CFB Lahr

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Canadian Forces Base Lahr, or CFB Lahr, was a Canadian Forces Base located in Lahr, Federal Republic of Germany. During the late 1960s it was operated primarily as an air force base, then as an army base until closure in 1994.

[edit] History

The process which would see Canada establish a presence at Lahr can be traced back to the 1950s with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).

NATO identified a shortage in all-weather fighter/interceptor aircraft in 1955 and the RCAF responded by providing an Air Division of 4 squadrons equipped with the CF-100 Canuck to supplement existing squadrons equipped with the F-86 Sabre. The Sabre units were subsequently converted to the CF-104 Starfighter beginning in 1962 and the Canuck squadrons disbanded. The Starfighter units changed the RCAF's original mission from fighter/interceptor to nuclear strike/reconnaissance. RCAF nuclear-armed units under NATO operational control were based in France at RCAF Station Marville (1 Wing) and RCAF Station Grostenquin (2 Wing) and in West Germany at RCAF Station Zweibrücken (3 Wing) and RCAF Station Baden-Soellingen (4 Wing).

In 1963 the Government of France announced that all nuclear weapons located on French soil (NATO or French) would be controlled by France itself. This was unacceptable to the RCAF (and other NATO units stationed in France), so the two nuclear strike squadrons at 2 Wing were hastily moved in fall 1963 to Zweibrücken and Baden-Soellingen while remaining non-nuclear armed units in France were repositioned to Marville.

In March 1966 the Government of France announced that it would be withdrawing its military forces from NATO and that current NATO units based in France must leave or fall under French military command. This forced the RCAF to look for a home in Western Europe for 1 Wing and 1 Air Division HQ. They settled on Base Arienne 139 Lahr which the Armée de l'Air was vacating as per the French government's announced withdrawal from NATO. RCAF personnel, aircraft and equipment were transferred to the new RCAF Station Lahr by March 1967 with dependents to follow later.

On February 1, 1968 the RCAF merged with the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) and Canadian Army to form the Canadian Armed Forces. RCAF Station Lahr was renamed Canadian Forces Base Lahr, shortened to CFB Lahr. As part of an effort to remove duplication and cut the defence budget resulting from unification of the services, 3 Wing at RCAF Station Zweibrücken was closed with its units consolidating at CFB Lahr and CFB Baden-Soellingen.

Further defence cuts and consolidation saw the Canadian Army (then renamed to Force Mobile Command) units based in Soest area of northern West Germany moved to CFB Lahr (some also moved to CFB Baden-Soellingen), with air force units concentrated at CFB Baden-Soellingen. The cuts resulted in a drawback of the air force from 6 squadrons to 3 which were reorganized under the new 1 Canadian Air Group banner.

Army units stationed at CFB Lahr were mostly heavy armour (using Leopard IA3 tanks) or mechanized infantry equiped with the M113 family of Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC).

CFB Lahr was home to:

  • One mechanized infantry battalion (always 1 Re22R (le van doo))
  • One Armoured regiment (before 1987, the Royal Canadian Dragoons; after 1987, the 8th Canadian Hussars)
  • One artillery regiment (1 RCHA)
  • One engineer unit(4CER), air defence, service battalion (4 Svc Bn), Headquarters 4 CMBG, field ambulance(4 Fd Amb), signals, plus support staff, were based in Lahr.
  • One mechanized infantry battalion(3 Mech Cdo to 1977, 3RCR 1977-1984, 2 PPCLI 1984-1988, and 3 RCR 1988-1993) occupied part of CFB Baden-Soellingen.

[edit] Closure

CFB Lahr maintained an important defence installation for NATO until the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of Germany eliminated the role for permanent deployment of the Canadian Forces in Western Europe. The closure of CF bases in Germany and redeployment was announced in the 1990 budget.

CFB Baden-Soellingen closed its airfield on March 31, 1993 and most units had departed by that summer. The base remained as a detachment of CFB Lahr until it was permanently closed December 31, 1993.

The last unit to leave CFB Lahr was 4 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group on August 31, 1993. CFB Lahr was officially decommissioned and closed a year later on August 31, 1994.

[edit] Links

CFB Lahr

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