From 1979 to 1982, I was a Russian linguist stationed in Frankfurt, West Germany, with the 533rd Combat Electronic Warfare Intelligence (CEWI) Battalion, part of the 3rd Armored Division. If a war had come, assuming we hadn’t been nuked right away, we would have deployed within hours northeast to the Fulda Gap to listen to Soviet army troop movements, triangulate their positions, and report the information to our commanding general.
We often conducted maneuvers in the same area, fighting mock battles against other American forces, especially in the fall Reforger “field problem.” Although tanks did the most damage to the farms and roads, 533rd CEWI’s trucks and jeeps ripped up enough property on their own, especially when it rained and the mud common to Northern Europe began flowing like rivers. Any damage was paid for by the U.S. taxpayers.
I talked often with locals, many of whom spoke English. In the large cities, such as Frankfurt, they didn’t much like Americans being there. A lot of the hostility was endemic leftism. Frankfurt is Germany’s banking center, but it also produced the infamous Frankfurt School of cultural Marxism.
“Don’t you hate the lack of freedom?” they sometimes asked me.
“Well, I volunteered,” I’d respond. “It’s only for four years. I still have my American freedoms. ...