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Cold War Leaders Learn About Transformation, Role in Terror War

By U.S. Army Sgt. Aimee Millham
Special to American Forces Press Service

HEIDELBERG, Germany, Dec. 7, 2006 – In today's global political environment, when something goes awry, the United States – rightly or wrongly -- can often get the brunt of the blame.

This was the blunt assessment of retired German army Gen. Leopold Chalupa as he explained why it is so important for he and other former European leaders to tell the story of U.S. Army, Europe.

Chalupa's words came during the USAREUR-sponsored Legion of Merit conference Dec. 5, where about 60 recipients of the medal received briefings on the transformation of U.S. forces in Europe and

their leading role in the global war on terrorism.

Having attended every LOM conference since the inaugural one in 1980, Chalupa said he appreciates gaining insight on the actions of the U.S. military in Europe, so that he is well informed when explaining to his countrymen the importance of supporting the U.S. military's involvement in the war on terror.

"I tell (German citizens), 'If you had been in the Empire State Building (on Sept. 11, 2001), the impact of what happened would have been far different than when you sit and watch, like we did, on TV,'" Chalupa said.

He and the other non-U.S. conference attendees all hold the LOM, which is awarded to U.S. servicemembers and to foreign governments' military and political figures for exceptionally meritorious conduct – giving validity to the insights and thought-provoking questions these former senior Cold War leaders offered at the meeting.

"Sitting down with former German corps commanders and former chiefs of staff of NATO organizations was absolutely invaluable," said Brig. Gen. James Boozer, USAREUR deputy chief of staff, adding that the views of these former leaders are priceless assets to a command that is

simultaneously transforming and at war.

Such interaction with foreign military leaders remains a central reason for continuing to hold the annual conference, especially with the role allied forces continue to play in U.S. operations worldwide.

"The U.S. is a key player, but we can't do this by ourselves," said Col. Lew Boone, USAREUR's public affairs officer. "One of the main tenets of the USAREUR commanding general's strategy map clearly states: 'Building coalition partners and allies,' and that's what we're about."

(Army Sgt. Aimee Millham is assigned to U.S. Army, Europe Public Affairs.)

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