They helped keep the Cold War cool...
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The British Commanders'-in-Chief Mission to the Soviet Forces in Germany (BRIXMIS) was set up on 16 September 1946 under the Robertson-Malinin Agreement between the chiefs of staff of the British and Soviet forces in occupied Germany.

The agreement called for reciprocal exchange of liaison missions to foster good working relations between the military occupation authorities in the two zones. Similar agreements were then reached the following year with the Soviets by the French (FMLM) and the Americans (
USMLM).

For unexplained reasons, the agreements differed significantly, with the result that the British contingent were allowed almost as many liaison staff in the Soviet Zone as the American and French Missions combined. The British mission also had the right to fly a light aircraft (ostensibly to maintain the flying skills of any pilots stationed there) within a defined area over the Soviet-controlled zone. The agreements remained in force until 2 October 1990 when all three missions deactivated on the eve of
Germany's reunification.

During the Cold War, the right of the missions to travel relatively freely throughout East German territory was used for the purpose of gathering intelligence on all Warsaw Pact forces based there. This include intelligence on installations, troop movements, equipment, morale, and other factors. The Missions did not employ agents (unlike the reciprocal Russian Missions present in West Germany).

The early 1960s - coinciding with the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 - and the early 1980s - coinciding with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1979-89 - were particularly difficult periods for the operational conduct of all the Missions, as world events were replayed and reciprocated at the tactical level out on the ground. Hostility from various Soviet and East German security and counter-intelligence agencies resulted in the death of a member of the French Mission in 1984 - Adjutant Chef Philippe Mariotti - and a member of the American Mission in 1985 - Major Arthur D. Nicholson. Curiously, this crescendo in hostility coincided with the arrival of Reagan and Gorbachev to power and the beginning of a thawing in East-West relations, culminating in the 'fall' of the Berlin Wall in November 1989.
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