Wednesday, September 28, 2011

CFSRSHQ Det Augsburg

CFSRSHQ Det Augsburg began operations on 5 Jun 89 when Maj JE Hueglin and MCpl RM Woodhouse opened an Orderly Room at United States Army Field Station Augsburg, Germany, in office space shared with Mr WC Palen of CSE. It will cease operations during the summer of 1993 when CP02 GW Green closes the office door and departs for Canada.
The short history of the unit is the consequence of unforeseen, rapidly changing international events; coupled with the requirement to reduce government spending.
The international events saw, among other things, the reunification of Germany; the democratization of Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary; and the disintegration of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republic. These events, in turn, offered government agencies, in the USA and Canada, opportunities to cut costs by reducing or eliminating European based military capabilities.
While the closure of the unit in the interest of monetary savings is regretted, the fact that it had any history at all is testimony to the success which can be achieved when like minded people and organizations work together in pursuit of a common goal.
The unit, which was established to assist in providing a service of signals intelligence in support of Canada's foreign and defence policies, was first considered during 1987. This visionary event coincided with the visit to Field Station Augsburg of Col NW Van Loan, the Comd CFSRS, and Mr NP Griffith, the Director General Production at CSE. Rumour has it that the effects of drinking German white wine and staying at a Swiss chalet contributed to the occasion.
By Jun 88, a Statement of Requirement (Preliminary) (SOR(P)) had been written and distributed to DGCEO for staffing within NDHQ. By 1 Feb 89 the SOR(P) had been approved at a special Program Change Board meeting. By 31 Mar 89 the Establishment Change Proposal had been approved and Col Van Loan had announced, by message (COMDSRS 254 of 131530Z Apr 89), that the unit had become a reality.
Throughout this period, simultaneous negotiations had been ongoing with Canadian Forces Europe, CFB Lahr, and American entities such as the National Security Agency, the US Army Intelligence and Security Command, United States Army Europe, Field Station Augsburg, and the US Army Community Augsburg.
These negotiations required trips to Lahr and Augsburg Germany, and Washington DC, to discuss the employment of personnel and the provision of a wide range of support such as banking, recreational, and educational facilities; postal, medical, and dental services; access to the post exchange and commissary; vehicle registration and driver's licences; opportunities for civilian employment; quarters and furnishings; ID and ration cards and, last but not least, combat clothing, weapons and ammunition.
By 19 Jul 89, all members of the first contingent of 13 personnel and families, including CP02 BL Cameron, the first Det Sgt Maj, had arrived in Augsburg. Their arrival marked the completion of a major milestone in a project which would see Communicator Research personnel, and their families, working and living in close cooperation with their American Navy, Army and Air force; and British Army counterparts at Field Station Augsburg and within the Augsburg Military Community.
The personnel assigned to the unit staged through Lahr in order to 'clear in' through CFB Lahr, obtain their CFE driver's licence (probably the most dreaded experience of all), insure and licence their automobiles (probably the most expensive experience of all) and, in most cases, experience their first taste of Germany.
Upon arrival in Augsburg, single personnel moved into quarters provided by the US Forces, while married personnel stayed in a local hotel until they secured quarters or accommodation on the economy. Within days of arriving, all personnel were given the opportunity to participate in a US sponsored course designed to acquaint newcomers with the local civilian and military community, and basic conversational German.
During their first year, although they encountered a multitude of minor problems, the experience of living and working in Germany was rewarding.
Augsburg, with a population of some 250,000, and a history which stretches back 2000 years to the days of Caesar Augustus, had much to offer in the way of shopping, entertainment and recreation. In addition the city was an ideal base from which to explore major attractions such as Munich, Berchtesgaden, Garmish, Chiemsee and Neuschwanstein in Germany; and the wonders of Austria and northern Italy. Later, once forbidden cities such as Berlin, Prague and Budapest also attracted visitors; as did Greece, France, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Sweden and the UK. Friendships with Americans, Germans and people of other nationalities were fostered; Canadians began playing on American baseball, volleyball and soccer teams and with German hockey clubs, and dates which started with the 'Donauwoerth Girls' soon switched to romance with American ladies.
By Sep 92 the Det had increased by an additional 11 members and families with CP02 GW Green having replaced CP01 BL Cameron as the Det Sgt Maj; the latter having promoted himself out of the job.
Over the months, countless activities occurred; many of which were unique to Communicator Research personnel and their families. A Memorandum of Agreement with Headquarters United States Army Europe was finally signed; legitimizing the support we had been receiving for some months. Liaison with members of 2 (EW) Sqn continued in order to plan for the possible employment of Det members with the Sqn and assist them in their visits to Augsburg. Personnel participated in ceremonies at the Durnbach War Cemetery and Vimy Ridge, the International Military Pilgrimage at Lourdes , the Nijmegen Marches, visits to 13 (BR) Sig Regt in Bergelin, and courses in Munich and Berlin. Many visitors came and went. Two marriages between American ladies and Canadian gentlemen were consummated. Seven children were born.
In years to come it is hoped that most members of the Canadian community in Augsburg will, for their own personal reasons, look back with fond memories of the time they spent in Germany. Some will have saved money. Some will have travelled. Some will have learned from their experience. Some will have taught others a new or better way to 'get the job done'. Some will have learned to drive a 'stick shift1. Some will have survived the Autobahn even though they were lost at the time. Some will take chains for their van on future ski trips. Some will return to Europe or travel to the US to visit friends they have made. Some will never go to Italy again. All should be better people for the experience.

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