Rogers, Bernard W.


1979 ALS on his impending appointment as Supreme Allied Commander Europe, from one of the few generals to receive a DSC earned in Vietnam; as Army Chief of Staff authorized creation of elite “Delta Force”


Type: Letter
Description: (1921-2008) Kansas-born Army Chief of Staff, NATO Supreme Commander, SACEUR commander-in-chief.

USMA 1943 (Cadet First Captain), aide to General Mark Clark 1945-47 when Clark was High Commissioner to Austria and 6th Army CO. In 1947 he was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, promoted to captain. In Korea, he led 3d Btn, 9th Infantry 1952-53, then an aide to the commander in chief and staff intelligence officer of the UN and Far East Commands 1953-54. Graduated from the Army War College 1960, served in Europe 1960-61, military assistant and XO to Gen. Maxwell Taylor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1962-66.

He was asst. commander 1st Infantry in Vietnam 1966-67 , took part in 2 major offensive operations, “Cedar Falls” and “Junction City”, writing an account of them at Gen. Westmoreland’s request. He was awarded the Army’s highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross, for leading a counterattack against a Vietcong raid on a So. Vietnamese Special Forces camp. He was one of only a few to receive the DSC for actions taken while a general.

West Point Commandant 1967-69 then led the 5th infantry (Mechanized) and Ft. Carson, Colo. 1969-70. The 5th was seen as disorganized and unprepared, racial conflict and drug abuse were serious problems, the division experiencing high turnover as soldiers rotating back from Vietnam served out the remainder of their enlistment. He ended kitchen duty (KP), reveille, roll call and Friday night “GI parties”, where soldiers scrubbed the barracks for Saturday inspections. He also created a channel of communication for enlisted men to relay grievances and suggestions for improvements. Morale improved, racial tensions de-escalated, re-enlistments soared, and Rogers became known as one of the Army’s brightest thinkers.

He was promoted to temporary major general Feb. 1970, brigadier general Aug. 1971, temporary lieut. general Nov. 1972, and major general June 1973 while Army Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel 1972-74. Promoted to temporary 4-star general Nov. 1974, he commanded the Army’s Army Forces Command at Ft. McPherson 1974-76. As Army Chief of Staff 1976-79, he continued reforms, improved training and developed plans for a modern “quick-strike” force. He also took steps to make the Army friendlier to women and minorities. He authorized formation of Delta Force, 1st US military counter-terrorist unit.

Rogers was Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), NATO 1979-87 and, concomitantly, Commander in Chief of US European Command. As SACEUR, Rogers would have led all NATO forces in the event of an attack by the Warsaw Pact on West Europe. When Reagan signed a treaty with the USSR to withdraw intermediate-range missiles from Europe, General Rogers called it “foolish” and was rebuked by Secretary of State Shultz; he soon retired after 47 years of service.

ALS “Bernie”, on 8 x 5 letterhead as Army Chief of Staff, (Washington),March 16 1979, to “Dee” (Gen. DeWitt C. Smith, Army War College Commandant). He thanks Smith for his recent notes and generous comments, does not have “much opportunity to think about the SACEUR position” but occasionally does, is happy with his prospects but would have been happier if the appointment would be 15 months off to finish the “full tour” as Chief of Staff. His appointment came through June 1979, assumed command July 1.

DeWITT C. SMITH, JR. (1920 -1985) US Army officer, former deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) Army War College commandant 1974 -77, 1978-80. In 1942, he joined the Army, commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, served with the 4th Armored Div. in combat after Normandy to the end of the War. Wounded 3 times, he was awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged 1946, he returned to active duty in Korea and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Maxwell Taylor, served in the “Old Guard” at Fort Myer, and was a battalion XO and commander in Germany. He served at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. He led a combat brigade of the 1st Infantry in Vietnam. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson, Colo. was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.

Condition: Very good, pencil identification top left

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