Tuesday, June 23, 2015

General John R. Gavin: 'Fighting The Cold War: A Soldier's Memoir'

Veteran journalist and author Joseph C. Goulden offers a good review of retired General John R. Gavin's book, Fighting the Cold War: A Soldier's Memoir, for the Washington Times.

As the leadership of the United States Army has become intensely intellectualized in recent decades, Gen. John R. “Jack” Galvin gained a deserved reputation as one of the “brainiest generals” ever to don a uniform.

Born into an Irish-American family in small-town Wakefield, Mass., Gen. Galvin was a protege-quality student from the beginning. After West Point he began his career as an airborne infantry officer. His account of the care taken to measure such things as drop-zone wind speeds should bring solace to anyone who has ever jumped out of an airplane.

Next, Vietnam, and here Gen. Galvin’s career took a potentially terminal dip. He was involved in helicopter attack operations, and he and a superior office did not mesh. So he was shunted back to Saigon as a logistics officer — relieved, essentially. (A later Vietnam tour was successful). During a teaching stint at West Point, he moonlighted as a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the poet Yeats. And at one point he almost resigned to teach college full-time.

But a knack for languages — Spanish and German — brought him prime assignments in NATO and Central America. His account of the latter experience shows how the attitudes and policies of local leaders can affect what the United States can do, militarily and diplomatically.

... During his 44-year career, Gen. Galvin would hold three major four-star positions: serving as commander in chief of the United States Southern Command in Latin America; the commander in chief of the United States European Command; and as NATO supreme allied commander, Europe.

Gen. Galvin’s greatest contribution to national security was his central role in adapting a post-Soviet NATO to the radical changes in the international balance of power. He was the man trusted by the military to insure America’s national security was not damaged by the drastic arms reductions — especially in nuclear weapons — following the Soviet collapse.

You can read the rest of the review via the below link:


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