________________________________________________________________________Richard S. Kem
Well, we should all be proud of the Pershings, and we should be proud of the conviction of
the Reagan administration that put them over there in the face of a lot of actions on the part
of the German populace and others to not deploy them. Even the German government stood
up and supported the deployment.
The Pershing II, I believe, was a major factor in causing change. Our ability to project farther
into the hinterlands and threaten things the Soviet Union didn't think would be threatened
was a motivator to them. I believe, also, it was a major factor in their seeing that they could
not compete with us both in the arms race and economically. They were really bankrupting
their nation economically in pushing the arms race. They weren't going to be able to beat us.
That started the chain of events in leadership thinking, Gorbachev's thinking, that led to
other things and the major changes that happened later.
The Pershing folks and the commanders there in the 56th Artillery Brigade did a super job in
planning for and executing that rather difficult maneuver--taking things down, moving them
out, moving people out, keeping morale up even while things are being taken apart. I think
they all really deserve real plaudits for the work they did.
Yes, that's a dramatic event for lots of different reasons. What about NATO issues while you
were there? Major alliance issues that you were having to deal with, apart from the problems
with the Germans?
I don't recall any. We had numerous major exercises with CENTAG and the rest. Our
interactions with the other forces and with the other commanders, both NORTHAG and
others, were strong. There was good interaction between General Saint and General Galvin.
So, I don't believe that there were major issues that came during my rather short time frame.
In the great scope of things, one year is not very long.
In those kinds of terms.
Did you have quite a bit of contact with your NATO--counterparts is not the right word--
officers in CENTAG, NORTHAG, German, British?
Not a whole lot really. Not me in particular. We did with CENTAG in that the CENTAG
headquarters was collocated in the same building. The CENTAG Chief of Staff, a German
major general, had his office immediately below mine. He would coordinate his staff from
there, and I would coordinate the USAREUR staff, and we socialized together and did some
When we went off in NATO field training exercises, General Saint would go off with
CENTAG, and the Deputy Commander in Chief, General George R. Stotser, would come
with us. We'd go out separately.