History timeline

U.S. Army Europe

Major events in USAREUR and European history

January 1942:
A precursor of the U.S. Army Europe to come, V Corps troops arrive in Northern Ireland to prepare for combat operations in Europe. It was a return to Europe for the “Victory Corps” that earned its nickname on the battlefields of France in World War I.

May 1942: Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower is officially designated Supreme Allied Commander, Europe. Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, U.S. Army (ETOUSA) is activated in England one month later.

February 1943: The Battle of Stalingrad ends with the surrender of the German 6th Army, a major turning point of the war.

July 1943: On July 4 the American Forces Network Europe provides its first broadcast to U.S. troops from BBC Studios in London. The broadcast includes five hours of recorded shows and BBC news and sports for troops in the United Kingdom. In October the 5th Army Mobile Expeditionary Radio Service begins broadcasting in Naples, Italy.

May 1944: Mussolini visits Grafenwoehr to inspect the 12,000 troops of his San Marco Division and observe their training.

June 1944: The largest invasion in history comes ashore on the beaches of Normandy, France. V Corps troops are among the first to make the assault.

November 1944: AFN administrative headquarters remains in London but its operations move to Paris. As Allied forces advance toward Germany, more than 60 AFN stations spring up along the front.

December 1944-January 1945: The Battle of the Bulge. Hitler sends a quarter of a million troops into an 85-mile stretch of the Allied front in deadly cold winter weather. More than 76,000 American soldiers are been killed, wounded or captured.

April 1945: Allied bombing levels the Grafenwoehr Training Area as it falls to troops of the U.S. Third Army. U.S. tankers enter the Hohenfels Training Area to find that German forces have pulled out, and take the camp after fighting Hungarian forces. The following month the U.S. Army occupies the area, where it will establish a tank training center two years later.

April 1945: On April 25, U.S. forces pushing east against and Soviet forces driving west meet at the German town of Torgau. The meeting is celebrated as a sure sign that the end of World War II is near.

May 1945: Victory in Europe is declared May 8. ETOUSA has 2 million troops on the continent.

July 1945: ETOUSA is redesignated as U.S. Forces, European Theater (USFET).

August 1945: Following the start-up of AFN affiliates in Munich, Bremen and Berlin in the preceding months, AFN Frankfurt signs on the air from a mobile radio studio on the back of a truck parked outside Gen. Dwight Eisenhower's Frankfurt headquarters. The city will serve as the network headquarters until it moves to Mannheim in October 2004.

December 1945: Gen. George S. Patton Jr. dies in the Army hospital in Heidelberg 12 days after his Cadillac Model 75 staff car is hit by a two-and-a-half-ton U.S. Army truck in Mannheim.

February 1946: When it becomes clear there will be no further enemy resistance in Germany, the U.S. Constabulary is activated at Bamberg, Germany to support a "police-type occupation."

June 1946: In less than a year USFET's strength had dropped to less than 290,000, with Third Army and its three infantry divisions, cavalry regiment and five separate infantry regiments, and the Constabulary with its three brigades of three cavalry regiments each.

February 1947: The Constabulary relocates to Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg.

March 1947: Third Army inactivated. USFET designated as European Command, or EUCOM (not the present-day U.S. European Command).

June 1947: U.S. Secretary of State Gen. George C. Marshall announces the Marshall Plan, a comprehensive program to help rebuild postwar Europe.

June 1947: Germany is divided into four zones, with an American zone made up of Bavaria, Hessen, Southern Germany and the northern portion of the present-day state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

June 1947: EUCOM now has fewer than 105,000 troops.

February 1948: Soviet coup in Czechoslovakia.

February to June 1948: The Constabulary moves from Heidelberg to Stuttgart and EUCOM moves from Frankfurt to Heidelberg.

April 1948: A brutal coup supported by the Soviet Union imposes a communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

June 1948: The Soviet Union attempts to control all of Berlin by cutting surface traffic to or from the Allied zones. U.S. and British forces respond with the Berlin Airlift, code-named "Operation Vittles," flying food, fuel and other supplies to the population of Berlin from airfields at Wiesbaden and Rhein-Main. The Soviets lift the blockade in May 1949, though airlift missions continue until September.

April 1949: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization -- NATO – is born. Charter members include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States.

May 1949: Formed from the three western zones of occupation and West Berlin, West Germany -- the Federal Republic of Germany -- separates from the Soviet sphere of influence and establishes its capital at Bonn.

July 1949: The Soviets detonate their first nuclear weapon.

