During World War II, the Soviet Union became an ally of the Western democracies in their struggle against the Axis Powers of Germany, Japan and Italy. As the War neared its conclusion, the future of Eastern Europe became a point of contention between the Soviet Union and its Western allies. The Soviet Union had been invaded via Eastern Europe in both World Wars. Many of the border nations of the Soviet Union had participated in those invasions which devastated the Soviet Union.
At the close out of World War II, the Soviet Union became determined to install "friendly" border regimes throughout Eastern Europe. Their strategic goal was to protect its European borders from future invasions. Since the Soviet Union was a communist state, the Soviet government preferred to support and install communist regimes throughout Eastern Europe. The Red Army became the "Liberator" of the nations of Eastern Europe, placing the Soviet Union in a position to influence the type of new governments that would emerge.
The Soviets believed that they had an agreement with the Western democracies that made Eastern Europe a Soviet sphere of influence, i.e. the Soviet Union would have dominant influence in that region. By 1948, pro-Soviet regimes were in power in Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Czechoslovakia.
The Western democracies, led by the United States, were determined to stop the spread of communism and Soviet power buildup. While not being able to stop the Soviets in Eastern Europe, the US and Britain were determined to prevent communist regimes from achieving power in Western Europe. During World War II, communists parties throughout Western Europe had gained popularity in their resistance to Nazi occupation. There was a real possibility that the communist parties would be elected as a controlling majority government in both France and Italy.
Harry Truman was the first American president to fight the Cold War. One of his first policies. the "Truman Doctrine", gave money and military aid to countries threatened by communism. The "Truman Doctrine" effectively stopped communists from taking control of Greece and Turkey. Another policy was the Marshall Plan, which provided financial and economic assistance to the nations of Western Europe. This strengthened the economies and governments of countries in western Europe, and as the economies of Western Europe improved, the popularity of communist parties declined.
In parallel, the United States also led formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1949. NATO was a joint military group. Its purpose was to defend against Soviet threats in Europe. The first members of NATO were Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and the United States. The Soviet Union and its east European allies formed their own joint military group, "the Warsaw Pact" six years later.
By the 1950s, both the United States and the Soviet Union, each possessed nuclear weapons. The means of delivering such weapons on a "first strike" to their enemies, added a dangerous aspect to the Cold War. To minimize the need for the "first strike", the build up of conventional weapons and armies of each continued at a rapid pace. Units that had been deactivated at the close of World War II were reactivated, allocated equipment and manpower, and began training for deployment to establish a front line of defense on the European continent. One of these units was the 10th Cavalry Regiment which was redesignated as a modern Armored force and equipped as the 510th (Heavy) Tank Battalion
On 17 November 1950, the 510th Tank (Heavy) Battalion was activated at Camp Polk, LA and on 11 December was attached to the 15th Armored Cavalry Group. By 01 March 1951 the unit was at full strength, equipment shortages were filled with equipment borrowed from other units and a training program was initiated. The training program was divided into three phases. Phase one included preparation for attack, including movement to the battle area and positioning for the attack. The second phase included reinforcement with infantry and assignment of artillery and engineers to operate under various terrain conditions. The third phase centered on the attack and seizure of an objective and provide a covering force in the event of withdrawal.
Early phases of training progressed normally until May when a total of nine weeks of extended training were required for additional training in gunnery an allied subjects. By August, the performance level of the Battalion was at a level to began movement to Camp Irwin, CA. During 26 to 27 October, formal training tests and evaluations of the battalions performance was conducted at Ft. Irwin, CA. Final analysis and evaluations on the performance of the unit resulted in a "Satisfactory" rating for all three phases of the test.
Following the final evaluations, the 510th Tank Battalion returned to Camp Polk, LA and was re-attached to the 15th Armored Cavalry Operations. From January to April 1952, the principal mission of the Battalion was one of training with emphasis on company level training and review of Personnel Overseas Readiness (POR), the updating of records, wills, powers of attorney, etc., in preparation for deployment for an overseas assignment of all assigned personnel.
On 16 April, the Battalion received a deployment notice for the European Command area. (EUCOM) In preparation for the overseas assignment the Battalion departed for Camp Irwin. CA for one month of intensive training, returning to Camp Polk, LA on 05 July. By 25 July the Battalion had cleared all motor pool, billets and buildings at Camp Polk, LA and departed for the Point of Embarkation (POE) at New Orleans LA. and boarded USNS General Greely.
On 09 August the USNS General Greely arrived at Bramerhaven, Germany and the Battalion debarked and moved out to Kaufbeuren, Germany. The initial mission of the Battalion was one of reorganization, integration of Negro personnel from the 143rd Tank Battalion and preparation of emergency plans for deployment of the Battalion during and interim period through October.
On 10 October the Battalion moved to its permanent station at Sullivan Barracks, Mannheim Germany. For the remainder of the year the Battalion concentrated on training with emphasis on small unit (platoon) tactics. From 03 to 22 December the Battalion moved to Vilseck, Germany for specialized training at the Tank Training Center of the 7th Army. Returning to Mannheim, adjustments were made in operational plans of a highly classified nature.
On 01 May 1958, the 510th Tank Battalion was inactivated in Germany.
On 25 June 1958 the 510th Tank Battalion was redesignated as the 10th Cavalry Regiment ad reorganized as a parent regiment under the Combat Arms Regimental System.
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