Ayers Kaserne - Mission Accomplished

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Stationed in the rolling countryside of Bum-Fuck-Hessen, Germany, Ayers Kaserne was, until 1992, home to one of the single most powerful units in United States Army, Europe, "USAEUR" (Pronounced Use-Uh-Ruh): The 1st Brigade of the 3rd Armored Division. At its peak strength, there were approx. 6,000 soldiers there that comprised two Armor battalions (2/32 and 2/33, later replaced by 4/32), two Infantry battalions (2/36 and 3/36), one Field Artillery battalion (2/3, the one I was in), as well as other support units like air defense, logistics, medical, fucking Military Police (To this day, I hate fucking MP's), etc.

 

 

 Ayers Kaserne, Kirch-Goens, West Germany, 1985

 

After fighting with great distinction during WW2, earning the nickname “Spearhead”, the 3rd Armored Division spent most of the Cold War stationed in West Germany. The 3rd’s most famous soldier is without a doubt one Elvis Aaron Presley, who was assigned to 1/32 Armor in Friedberg from 1958 to 1960. By all accounts, Elvis was a good soldier (as Southerners usually are). It’s been said that Elvis was introduced to drugs, specifically amphetamines, while in the Army. In the photo on the left, Elvis looks almost as high as he was when he took that infamous picture with Tricky Dick Nixon in 1970. Knowing how the military absolutely HATES that thing called “sleep”, I have no reason to doubt the story.

 

 

 Elvis Presley: A normal, average, red-blooded, red-eyed, higher-than-a-kite All-American GI.

 

 

After participating in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, the 3rd AD returned to Germany to resume its Cold War mission. The collapse of Communism in Eastern Europe and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact changed everything however, and U.S. forces in Europe were rapidly drawn down. The 3rd AD was deactivated in 1992 and its various component units were transferred or also deactivated. Practically overnight, what was once a place that was bustling and hustling 24/7/365 became a virtual ghost town.

 

After being open way longer than it should have, probably because the German government wanted to keep their local nationals employed for as long as possible, Ayers Kaserne was eventually closed and returned to the Germans. After being semi-abandoned for several years, Ayers Kaserne was literally leveled and bulldozed to the ground, becoming the headquarters for a large trucking company. The transition made sense, as that company was right down the street, and the large military-grade motor pools, constructed to hold the weight of tanks and other heavy tracked and wheeled vehicles, suited itself well for large trucks.

 

The former Ayers Kaserne, Kirch-Goens, (Unified) Germany, 2017

 

When an old buddy told me that Ayers Kaserne was demolished, I was momentarily saddened; Army life isn’t easy, but I also had a lot of good times and good memories of my service there, and of the surprisingly large number of women who gave me access to them. However, I also quickly realized that Ayers Kaserne had fulfilled its mission, and was glad to see “a sword turned into a ploughshare”, although large trucks and the assholes that drive them are among my least favorite things in the world. I still firmly believe that NATO should have been dissolved within hours of the Warsaw Pact doing the same, but that's another story.

Comments

Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Nov 2, 2017 - 10:35pm
Interesting slice of history Micheal. Thanks for sharing it. And I completely agree with your last sentence, as I'm sure you already know. 
Michael B. Added Nov 2, 2017 - 11:04pm
Thanks Lady! It was an interesting time, for sure! And that's something that has always bothered me..."Why does NATO continue to not only exist, but EXPAND!" Probably one of the few topics that you, a certain Swiss gentleman, and I can agree upon, lol.
Ari Silverstein Added Nov 3, 2017 - 8:45am
Just because Ayers Kaserne was closed doesn’t mean the mission was accomplished.  We still have bases in Germany and we’re still a member of NATO. 
Even A Broken Clock Added Nov 3, 2017 - 10:31am
Thanks for this history and personal anecdotes. I appreciate this. Wonder how many other bases in other countries could be closed without significantly affecting our mission. Of course, it would be another thing altogether to determine what our countries military mission should be, a discussion we do not seem to be having yet. Ari is right that we are parts of many military alliances and have responsibilities.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 3, 2017 - 10:38am
Thank you for your article and more so for serving in defence of the free world!
Three notes first:
1)There is only a very weak link between Elvis and the Ayers Kaserne.
2)NATO is a racket. You are 100% correct.
3)Glad you enjoyed the girls.
Benjamin Goldstein Added Nov 3, 2017 - 10:56am
I have a question which maybe better answered in a standalone article rather than here in the comments (you'll see). You mention in the Elvis section that Southerners are usually good soldiers. I have heard ths many times. My question is if you as a military man have a theory why that is.
 
