“Learn Russian And You’ll Never Be Unemployed”: A US Military Liaison Mission Officer During The Cold War

James Holbrook


In this interview, LTC(R) James Holbrook discusses his service with the US Military Liaison Mission (USMLM). He served as a tour officer, patrolling East Germany to identify Red Army operations and ensure that they were adhering to treaty limits on the composition of forces allowed in country. Holbrook describes efforts to evade the East German police, who frequently got into high-speed car chases with the Americans conducting the mission. Later in his career, Holbrook received an assignment at the US Embassy in Moscow. While on a mission to observe the Soviet military buildup during the Polish crisis, his partner was drugged, and the Soviets attempted to compromise and recruit Holbrook. While the KGB was unsuccessful in recruiting him, it did mark the end of Holbrook’s time in Russia. After clearing his name, he worked as an instructor until his retirement. Since then, he has become an author, writing several books on his experiences in the military and dealing with Russians.


conflicts Cold War
topics USMLM United States Military Liaison Mission Teamwork Camaraderie Honor
interviewer Ben Griffin
date 28 April 2017


name James Holbrook
service Military Intelligence