Army

October 4, 2013

Military Intelligence – this week in history October 4

Tags:
Ruth Quinn, Staff Historian
USAICoE Command History Office

U.S. military liaison mission ends

Mission Restricted Sign, in English, French, Russian, and German. These signs were nailed to seemingly every tree in East Germany, and consequently routinely ignored by the Allied Liaison Missions.

Oct. 3, 1990
There were never more than fourteen at one time. They were licensed spies who were uniformed members of the U.S. military but who also held Soviet credentials or passes allowing nearly unrestricted access into and within the Soviet sector of East Germany. They were backed up by another 50 “off pass” personnel – drivers, equipment recognition specialists, analysts – all of whom were hand-picked experts in their fields. All were members of the US Military Liaison Mission, or USMLM, a unique and elite joint service organization that was founded in 1947 and formalized in a bilateral agreement between the American and Soviet Chiefs of Staff. They answered only to the Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Europe. The British and French had similar agreements – and the Soviets had liaison teams of their own, who patrolled throughout the Allied sectors of West Germany.

They traveled in teams (called tours) of two: an Army or Air Force officer who was a Russian linguist and Soviet specialist, paired with a noncommissioned officer driver who was fluent in German. They traveled in a standard four-wheel drive, non-descript vehicle, and were equipped with notebooks, binoculars, night vision goggles, tape recorders, cameras, compasses, maps, rations, and personal items, but no weapons. No espionage gear or other spy paraphernalia was ever carried. These “spies” never met with agents, conducted dead drops, intercepted messages, or participated in any clandestine activities. According to Major General Roland La Joie, a former commander of the USMLM, “the tours were really nothing more than overt mobile observation platforms crisscrossing the GDR [German Democratic Republic], seeking militarily useful information. The search, of course, was not entirely random.”

Potsdam House, the headquarters of the US Military Liaison Mission in East Germany.

Tours were assigned targets based on intelligence collection requirements from national and theater intelligence agencies. The targets included Soviet or East German garrisons, temporary deployment areas, field training areas, air-ground gunnery ranges, communications sites, river crossing areas, railroad sidings, and virtually anything else of military value in the country. Newly introduced or modified military equipment, especially combat vehicles and aircraft were always at the top of the target list. By virtue of the bilateral agreement, the only locations off-limits to the USMLM were “places of disposition of military units,” so the tours had to be exceedingly careful of where they stationed themselves to observe things such as military movements or tactical exercises. Tour members duly pursued, observed, recorded, and photographed whatever they encountered.

The enemy’s capabilities were only part of the problem; the MLM was also tasked to look for indications of intent to use those capabilities. La Joie writes: “On every single day throughout the Cold War, eight or more Allied tours were roaming the countryside of East Germany. Every day, all night, each tour looking exactly for signs of imminence of hostilities.” Because of their unique and expansive access to Soviet military forces in Germany, the USMLM was included in all discussions about the Soviet threat, at both military and diplomatic levels. Their perspective from within the Soviet sector was exceptionally clear, even if incomplete.

Despite the official agreement, the Cold War had heated up over the decades, and the danger was genuine: On March 22, 1984, a member of the French Mission lost his life in a staged traffic “accident.” Almost exactly one year later, on March 24, 1985, Maj. Arthur D. Nicholson of the USMLM was shot and killed by a Soviet sentry while on a routine liaison mission. However, despite the dangers, the Missions persevered. Dutiful to the end, MLM members monitored the withdrawal of Soviet forces out of Germany and across the Polish border. They remained at their posts until the day the two sides of Germany were reunited, on Oct. 3, 1990, at which time the Military Liaison Mission declared: Mission Accomplished.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
U.S. Army IMCOM photo by Amanda S. Rodriguez

Civilian mentor program shapes Army installation management’s future

U.S. Army IMCOM photo by Amanda S. Rodriguez U.S. Army Installation Management Command mentors and mentees work on teambuilding skills, building a block tower in total silience, during the IMCOM Headquarters Centralized Mentori...
 
 
Interrogation-Station

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

U.S. Army Intelligence School opened in Langres, France July 25, 1918 Troops sift through the effects of captured Germans for items of intelligence value. “Late in July, 1918, about fifty officers gathered at the high-walled ...
 
 

ACAP has new name, now Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program

As part of the Soldier for Life Program that was introduced last year, the Army Career and Alumni Program, or ACAP, has changed names to the Soldier for Life – Transition Assistance Program, effective immediately. In an effort to better reflect the new direction of Army transition with the Soldier for Life Program, Army Chief...
 

 
Payload-Nero

Army test successful on UAV jammer payload NERO

Doug McDaniel, PM UAS View of the NERO jamming payload attached to a Gray Eagle. NERO stands for Networked Electronic Warfare Remotely Operated.
 
 
Untitled-1

Military Intelligence – Moment in MI history

Colonel Charles Young: Buffalo Soldier and Intelligence Officer Courtesy Photo As a major and then Lieutenant Colonel, Charles Young served with the 10th Cavalry during the Punitive Expedition into Mexico in 1916. This article ...
 
 
Soldier-Life-cycle

Soldier Life Cycle changes way Army preps troops for eventual transition

Maj. Rohan McLean, left, with Mission Command Battle Lab, and other class participants listen to tips from SCORE volunteer Ken Harris as he leads a session of the Army Career and Alumni Program entrepreneurial workshop, Boots t...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin