When 3d Armored Division soldiers moved into the Bavarian
countryside to take part in REFORGER '90 (Return of Forces to
Germany) - exercise Centurion Shield - in a way they stepped
into an area filled with military history. The maneuver area
for this year's REFORGER has seen many battles. In just one battle
in 1704, south of the town of Donauworth, the English Duke of
Marlborough completely destroyed the Bavarian Army of 17,000
men in the Blenheim campaign of the War of the Spanish Succession.
"The REFORGER box we're playing in has been the site
of numerous military battles throughout history," said Maj.
Russell Glenn of G-3 Plex. "During the Thirty Years' War
in 1634, there was a large battle just south of Nordlingen. Then
there was Marlborough's battle in 1704 of Blenheim, and Napoleon
campaigned the area a century later."
Today, though not at war, modem armies still operate and train
in the same area on the same terrain that soldiers armed with
matchlock weapons and pikes fought over. This time, American
military armed with the latest equipment and computer technology
cross the same territory for training.
Shortly after the Christmas holidays, in early January, nearly
6,000 Spearhead soldiers deployed to participate in this year's
REFORGER - a V Corps against VII Corps exercise held just south
of Nürnberg. While 500 Spearhead soldiers became umpires
for the exercise, 1,150 soldiers from outside the division were
attached or fell under operational control of the 3d Armd Div
for the battle.
This REFORGER was quite different from the previous 21 exercises
that have been held almost annually for the past two decades.
This exercise involved fewer troops, fewer tracks, no tanks and
lots of computers. The total number of participants for
this REFORGER was 55,000 troops; compared with the 97,000 soldiers
that took part in the 1988 REFORGER, troop involvement this year
has been cut by 47 percent.
Along with troop reduction, the overall number of vehicles
involved was also decreased. Whenever possible, wheeled vehicles
were used in lieu of tracks. The division railoaded 294 tracked
vehicles and convoyed over 2,700 wheeled vehicles into the maneuver
Overall, light tracked vehicle numbers went from 7,000 in
1988 down to 2,000, and tanks were not used at all this year.
There were over 1,000 tanks on REFORGER '88.
The decrease in vehicles and troops reflect the lessons learned
from the first tested exercise of this type - CARAVAN GUARD '89.
That exercise gave way to the innovative concept of 'training
smarter' by using a combination of men, machines and computer
simulation, thereby decreasing the number of troops and vehicles
with a training focus on commanders and staffs instead of small
individual units. This REFORGER provides the most realistic training
for upper echelon commanders at a lower cost than the more traditional
approaches used in the past.
Most of the division's units participating were in a Command
Field Exercise (CFX) mode, except for the 4th Battalion, 7th
Cavalry, 533rd MI Bn, and the 143rd Sig Bn. The majority of the
division's combat support units were in a Field Training Exercise
By Sunday, January 14th, all of the division's units were
in position in the 'box.' Long Range Surveillance teams from
the 533d MI were forward behind enemy lines and the 4th Bn, 7th
CAV was conducting a final battle rehearsal on a farm near Eichstatt.
The weather was bitter cold and the sun appeared every once in
awhile between breaks in the cloudy sky.
DAY 1, Monday, January 15th, 1990:
The 3d Armored Division's mission was to occupy Forward Assembly
Areas (FAAs) NEW SCANLON and NEW COLUMBIA, then conduct a forward
passage of lines through the 11th ACR. As the V Corps' main effort,
3d Armd Div's plan was to attack and to seize Objectives HOOD
NORTH and SOUTH. The 1st Bde, 3d Armd Div and 1st Bde, 8th Inf.
Div. led the division's attack, 1st and 3rd Brigade followed
in reserve. The division's aviation assets were grounded at homestation
due to weather and most of the Close Air Support (CAS) had to
be diverted to alternative targets. By the end of the first day,
after a 'push-pull' fight for ground between the V and VII Corps
forces, Objective HOOD had not been secured.
DAY 2, Tuesday:
The battle continued with the mission for the 3d Armd Div
to attack and seize Objective HOOD. The concept of the battle
plan was for 3d Armd Div to attack with two brigades forward
and one in reserve, which would follow and assume the main attack
on order. The main effort, 4th Bn. 7th CAV was to continue to
maintain contact between the leading brigades.
The 1st Brigade, 3d Armd Div made up the main effort and headed
west toward Objective HOOD and 1st Brigade, 8th Inf Div advanced
toward the southern portion of Objective HOOD. Third Brigade
passed the llth ACR and followed the lead brigades. This gave
3d Armd Div the potential to continue to exploit a penetration
by either 1st Bde, 3d Armd Div or st Bde,. 8th Inf Div. By the
end of the day's action, Objective HOOD was close to falling
to the Spearhead attack.
