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Iran and Security for General Officer Commanders

This was a "where were you when?" moment in my life.

by Eric Holdeman / January 4, 2020

I am showing my age by remembering the assassination attempt that occurred on four-star Gen. Kroesen when he was the Commander of all U.S. Army units in Europe. I remember the day vividly--because I saw him later that day. 


"General Kroesen was injured in Heidelberg on September 15, 1981, when his armoured Mercedes was targeted with an RPG-7 anti-tank rocket. Responsibility for the attack was claimed by the "Kommando Gudrun Ensslin" of the Red Army Faction (aka Baader-Meinhof Gang).  More information on the attack:

Terrorists fired an antitank grenade and gunshots today into the automobile of the United States Army's European commander, Gen. Frederick J. Kroesen, but the assassination attempt failed.
The general and his wife received only minor cuts when the grenade,fired from a wooded hillside in an elaborately planned ambush, exploded in the trunk of their car, partly shattering its rear window. At least eight gunshots were aimed at the armor-plated automobile and an accompanying military police vehicle, but none penetrated the passenger compartments.
The assassination attempt was made as the general drove to work at the United States Army's European headquarters here. It was the fourth attack on American personnel and installations in West Germany in the last three weeks and the 10th this year.
The office of the West German Federal Prosecutor said today's ambush, involving extremely skilled preparations and a Soviet-made grenade launcher, was in all likelihood the work of the Red Army faction, the name given by Andreas Baader and Ulrike Meinhoff to their left-wing terrorist group. Miss Meinhoff commited suicide in her prison cell in 1976; Mr. Baader did the same in 1977."

For my civilian readers, General Kroesen was the top General in Europe at the time. Protection for him included being in an armored car and having a military escort of Military Police. This happened at the time of a major field training exercise called Reforger that was ongoing at the time. I recall military units from the United States, Germany and Canada participated. These exercises were held in the actual German countryside, not on some military installation. My unit's role was serving as a large control center for monitoring the exercise. My individual position was briefing officer for people who wanted to have a situation update on the entire exercise. 

General Kroesen was scheduled to stop by that day to get a briefing. Then we heard of the attack and did not know if he would be coming or not. He did show up, with a bunch of other general officers. Because of the rocket attack and the shattering of the rear window he had visible cuts on the back of his neck that were likely caused by shattered glass. He was lucky to be alive!
I think he kept up with his schedule to show that he and the United States would not be intimidated. I have to say that he did seem a "bit distracted" and not all that interested in the briefing itself--which would be understandable. 
Now, back to today, 2020. Because of the US attack and killing of the Iranian General Qassim Soleimani I expect that all the personal force protection steps have been rachetted up considerably for general officers deployed outside of the United States. This might include:
  • Fully armored SUV's or other such vehicles
  • Increased number of armored escort vehicles and personnel
  • Possible use of helicopters to routinely move key people around
  • More firepower in those escort vehicles, beyond handguns and rifles
  • Altering routes to and from homes and places where they work
  • More security on the itineraries of important commanders

I'm wondering what, if anything, they are doing for general officers for major commands here in the U.S.? Some of the above is virtually certain for the Joint Chiefs of Staff Commanders. Others? I'm not too sure. They would be wise to be taking some additional precautions. 

Last story, I recall a commander for the 2nd Armored Brigade, Erlangen Germany, which was a full colonel, personally carried a loaded weapon when commuting from his home to his headquarters. That was in the 1980-82 time frame.

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