines again and again. The tired joy of departing the place after 24 straight. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ The one incident that made a big impact on me occurred in 1980. I had come off towers and had decided that it was too late in the early morning to try to sleep a bit. The LT came in and very seriously informed us of a failed terrorist attack on the site. He related that the terrorist vehicle had been involved in a fatal accident on the Autobahn in route to our site. Now over 20 years later the full story remains to be told. The following article, written in 1998, mentions another incident as well as a false one. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________ No Points Safe, By William M. Arkin, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists Jan/Feb 1998. No Points Safe, the New York Times tells us in its review of the Andrew and Leslie Cockburn book published last fall, begins with a little-reported January 1977 midnight raid by terrorists against an American nuclear stockpile in Germany. After a "fierce firefight," the Times says, terrorists retreated. ____________________________________________________________________ "No longer was it a question 'if' terrorists wanted to steal a nuclear weapon," the Cockburns write. "Tonight, they had actually tried to do it." ____________________________________________________________________ It's quite a story. The Cockburns say the incident was locked up so tight in Pentagon files that when they asked Zbigniew Brzezinski about it 19 years later, he was "astonished" that as national security adviser at the time he had not heard of it. ____________________________________________________________________ Well, Zbig, you can relax. Though the newspaper of record repeats the yarn without question, no doubt comforted by seeming confirmation by retired Gen. William F. Burns (then commander of the German installation), there was no attack on nuclear weapons on the night of January 4, 1977. On such fiction does the loose nukes scare persist. ____________________________________________________________________ I was a U.S. Army intelligence analyst serving in West Berlin in January 1977, intensely focused on terrorism. With hundreds of U.S. military and nuclear installations dotted throughout the German landscape, the targets were plentiful. ____________________________________________________________________ It was probably the culminating year for the Bader-Meinhof spin-off revolutionaries. There were bombings and street fighting. Who can forget the spectacular nation-hopping Lufthansa hijacking that ended in Mogadishu, or the kidnapping and murder of industrialist Hans-Martin Schleyer and banker J?rgen Ponto? There was even a plot to assassinate nato Commander Alexander Haig. ____________________________________________________________________ But as much as the U.S. Army worked overtime to stay safe, nuclear weapons, and the U.S. military for that matter, were hardly the focus. Though an incident did occur at the sprawling Giessen Army Depot when the so-called "Revolutionary Cells" placed a bomb on an unmanned fuel storage tank, the exclusion area where nuclear weapons were stored was never attacked. Indeed, there is not a shred of evidence that the Cells, who a month earlier bombed an officers' club on the Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt, knew or cared about nuclear weapons. Army historians in Washington and Europe say there is no record or recollection of a nuclear incident. ____________________________________________________________________ Looking back now, it seems pathetic that it took the United States until the mid-1980s to make major improvements in the physical security of nuclear weapons storage in Europe, in a program precipitated almost entirely by the spate of terror. A 1970s commando raid on nuclear weapons might have been just the straw to break the camel's back in German society. ____________________________________________________________________ At the time, such an incident would certainly have led to a call to remove nuclear weapons from Europe. And with that threat in mind, professionals did their jobs to insure that their weapons stayed put. ____________________________________________________________________ It wasn't until the waning days of the Cold War that the physical security of the Soviet nuclear arsenal was equally considered. But by the time the arms control community and the worry-warts of nuclear vulnerability mobilized around the problem and the United States started to deliver goods to the Russians to improve security, the period of greatest chaos had passed. Russia had a moment in history when the Soviet/Russian arsenal was most vulnerable because of the surrounding maelstrom. But that time was 1989 to 1991. ____________________________________________________________________ The missing ingredient in the worry-wart scenario is any real sense of how the 12th Main Directorate and the Russian armed services are actually doing their job of guarding nukes. Having visited ex-Soviet nuclear storage sites in East Germany and Hungary after the Cold War, I was impressed with the state of repair and the physical security measures. Since then, the arsenal has been consolidated and security heightened even more. ____________________________________________________________________ During the 1970s and 1980s the United States spent billions on security gizmos based on Hollywood-like commando scenarios. Now, under the new Cooperative Threat Reduction program with Russia, it is spending that money again. The same companies and labs are only too happy to churn out their armored blankets and secure rail cars and intrusion detection gear to protect against all foes, real or fictional. Their business is mightily aided by loose nukes ambulance chasers who use the miserable Cockburn book and their nukes-on-the loose Peacemaker movie (they wrote the screenplay) to proclaim deplorable conditions demanding immediate repair. ____________________________________________________________________ We are supposed to excuse such exaggeration because it is in the service of protecting hallowed objects. I just wonder, nevertheless, whether all the frenzy doesn't really have the effect of robbing us blind, while solidifying the perception that the threats are so great that nukes are required to protect us from all the enemies out there. William M. Arkin is an independent expert on defense matters and a Bulletin contributing editor. His latest book is The U.S. Military Online (Brassey's, 1997). ____________________________________________________________________ Another 202 Veteran, SGT Fred Manthey, recently recalled hearing about the Baader Meinhof gang accident on the Autobahn. He also mentioned seeing photos of the damaged POL tanks on Depot. A large charge had been used, but the tanks were empty. Evidently the terrorists were counting on the explosion touching off a conflagration that would damage/eliminate the site. The attack led to a less than satisfactory security review. At the time, Field Artillery personnel were guarding the site. In response, the 202nd MP Company was deployed from Fort Sheridan, Illinois to physical security duties at NATO Site 4. ____________________________________________________________________ All of the above is true, but it would not be true to say that we did not have some great times off site. Many personnel took their vacation time and traveled in Western Europe. There were Platoon passes and Platoon trips annually. When the three Platoons rotated it was possible to have 48 hours off between a 24 hour shift at the site. Of course this was tempered with preparation for the next shift, PT, motor pool, latrine cleanup, CQ, range time, survival swimming, field problems, etc. etc. But, it was the rare MP who did not have time to shop the local stores, take day trips, or frequent the nightclubs etc. It was disconcerting, however, to witness the anti-American demonstrations, the anti-nuclear demonstrations, the bombing of the local Military Intelligence building, and the housing area adjacent to Pendleton Barracks. If you have any information on any of the events discussed above, or ones to add, please let me know.

Posted by deleted account
Sep 06 2002 12:50:42:000PM

Back to Unit Page

Other Links:

© 2015 Military Advantage
A Monster Company.