The US Army of the 1980s

The US Army maintained a force of over 200,000 troops in Europe with their equipment to deter a Warsaw Pact attack. Further equipment was positioned ready for the users to be flown in as part of the REFORGER reinforcement plans in the event of war.

United States M1A1 Abrams tank

The US Army started the last decade of the Cold War intent on shaking off the legacy of the Vietnam War. The end of this conflct had left the US Army demoralised by its failure to win a decisive victory over a supposedly much weaker enemy and lacking in up to date equipment as the needs of counter-insurgency in South East Asia had been prioritised over facing the Soviet Army in the Fulda Gap. The early 1980s saw prgrams intended to retrain, remotivate, reorganise and reequip so as to rebuild the capabilities of the US Army.

United States M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle

The big test of the rebuilding process was faced, not on the fields of West Germany, but in the deserts of Kuwait and Iraq. The Soviet-equipped Iraqi Army, 4th largest in the world with 8 years of war with Iran behind it, was destroyed in a land campaign of 100 hours, outclassed by American training, leadership and equipment.

The end of conscription after the Vietnam War left the US Army as a regular force but not a professional one, something the rebuilding process sought to change. In the early part of the 1980s US troops should be rated either Raw or Trained and Conscript or Regular, depending on the actual formation and year. As the improvement programs bear fruit troop quality rises and by the end of the decade ratings can be Trained or Expert and Regular or Professional.

United States troops


The US Army Europe lists can be downloaded here

An 82nd Airborne rifle company list can be downloaded here

A USMC rifle company list can be downloaded here

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