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The fifteen essays in this volume offer a comprehensive look at the role of American military forces in Germany. The American military forces in the Federal Republic of Germany after WWII played an important role not just in the NATO military alliance but also in German-American relations as a whole. Around twenty-two-million US servicemen and their dependants have been stationed in Germany since WWII, and their presence has contributed to one of the few successful American attempts at democratic nation building in the twentieth century. In the social and cultural realm the GIs helped to Americanize Germany, and their own German experiences influenced the US civil rights movement and soldier radicalism. The US military presence also served as a bellwether for overall relations between the two countries.
The West German experts envisioned that the Federal Republic would provide the proposed European Defense Community (EDC) with a modern tactical air force for close air support to German army units. The plan to restrict the air force to providing combat support to ground forces stemmed in part from the dominance of infantry and artillery experts in the West Germans' discussions and the lessons they had drawn from their World War II experiences. It also reflected the scant attention the Jahrbuch der Luftwaffe had given to aerial doctrine and the theory of airpower during the 1930s and 1940s. The U.S. Air Force (USAF) began a program within the framework of the Mutual Defense Assistance Program (MDAP) in 1953 to train pilots and technicians from NATO member states at air bases in Bavaria. The scale of American materiel and training support reduced their chances to influence German air potential.