October 1949: The East German Democratic Republic, or GDR, is formed and claims Berlin as its capital.

December 1949: EUCOM troop numbers continue to drop as a result of the peaceful occupation, reaching 83,400.

May 1950: Gen. Dwight Eisenhower visits the Grafenwoehr Training Area in his final weeks as NATO commander, and then returns to the U.S. a month later to campaign for the presidency.

November 1950: With the threat of communism apparent from events in the Soviet Union, China and the Korean peninsula, a defense force for Europe was needed. Headquarters Seventh Army is created from the Constabulary headquarters at Stuttgart.

November 1950: France permits establishment of U.S. lines of communication from western France to Germany.

November 1950: Seventh Army, inactivated three years earlier, is reactivated.

June to October 1951: V and VII Corps headquarters arrive in Europe and are assigned to Seventh Army. Over the next year one armor and three infantry divisions are deployed from the U.S. and assigned to the corps.

October 1951: After serving as a postwar camp for refugees and people expelled from Soviet-held German territory, the U.S. Army reopens expanded facilities at Hohenfels for military training.

August 1952: The U.S. European Command (USEUCOM) is established at Frankfurt. EUCOM is renamed U.S. Army, Europe (USAREUR). By year's end the buildup of U.S. forces reaches 252,000.

July 1956: West Germany activates the Bundeswehr -- the German armed forces -- and introduces conscription. A month later the first Bundeswehr soldiers are billeted at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.

October 1956: The Soviet Union invades Hungary and occupies Budapest, crushing Hungary’s rebellious decision to withdraw from the Warsaw Pact.

1958-1959: Grafenwoehr becomes headquarters of the Seventh Army Training Center, incorporating the Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels Training Areas to become the largest training complex in Germany.

October 1958: The "King of Rock and Roll," Elvis Presley, arrives in Germany to begin his two years of Army service. In Germany the King is stationed at Ray Barracks in Friedberg as a member of the Scout platoon of Headquarters, 32nd Armor Regiment, 3rd Armored Division.

August 1961: A wall is erected in Berlin, isolating the Soviet sector of the city from the other allied powers. The city now defines East and West.

October 1961: Soviet and U.S. tanks engage in a tense showdown at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin.

June 1962: Downsizing of USAREUR halts as a result of the building of the Berlin Wall. Less than a year after Berlin is divided USAREUR reaches its peak strength of 277,000.

October 1962: President John F. Kennedy speaks to the world about the Cuban missile crisis. U.S. and NATO forces in Europe go on high alert.

June 1963: President John F. Kennedy visits Berlin just 22 months after East Germany builds the Berlin Wall, reassuring Berliners that America stood with them in his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

December 1966: Seventh Army headquarters merges with USAREUR headquarters to form USAREUR and Seventh Army.

December 1966: French President Charles DeGaulle removes all French armed forces from NATO's integrated military command. All non-French NATO troops are asked to leave France.

August 1968: Approximately 200,000 Warsaw Pact troops led by the Soviet Union invade Czechoslovakia a second time to stop political reform and solidify the Kremlin's hold on the country's government.

January 1969: The largest NATO exercise to take place in Europe -- the Return of Forces to Germany, or REFORGER, is conducted at Grafenwoehr.  A large-scale force deployment designed to show that America remained committed to NATO in spite of planned U.S. troop withdrawals from Europe, REFORGER became an Army icon that, with one exception (in 1989), continued yearly until 1993.

April 1972: V Corps headquarters and the Terrace Club in Frankfurt, Germany are bombed by members of the Red Army Faction terrorist group. American servicemembers and U.S. military facilities across the European theater will continue to be attacked throughout the decade and the two decades that follow.

May 1972: Three pipe bombs planted by terrorists explode at V Corps headquarters in Frankfurt, killing a highly decorated Vietnam veteran and wounding 13 others.

May 1972: Red Army Faction terrorists drive two cars with stolen license plates onto Campbell Barracks in Heidelberg and set off 50-pound bombs in the vehicles, killing three troops and wounding five others.

1975: Grafenwoehr becomes the headquarters for the Seventh U.S. Army Training Center, which becomes the Seventh Army Training Command the following year.

January 1977: Red Army Faction terrorists bomb a barracks belonging to the 42nd Artillery Brigade at Giessen. Several RAF members are killed in the ensuing firefight.

June 1979: Gen. Alexander Haig, then NATO's Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, survives an assassination attempt in Mons, Belgium when his car narrowly misses being blown up by a mine placed on a bridge. Three members of his security detail following in a separate car are injured.

