Remembered: The Army That Was

Unlike the Biden* regime’s military, during the Cold War the U.S. Army was a serious endeavor focused on combat readiness. For example; fighting house-to-house in urban areas is one of the most dangerous and difficult of military operations. Consequently, US. Army, Europe, set up several “combat-in-cities” ranges consisting of mock buildings and homes that must be cleared of enemy troops while trying to spare the lives of any civilians or hostages held inside. TV and movie viewers may be familiar with scenes of infantry squads in a “stack” outside a doorway. The squad leader tosses in a flash-bang grenade and the squad members split left and right as they charge through the doorway, engaging stunned occupants.

But only our best infantry companies were sent to the show-case combat-in-cities range in West Berlin which was constructed right up alongside the Berlin Wall. Our Bravo Company was selected to make the over-night train trip from West Germany across East Germany and into West Berlin. It was a great adventure to be on a sealed train hurtling through the night across otherwise forbidden ground. A battalion commander’s perk was that Wonder Wife could go with me.

The Berlin Brigade, which always enjoyed the highest priority for everything, provided some very fine barracks and mess hall facilities for Bravo Company. Wonder Wife and I enjoyed VIP quarters. The next day, Bravo Company enjoyed a relaxing tour of West Berlin before the next day’s serious business of impressing the Russian troops and East German border guards (Vopos) with American professionalism.

Although we did not know it at the time, the commander of Bravo Company would go on in his Army career to be the Deputy Commander of Delta Force. So, you can imagine how well he had Bravo Company trained back then. Later on, Delta Force constructed some “shoot houses” at Ft. Bragg, NC, that are considered the crème de la crème of hostage-rescue training facilities.

And so the day dawned when Bravo Company would attack West Berlin’s combat-in-cities range. Wonder Wife and a crowd of Allied officers and their also stylish wives occupied an observation post overlooking the combat-in-cities range. Bunches of Red Army troops and Vopos lined up like a murder of crows atop the Berlin Wall, gazing down through the razor wire.

Inside each room were pop-up targets. Some targets were enemy soldiers. Some targets were innocent civilians or hostages. Our soldiers had to make split-second decisions as to which targets to engage and which targets to ignore. And, as a serious military does things, the entire operation would be timed and the targets carefully scored for paint-ball hits and misses. No mere “participation” awards.

We received special permission for Bravo Company to conclude the exercise with a surprise live-fire blast, using the base of the Berlin Wall as a bullet backstop. Bravo Company meticulously cleared each house and building in what turned out to be record time. When Bravo Company poured a five-second,, live-fire machine gun blast on the base of the Berlin Wall, dozens of Russians and Vopos tumbled Humpty-Dumpty like off the Wall and others fled in panic. The Allied officers and their wives erupted in laughter. Those were the days…

*Election disputed.

Suggested reading: FM 90-10-1 Infantryman’s Guide to Combat in Urban Terrain.

©2023. William Hamilton. All rights reserved.

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