DAY 3, Wednesday:
The plan of action for the 3d Armd Div was to complete the
takeover of Objective HOOD and continue attacking the enemy to
seize Objective JACKSON, which was just south of the town of
Schwäbisch Gmund. First Brigade was to conduct the main
effort attack and take Objective HOOD NORTH, while 1st Brigade,
8th Inf Div executed a supporting attack to seize the southern
part of Objective HOOD. Meanwhile, the 3d Brigade mission was
to move west to Assembly Area BIG SKY and act as a reserve as
the 4th Bn, 7th CAV screened the division's northern flank.
The battle action for the 3d Armd Div came down to a 'tug-of-war
contest' as the enemy's defenses lightened up, with neither force
getting the upper hand. The V Corps Forces fought their way into
the area, north and south on Objective HOOD but were halted by
the VII Corps. By the day's end, many of the aviation assets
had 'leap-frogged' through holes in the weather from homestation
to the maneuver box. This included 3rd Bn, 227th AVN with attack
helicopters and much of the 4th Bn, 7th Cav's air troop.
DAY 4, Thursday:
Objective HOOD fell quickly and Objective JACKSON was the
next mission for the 3d Armd Div. They remained the Corps' main
effort with the 1st Brigades leading in the division's zone and
4th Bn, 7th Cav conducting a RECON in zone and screening the
division's northern flank. This left 3rd Brigade defending Battle
Position (BP) Chicago against a VII Corps counterattack from
The battle went like this: The 1st Brigade, 8th Inf Div made
way toward Objective JACKSON EAST and 3d Armd Div's 1st Brigade
made a significant penetration into the enemy's defenses. Around
noon, the enemy started a counterattack from the south to the
northeast near the Nordlingen Bowl which continued throughout
the day. As the day closed, the skies had cleared and all of
the division's aviation assets were on station and ready for
the next day's battle.
DAY 5, Friday:
Third Armd Div made a passage of lines and secured assembly
areas on the last day of battle. The offense for 3d Armd Div
was to seize Objective JACKSON on Phase Line WOOD and continue
the fight to take over Objectives MONTANA, BEAR and TIGER to
the west. The 1st Brigade, 8th Inf Div was to make a supporting
attack in the south as 3d Armd Div's 1st Brigade attacked in
zone as the main effort. The Thundering' Third Brigade continued
to occupy its battle position. After passing through the 156th
French Armored Division, the 3d Armd Div was to prepare to occupy
its defensive sector by moving to and occupying TAAs.
The North Army Group (V Corps higher headquarters) directed
the 3d Armd Div to pass the 156th Armd Div through their lines
and they secured Assembly Areas for further offensive or defensive
operations. By this time the V Corps Forces had surpassed its
commanders' expectations by gaining much of the territory up
to Phase Line GOODWILL and in some places beyond it. The aviation
assets finally arrived during Wednesday's battle but didn't take
part in the offense until the 4th day. The 4th Bn, 7th Cav's
aircraft, mostly OH-58 Ds, were screening a mission along the
north flank; 3rd Bn, 227th Aviation supported the division's
operations with attack helicopters; while Task Force Viper used
Electronic Warfare birds for their support.
"We have gained much of the territory we expected and
in some cases we have even exceeded our expectations," said
Glenn. "Now we move into assembly area to prepare for future
offensive or defensive operations and develop a plan of action
for week two."
Fifth Corps Forces pushed from Eichstatt and went as far west
as Schwäbisch Gmund in the first week of battle in the offense.
During the offensive drive, there were several brilliant penetrations
made by the V Corps Forces during their advance.
"There were a couple of significant penetrations made
by the 3d Armd Div and 1st Brigade of 8th Inf Div soldiers. In
reality these could have been penetrations that turned into exploitations
or pursuit had we been fighting a real war. However, with reconstitution,
where the enemy comes back to life every four hours or so, he
could get back up and block us again so we couldn't accomplish
that," Glenn explained. "We did extremely well in demonstrating
the violence and shock action that would have penetrated the
enemy's lines and allowed us to exploit that penetration."
The division commander, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk, summed up
the first week experience quite well: "Lots of learning
took place. The D-Main, D-TAC and the D-Rear worked out well.
The soldiers are doing a great job."
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is based on the
first week of REFORGER. The 2nd Week will be in the February
(1990) issue. References and sources for this story include:
Maj. Russell Glenn and Capt. Dwayne Hynes, G-3 PLEX, Operation
orders; and the book "War in the Modern World" by Theodore