When I did research for my article on whether MMA is a sign of a healthy society I found that Southerners were duelling one another long after the practice had fallen out of favor in other regions of the states. As I explain in the piece, duelling is stupid and forced men bound by a questionable honor code to kill each other. I wonder, however, if the practice was more accepted in the South because they were less into shaming the peaceful and better at cheering the fighters. Regardless of the motives (let's ignore the controversy for now) the Confederates fought extremely brave against a militarily superior opponent. The flag is still honored by many as a symbol of bravery. Then there are family values. Family members are on good terms with one another and many will have a servicemen in the extended family who is respected. George Kocan had an underrated (*cough* go and 'like') article on the role of American Football in instilling risk-taking values. American Football is most popular in the South (followed by the Mid West). They are the area most successful in military recruitment.
 
Would be interesting if you had additional theories and information.
Jeff Jackson Added Nov 3, 2017 - 12:16pm
Nice history lesson. I believe that the original plan was to stop the Fulda Gap scenario, where Soviet tanks (they made them by the millions) were to be stopped by U.S. armor at the Fulda Gap in Germany. Then, in the early 1990s some of the more deadly anti-tank missiles were developed, and all they needed was an attack helicopter (AH-64 or such) and some Hellfire missiles and they didn't need to approach the problem with armor, just helicopters and missiles. I could be wrong on that, my memory on such things gets crowded out. 
Michael B. Added Nov 3, 2017 - 9:14pm
@ Ari - No, the mission WAS accomplished with the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact. We no longer have any significant combat forces in Germany. At peak strength, there were approx. 350,000 troops and about the same amount of dependents, DoD civilans, etc. It is now a small fraction of that. The vast majority of the bases wound up like Ayers Kaserne, either repurposed and/or completely demolished.
Michael B. Added Nov 3, 2017 - 9:22pm
@ Broken Clock - Thanks, I enjoyed writing this! As far as bases go, what the U.S. does often is to pre-position vehicles and equipment in the host (or occupied, heh heh) country, so if mobilization occurs, they simply fly the troops in, who then man the vehicles and/or equipment, or whatever their MOS is (MOS, Military Occupational Specialty...essentially, their "job"). It solves a lot of the problems attendant to maintaining a garrison.
Michael B. Added Nov 3, 2017 - 9:27pm
@ Benjamin G - Thank you, sir! To address your points:
 
1. I know! I threw that in there to make it more interesting. Somehow I felt that readers would rather hear about Elvis than me recounting the time I got a thermonuclear blow job while on CQ duty, lol.
 
2. Agreed. I'm still trying to come up with an alternate definition for what NATO means...the best I have so far is, "Now Armies, Take Off!", but I know I can do better!
 