1981-1984: The U.S. Army renovates and enlarges Rose Barracks in Vilseck, at the southern tip of the Grafenwoehr Training Area, at a cost of more than $1 billion.

August 1981: A car bomb explodes in a parking lot at Ramstein Air Base.

September 1981: USAREUR commander Gen. Frederick J. Kroesen and his wife are attacked by terrorists while en route to their dentist in Heidelberg. They escape with minor injuries because the Soviet-made RPG-7 rocket-propelled grenade fired at them passes through their Mercedes but does not detonate.

1984-1985: The first M1A1 Abrams tanks arrive for trials at Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels.

December 1984: A 25-kilogram bomb is found in a car at the NATO school in Oberammergau, Germany. The bomb is defused before it can detonate.

August 1985: Red Army Faction terrorist Birgit Hogefeld lures Spc. Edward Pimental out of a Wiesbaden night club. He is shot to death for his ID card, which RAF members use to enter Rhein-Main Air Base the next day to plant a bomb that kills a U.S. airman and a U.S. civilian employee and wounds 23 others.

1986: The Combat Maneuver Training Complex is created at Hohenfels Training Area.

April 1986: Two Soldiers are killed and 79 servicemembers injured by a bomb at a Berlin night club.

November 1989: The Berlin Wall falls, and allowing free travel between East and West Germany for the first time since 1961, and leading to the formal reunification of Germany the following October.

January 1990: Communist governments fall in Bulgaria, Romania, Czechoslovakia and Romania. Latvia and Estonia declare their independence five months later.

March 1990: Elements of K Troop, 3rd Squadron, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment make their final patrol of the border between East and West Germany at Observation Point Alpha. The U.S. Constabulary and the 11th and 14th ACRs had manned Point Alpha since the rise of the Berlin Wall in 1961, posted eye-to-eye with East German forces as they kept watch for signs of communist invasion through the Fulda Gap.

August 1990: Iraq invades Kuwait, setting Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in motion.

October 1990: Reunification of Germany.

November 1990: VII Corps (Forward), consisting of the 1st and 3rd Armored Divisions and 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, begins deploying to Southwest Asia, where it plays a key role in the “100 Hours War” that liberated Kuwait in February 1991.

June 1991: Yugoslavia begins to break apart as Slovenia and Croatia separate and Serbia and Macedonia unite into a new Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The region descends into brutal ethnic war.

December 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev announces the breakup of the Soviet Union and resigns as its president.

December 1991-December 1994: Continued downsizing brought USAREUR to just over 143,000 troops by December 1991, to 77,000 by 1993, and to 60,545 by December 1994.

1992-2000: USAREUR undertakes a major reduction of forces and facilities in Germany that closes many American bases and returns many troops to the U.S.

April 1992: VII Corps is inactivated as a result of reductions started after the corps' return to Germany from the Gulf War.

November 1993: The Maastricht Treaty takes effect, creating the European Union. Since its creation the EU has grown from six to 27 nations.

June 1994: USAREUR's Wildflecken Training Area closes, making Hohenfels and Grafenwoehr the focal point for U.S. Army training in Europe.

August 1994: The Berlin Brigade departs.

October 1994: Exercise Atlantic Resolve 94, the U.S. Army's largest most technologically complex joint and combined computer-assisted training exercise to date, replaces the annual REFORGER exercises.

December 1995: The Dayton Accords put an end to the ethnic war in the Balkans.

December 1995: Task Force Eagle deploys to Bosnia. It makes its entrance from Croatia across the Sava River bridge, a 620-meter span built USAREUR engineer units that was the longest assault float bridge in military history. Some 20,000 vehicles would cross the bridge before it was disassembled in April 1996. USAREUR remained engaged with TF Eagle until the mission passed to the EU in November 2004.

December 1995: NATO's Implementation Force (IFOR) is formed and takes over what had been the UN's job of peacekeeping in the Balkans.

February 1999: U.S. Army Europe’s hardy UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters become the star of rescue efforts in Galtur, Austria after an avalanche buries the ski resort and kills 31 people.

March 1999: NATO begins combat operations against Serbia as Operation Allied Force. USAREUR deploys Task Force Hawk to Albania to support the operation.

June 1999: NATO deploys the Kosovo Force (KFOR) to promote stability in the province. USAREUR’s Task Force Falcon deploys as the main element of KFOR's Multinational Brigade (East).

September 2001: Islamic fundamentalists hijack U.S. commercial jets and crash them into the Pentagon in Washington D.C., the World Trade Center in New York, and a field in Pennsylvania. Thousands die in the worst tragedy on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor.

October 2001: The U.S. begins Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11. USAREUR units deploy continuously in support of OEF in the ensuing years.

January 2002: Europe gets a new currency. On January 1 the euro becomes the unit of exchange for most countries of the European Union. The changeover from several national currencies to a single EU currency is the largest changing of money in world history.

September 2002: German police arrest an al-Qaida sympathizer and his American fiancee suspected of planning to bomb U.S. bases in Heidelberg on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. About 290 pounds of chemicals and five pipe bombs are found in the couple's apartment.

March 2003: Operation Iraqi Freedom begins as U.S. Army and Marine Corps units under V Corps command attack from Kuwait into Iraq. USAREUR’s 173rd Airborne Brigade jumps into Iraq in the largest combat airdrop since World War II.

April 2003: Baghdad is captured just 16 days after Operation Iraqi Freedom begins. 1st Armored Division deploys to Iraq for what would become a 15-month combat tour, followed in January 2004 by the 1st Infantry Division’s Task Force Danger.

September 2003: USAREUR announces Efficient Basing Grafenwoehr, a nearly $1 billion program expected to be complete in 2012. The nearly $1 billion effort, designed to consolidate a command and control headquarters and six battalion-sized elements on the Grafenwoehr Training Area's east camp, incorporates more than 80 projects that include construction and renovation of operational facilities, motor pools, barracks, schools, 835 build-to-lease housing units, chapels, child development and youth services facilities and other community support facilities.

December 2003: U.S. forces under V Corps command and control capture Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in the town of ad-Dawr, near Tikrit, Iraq.

November 2004: The Task Force Eagle mission is transferred to the European Union.

2005: Grafenwoehr becomes the command element for the Joint Multinational Training Command, incorporating The Grafenwoehr Training Area, the Combat Maneuver Training Center in Hohenfels (which became the Joint Multinational Readiness Center that year), the Combined Arms Training Center in Vilseck and the Training Support Activity, Europe.

September 2005: The last military passenger and cargo flights leave Rhein-Main Air Base in Frankfurt. The base officially closes October 10.

October 2005: USAREUR units supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan rush to join aid efforts in Pakistan following a devastating earthquake centered in the Kashmir region. While the quake is felt in several neighboring countries, by November the death toll in Pakistan alone reaches 75,000.

July 2006: After decades in Europe, the 1st Infantry Division cases its colors at Leighton Barracks in Wuerzburg, Germany and reconstitutes at Fort Riley, Kansas.

2006: While continuing to support combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, USAREUR begins its most comprehensive transformation since the end of World War II.

April 2006: Approximately 3,500 Soldiers of the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment move from the U.S. to Rose Barracks in Vilseck, doubling the local population.

June 2007: A "proof of principle" exercise at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Constanta, Romania helps to establish Joint Task Force East (later Task Force East), a major USAREUR-led theater security cooperation effort that uses training facilities in Romania and Bulgaria to strengthen relationships between U.S. forces and their Eastern European allies.

September 2007: Grafenwoehr gets the OK for a series of range improvements, including an urban assault course, a 360-degree live-fire "shoot house," an urban breach facility, and completion of the training area's live-fire assault building.

April 2008: A major step forward in USAREUR transformation is heralded by an Army Corps of Engineers Europe announcement of $500 million in military construction projects to prepare Wiesbaden Army Airfield for the moves of the V Corps and USAREUR headquarters from Heidelberg, which is slated to close. Projects announced for Wiesbaden include a network warfare center, a consolidated intelligence center, a headquarters facility and a $133 million housing project.

 November 2008: The Joint Multinational Simulation Center opens a state-of-the-art 50,000-square-foot facility in Grafenwoehr for digital models, simulations and virtual training.

March 2009: After a 43-year absence, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announces that France will once again become a full-fledged member of NATO.

December 2009: A groundbreaking ceremony marks the official start of construction on the Wiesbaden Army Family Housing Community. The project includes up to 300 family housing units, playgrounds, picnic areas with grills, a sports field, a running and biking path and community plazas, and is expected to be complete by spring 2012.

June 2010: USAREUR officially announces a timetable for "the last significant events in the transformation process started in 2003" -- the moves of its headquarters, the V Corps headquarters and the Installation Management Command-Europe headquarters from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden. V Corps begins moving in 2011, while USAREUR and IMCOM-E expect to start a two-year move process in 2012.

May 2011: After three decades in Germany, 1st Armored Division cases its colors at Wiesbaden Army Airfield and completes its move to Fort Bliss, Texas.