Cold War II

With the departure of the US Army from Vietnam, the 1st Infantry Division retrained its war focus on the defense of western Europe. The 2nd Battalion, along with the rest of the Big Red One, was reorganized in April 1970 at Fort Riley as a mechanized organization. The 1st Battalion was also concurrently reorganized as mechanized infantry as part of the 3rd Brigade, 1st Infantry Division (later known as the 1st Infantry Division [Forward]) at Augsburg, Germany.

The 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) was now part of the heavy forces maintained in the United States for deployment to Germany to reinforce NATO. The 3rd Brigade, being stationed in Germany already, was an integral part of the existing NATO defenses. To prepare the bulk of the 1st Infantry Division for its wartime mission focus for the next twenty years, the division’s training largely focused on two frequently recurring exercises. One was Exercise REFORGER (Return of Forces to Germany) which was designed to prepare the division for rapid deployment to Europe.

The second major training event started in 1983 and consisted of rotations to the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California about every 18 months for each brigade. In a major reorganization of U.S. Army Reserve units in 1976, the 3rd Battalion was transferred to Maine with headquarters at Saco, and the subordinate companies located throughout that state and with its Combat Support Company in New Hampshire. The move was designed to lessen the competition for personnel with other battalions still in Massachusetts. By this time the battalion had assumed a wartime mission of the reinforcement of Iceland as part of the 187th Infantry Brigade (Separate). In 1983, the US Army underwent a major reorganization that encompassed a new division TOE (i.e., “Division 86” or the “J-Series” TOE) and the US Army Regimental System (USARS).

Under USARS, the regiment was expanded by two additional active infantry battalions: the 4th Battalion (nicknamed the “Blue Devils”), stationed at Göppingen, Germany, as part of the 1st Infantry Division (Forward); and the 5th Battalion (nicknamed the “Devil Rangers”), assigned to the 1st Brigade at Fort Riley. These new battalions were activated to support the USARS and a new manning system called COHORT (Cohesion, Operational Readiness Training). Under the COHORT concept entire companies would go through basic and advanced individual training together, transfer to their new battalion, and spend the rest of the “life cycle” of the company training together until replaced by another COHORT company at the end of 3 years. Although neither COHORT or USARS were successful programs, they were still nominally in effect in 1990 when the regiment was once again called to war.

  • Soldiers of the 2nd Battalion board a C-141 during REFORGER II in October 1970.

  • Elements of the 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry on an attack during REFORGER IV in 1972.

  • SPC Eric Gear, CSC, 1st Battalion, aims his TOW on REFORGER IV in 1972.

  • The 2nd Battalion was reorganized at Fort Riley, KS, after the 1st Infantry Division departed Vietnam.

  • Troops of 2-16 IN on Arkansas River Trace Adventure Training, May 1972.

  • Troops of 1st Platoon, B Company, 4th Battalion, 16th Infantry at Cooke Barracks, Goppingen, Germany about 1984.