3. Thoroughly! American girls are far more kinky than their German counterparts though, lol.
Michael B. Added Nov 3, 2017 - 9:33pm
@ Benjamin G again - The South has ALWAYS had a strong military tradition pretty much from the get-go. As far as the "root cause" goes, I have no idea, but it is a very good question.
Michael B. Added Nov 3, 2017 - 9:44pm
@ Jeff J. - Thanks Jeff! You are more-or-less correct. NATO wasn't depending on an elastic defense (trading ground for time), and the Fulda Gap was the place the big, decisive battle was expected to take place. One time we went to our actual wartime position (Just the officers, certain NCO's, and vehicle drivers), dressed in civilian clothes and on a civilian bus, as if we were fooling anybody. I asked our Battery Commander ("BC") how long we'd last, and he said somewhere between 3 hours and 3 days. In addition to considerable conventional firepower, we also had nukes; I forgot the designations, but the 155mm and 8-inch howitzers both had 3-5 kiloton "neutron bombs", which were to be fired at the concentrations of tanks and other armored vehicles, of which they had a huge numerical superiority. Personally, I don't see how a war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact would NOT have gone nuclear; the Soviets also had plans, one of which involved 40 tactical nuclear warheads used against the city of Hamburg alone.
John Minehan Added Nov 4, 2017 - 8:24am
I was there three times three times to do Lateral Transfers (once with C/2-27 FA and twice with HHB, DivArty) and once for a DivArty Commander's Conference . . . when one of the Gate Guards committed suicide).
 
Most Kaserne were old German military barracks.  I always thought Ayers was built by the US.  The thing was in the middle of nowhere, up past Friedberg, on the way to Giessen.  It was just . . . sitting on a sort of big, grassy field on a hill top. 
 
The facilities were new.  But I always thought the Soldiers must have been a bit . . . isolated.  It wasn't like Friedberg or Hanau, where the Post was in a German City; there wasn't much around it.  I'm not sure a good AAFES Burger Bar would make up for that.
 
I had the idea it was a place where the Troops looked forward to Graf and HTA Rotations.
 
       
Michael B. Added Nov 4, 2017 - 12:43pm
John M, I was hoping to hear from you! Yes, we were there at roughly the same time. I remember that tanker's suicide, and a female cook that was murdered by another tanker. CID actually had us walk a few miles of road looking for the knife.
 
Yes, a lot of them were, and some have reverted to Bundeswehr use. Most dated from the Nazi period, although some are from the Imperial period and even before, although I can't name them off hand.
 
Yes, Ayers was pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but as long as you had wheels, it wasn't a big deal. It seemed to have had its very own micro-climate, usually raining while the surrounding areas were bright and sunny, lol.
 
And no, I don't recall anyone looking forward to Graf or anywhere else, especially in the winter, lol. In Feb. '87, the whole brigade went to HTA, and by incredible good luck, I stayed behind for guard duty; I think it was two different shifts of two hours each, and off all others. No formations, no nothing. I was at the back gate the morning they were due back, and one low-boy after another had several smashed and mangled vehicles, all from 2/3 FA. "Holy FUCK!", thought I. Nobody got seriously injured though, but practically every vehicle that went there did not return unscathed.
John Minehan Added Nov 4, 2017 - 12:54pm
HTA was VERY hard on vehicles.
 
I have an end-connector from an M-88, which is covered with HTA mud, dried to the hardness of stone.  When 3-32 AR were breaking track, this end connector just fell apart.  I never saw anything like that.
John Minehan Added Nov 4, 2017 - 1:00pm
Francois Kaserne in Hanau was Imperial, it was a Cavalry Barracks built in around 1907.  1-40th FA (later A/40th and 2-20 FA) were on that Post.   
Michael B. Added Nov 5, 2017 - 1:54pm
John, as far as I know, Ayers was purpose-built for the U.S. Army, but the majority of the others seem to be former Wehrmacht installations. I still vividly remember the large eagle with the sanded-down swastika on a corner of the schloss at Schloss Kaserne in Butzbach. Giessen Depot was a Luftwaffe base, and both Ray Barracks and Pendleton Barracks in Giessen were former Heer installations. There's an excellent website called Third Reich in Ruins that shows many Nazi-era structures in a "then and now" format, and many former and current military structures and bases are shown:
 
http://thirdreichruins.com/
 
I gotta hand it to the person and/or persons who put it together!