83d Recon Battalion – Cold War

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83d Recon Battalion (Cold War)
(Divisional Cavalry) 
(Armstrong Barracks, Büdingen, Germany)


   At the time DA made the decision to activate the 3AD as a TO&E division, all basic training in the Army was conducted by "Training Divisions." These training divisions carried the colors and awards of their wartime units. At Fort Knox, basic training was conducted by the 3d Armored Division (Training). The decision was made at DA to activate the 3d AD as a TO&E division and replace the 4th Infantry Division in Germany with the new division. The general plan was for the 3d to complete it's current training cycle of recruits, send them off to their programmed units, then re-activate the division, cadre the officer and NCO requirements, fill the ranks with draftees and volunteers, train them at basic and unit level, conduct field exercises from squad level up, culminating in a division wide field exercise and ship to Germany. Sounds simple, what?

   The Armored School staff and faculty was especially hard hit to cadre the new division. LTC Girard, CPT Basham, CPT Bielieki and myself are a few names that come to mind who were all assigned to TAS at the time. There may be others. Qualified "Training Division" personnel were also re-assigned to the new division. CPT Sharp comes to mind in this case. 

   The organization of the "new" 83d was derived from the Armored Cavalry Regiments and Squadrons of the "Constabulary Forces." I had previously spent two or three years in the 4th Recon Squadron in Austria. The 14th AC Regiment and its sister units were organized basically along the same lines. Generally speaking, the recon units were find, fix and warn outfits. Find the enemy, fix him in place, warn your major unit and pray loudly help arrives quickly. 

   The Battalion/Squadron was a five unit organization. A H&S Company and four line companies comprised of the subordinate units. Each line company (A, B, C, and D) consisted of four platoons (Hq, 1st, 2d, and 3d,). Each line platoon consisted of a Scout Section (two squads of two jeeps each, one jeep mounting a .30 cal MG), Tank section (consisting of two M41 light tanks), Rifle Squad (mounted in APC) and Support Squad (two jeeps and one 81mm Mortar). H&S Company consisted of the usual Maintainance, Personnel, Commo, Medical, and other support elements. 

   WWII introduced massed armored attacks, replacing the massed infantry attacks of WWI. But massed armored attacks had problems. In the early days, they invariably outran artillery support. Close terrain made the tanks vulnerable to entrenched infantry. To cope with these problems (very briefly and basically her stated) the "Combined Arms Team" concept evolved. All elements were to be mobile and, where feasible, armored and to consist of a mix of Armor, Infantry, and Artillery units. It worked and the Armored Division, basically as we know it was born,. To be a combined arms commander conjures up visions of Patton or Rommell, but actually, every Recon Platoon leader was commander of the smallest combined arms team in the US Army, think about it. 


The above information was provided by Curt Willett, a veteran of the 83d Recon Battalion. 


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