Following the decision to maintain 250,000 U.S. troops in Germany after the Allied victory in 1945, the U.S. Army had, for the most part, been a model of what a peacetime occupying army stationed in an ally's country should be. The army had initially benefited from the positive results of U.S. foreign policy toward West Germany and the deference of the Federal Republic toward it, establishing cordial and even friendly relations with German society. By 1968, however, the disciplined military of the Allies had been replaced with rundown barracks and shabby-looking GIs, and U.S. bases in Germany had become a symbol of the army's greatest crisis, a crisis that threatened the army's very existence.
In An Army in Crisis Alexander Vazansky analyzes the social crisis that developed among the U.S. Army forces stationed in Germany between 1968 and 1975. This crisis was the result of shifting deployment patterns across the world during the Vietnam War; changing social and political realities of life in postwar Germany and Europe; and racial tensions, drug use, dissent, and insubordination within the U.S. Army itself, influenced by the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the youth movement in the States. With particular attention to 1968, An Army in Crisis examines the changing relationships between American and German soldiers, from German deference to familiarity and fraternization, and the effects that a prolonged military presence in Germany had on American military personnel, their dependents, and the lives of Germans. Vazansky presents an innovative study of opposition and resistance within the ranks, affected by the Vietnam War and the limitations of personal freedom among the military during this era.