Forming the U.S. Zone Constabulary

At the end of World War II discipline within the ranks of the U.S. Army was a major problem.  A new police force was formed, the Constabulary. 
By Bud Groner

At the end of World War II, there was a need for a group to maintain the peace of Europe, and to allow the fighting men to return home as soon as possible. A new force was t be created from troops then in the American Zone and to have strength of approximately 35,000 men. This force was to be developed as a highly elite force with the highest standards of discipline, personal appearance and equipment. Its mission was to guard the some 1,700 miles of frontier surrounding the American Zone in Germany: to maintain law and order among the civilian population: and to be the Zone Military Police for the personnel of the U.S. Army. they were to develop a German police force as soon as that became practicable. The Constabulary was to become fully operational on 1 June 1946.

The five months that followed seemed an endless grueling task of organizing the staff: drawing up tables of organization and equipment; receiving, equipping and training units; providing living quarters for the various units; developing plans and methods of operation; establishing a Constabulary School, and hundreds of other items too numerous to mention here. In addition to the work of organization and training there was a matter developing an elite force of this size with high morale, standards of discipline and personnel appearance. Discipline and devotion to duty o the American Forces in Germany at that time were at a low ebb. Enlisted men were writing criticizing their officers, in the "B Bag" a column of the Stars and Stripes, with the apparent approval of the "Commander-in Chief. The American soldier was rapidly becoming a disgrace to his uniform through licentiousness and lack of discipline.

 High standards and a rigid screening process were established to select the men and officers of the U.S. Constabulary. The organization would need men of the highest caliber to deal with an army that was near out of control.

The U.S. Constabulary became operational on 1 June on schedule. They had adopted the motto "Vigilance, Mobility and Justice" and soon, all over the American Zone in Germany men, with the distinctive Constabulary uniform and vehicles with the Constabulary stripes, were in evidence. The motto of "vigilance, Mobility and Justice" was not only proclaimed but people began to see that we meant it. Our practice of fairness and justice became appreciated, particularly in a position to exercise considerable authority and supervision.

For seven years, from 1 January 1946 until early 1953, when the last unit o the 24th Constabulary Squadron was disbanded, they performed and outstanding service to our country. Looking back over the years, our most difficult task was dealing with the two and a half million American soldiers that were present in Germany when the Constabulary was first organized. From the beginning our efficient and business-like way of operation impressed the German people and we had very little difficulty with them. It always seemed to me that our main battle was with the members of the U.S. Army.

There were three great accomplishments of the U.S. Constabulary. First, we developed and maintained an elite unit, which has often and deservedly been referred to as the outstanding unit in the United States Army. They accomplished their mission in an efficient and superior manner. Secondly, by their example and devotion to duty, they reversed the downward trend of discipline and were instrumental in reviving the pride and spirit of the army stationed there. The third and perhaps the greatest contribution which only be judged by history, is that they were a significant factor in winning the peace. Undoubtedly, the service had a great effect in keeping West Germany on the side of the Allies in the cold war with the Soviet Union and her satellite states, with which we are still engaged.

It was hard work in the Constabulary. There was no short cut available to produce these lasting and fundamental results, of which the officers and men who were members are proud. The Army has been and will continue to be better for the experience and efforts as a member of this organization.