From the Stars and Stripes archives

Haig visits troops, stresses role within NATO

Gen. Alexander M. Haig, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, visits training Area M, near Schweinfurt, Germany, in August, 1976.


By BOB CULLEN | S&S STAFF WRITER Published: August 13, 1976

The Navy calls it "showing the flag," but in USAREUR the last couple of days it could have been called "showing the stars."

Gen. Alexander M. Haig, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, spent Wednesday in the 1st Armd Div area at Ansbach and the Seventh Army training area at Grafenwöhr, then flew in to spend Thursday with the men of the 3rd Inf Div in Schweinfurt and Kitzingen. During his day in the 3rd Inf Div area Haig stopped often to talk with troops, asking enlisted men how much time they had in the Army and whether they planned to make the Army their career.

A luncheon at the 3rd Bn, 64th Armor, dining facility was followed by a brief news conference in which the SHAPE commander touched on a variety of subjects, including the currently controversial topic of standardization.

"We have to look at the standardization issue from two points of view," the general said. "We have to consider that it takes from five to 10 years to move a piece of equipment from concept to production."

He added that standardization also means the Allies "have to be practical and realistic," particularly because of the significant financial considerations involved.

He stressed the importance of "interoperability," of the NATO Allies being able to "feed one another, to operate with one another." Haig saw the effective cooperation of diverse Allied units as an "immediate answer to standardization." Several times the general stressed the importance of "commonality of doctrine," and of "units of; different nations being. able to support one another."

The cooperation of Allied units was also mentioned as a key factor in the upcoming Autumn Forge maneuvers. He said such cooperation had "greatly increased."

"`Not in volume, or a saber-rattling way, but in quality ... and in a multination environment," Haig added. Autumn Forge will see the participation of British, Belgian, Dutch, West German and American forces, he said.

Speaking on American military strength in Europe. Haig said, "At the moment, I see no indications pointing to a reduction of American forces in Europe."

"Combat-readiness" was also stressed by the general. In his opinion, Allied forces have accomplished their necessary combat-readiness, particularly in their ability to "react to shorter-notice attacks," Haig said.

The general visited Co D. 10th Engr Bn in Kitzingen, where he viewed mine-laying training. He then helicoptered to Training Area M, six miles north of Schweinfurt, where he visited Co A, 2nd Bn, 64th Armor, and Co C, 2nd Bn, 30th Inf.

Gen. Alexander M. Haig, Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (and future secretary of state), visits with U.S. troops at training Area M, near Schweinfurt, Germany, in August, 1976.

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