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U.S. Seventh Army

From Academic Kids

The Seventh United States Army, also known as USAREUR, is the main American force in Europe.

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History

World War II

Seventh Army was the first American formation of that size to see combat in World War II. It was formed to take command of American forces in Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily. During the campaign, it was commanded by Lieutenant General George Patton. Patton officially took command of the Seventh Army aboard USS Monrovia, Admiral Kent Hewitt's flagship, thus became the Army's motto, "Born at sea, baptized in blood." Later was added "...crowned with glory."

It landed on the left flank of the Allied forces. Its role in the plan for liberating Sicily was envisaged as being a protecting force for the left wing of the British Eighth Army under Gen. Bernard Montgomery. In the end, it played a far more important role. Most of Sicily was liberated by American forces, and Patton's men beat those of Montgomery to capturing the town of Messina, the nearest point on Sicily to the mainland of Italy.

After the Sicily operation Alexander M. Patch took command of the Seventh Army. The Seventh Army was taken out of the frontline and transferred into the 6th Army Group. Its next action was the invasion of the south of France, codenamed Operation Dragoon, on 15 August 1944. This was conceived as a help to Eisenhower's forces fighting in Normandy by flanking German forces in France. However, in the end, this was not necessary, since a breakout was achieved in Normandy before Dragoon was launched.

Dragoon was a contentious operation, because its launching severely weakened the American forces fighting in Italy, thus limiting their offensive capabilities in the final stages of that campaign. It saw a fundamental difference of strategy between the British Chiefs of Staff and the American Joint Chiefs of Staff and their respective governments. Originally called Anvil, the name was changed by Winston Churchill, who claimed to having been "dragooned" into accepting it.

It was successful as an amphibious assault. Three divisions of Seventh Army came ashore. The assault forces were followed up by more American forces and French 1st Army under Gen. Jean de Lattre de Tassigny. With French and American forces established ashore in significant numbers, Seventh Army and the French Army B came under the new 12th Army Group headquarters. The Army Group took up its position on the right wing of the forces on the western front.

Hard battles were fought in Alsace and Lorraine during the winter of 1944, in which Seventh Army played a major role. In the spring of 1945, Seventh Army crossed the Rhine River into Germany itself. Parts of the Black Forest and Bavaria were captured by Seventh Army including Hitler's Alpine residence the Berghof.

Post-1945

Seventh Army did not remain active long after WWII. Along with Third Army, it commanded the US forces of occupation until March 1946. A consolidation of forces the occurred, which saw Seventh Army inactivated, with Third Army taking over its responsibilities.

Seventh Army remained inactive until the Korean War proved to be a wake-up call to American policy-makers. As part of the buildup of forces in Germany, Seventh Army was reactivated in November 1950, based at Stuttgart. After the peace treaty with Germany was signed, it remained in the country to control the American ground forces committed to NATO.

After the erection of the Berlin Wall, units were frequently deployed to this unit, until the military strength was at an all-time high (277,342 soldiers in June of 1962). For most of the Cold War period, the forces assigned to Seventh Army consisted of roughly two army corps of soldiers, V Corps and VII Corps. Frequent exercises were held to prepare Seventh Army units for combat against Soviet forces. These included enormous Exercise REFORGER or REturn of FORces to GERmany, which practised the reinforcing of American units in Germany with those from the United States itself, a vital task had war broken out between NATO and the Warsaw Pact.

In 1961, Seventh Army was merged with USAEUR, and moved its headquarters to Heidelberg, where it remains in as of 2004.

The strains on personnel of the Vietnam War caused some soldiers from this European command to take part in that war. However, the vital mission of holding the line against the Soviets meant that only small numbers of forces from Europe could take part.

The end of the Cold War saw massive reductions of American forces in Germany. However, before these reductions could be implemented, the Gulf War intervened. Seventh Army itself did not take part, but VII Corps, one of its two constituent corps, was deployed, delivering the armoured attack that smashed Iraqi forces. VII Corps units generally did not return to Germany after the war, they moved directly back to the United States for inactivation.

V Corps was thus left as the major combat component of Seventh Army. This remained the situation throughout the 1990s, with deployments of forces to Bosnia and Kosovo punctuating the usual peacetime activities. A reorganisation in 1996 saw the reactivation of the 173rd Airborne Brigade, based in Italy, the only major change after the departure of VII Corps.

The attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001 did not directly affect Seventh Army. However, the campaign in Iraq in 2003 did. The headquarters of V Corps was deployed to Iraq, as did 173rd Airborne Brigade, and after the campaign, 1st Armored Division followed for occupation duties. With parts of 1st Infantry Division also deployed in Iraq, and others on peacekeeping duties in the Balkans, Seventh Army was virtually stripped of combat formations. The return of 173rd Brigade, V Corps and 1st Armored Division in early 2004 was followed by the deployment of the rest of 1st Infantry Division for occupation duties. Rumours were also surfacing that US forces would relocate en masse out of Germany to areas further east, both to be somewhat nearer the potential operational theatres of the future, and also to be free of high rents in Germany. These plans have not been confirmed.

Subordinate Units

Task Force Eagle (Special Forces)
Task Force Falcon (Special Forces)
Southern European Task Force
V Corps "Victory Corps"
VII Corps (Inactivated)
Army Flight Operations Detachment
Support Units
1st Personnel Command
3rd Corps Support Command
5th Signal Command
7th Army Training Command
7th Army Reserve Command
21st Theater Support Command
266th Finance Command

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