Sunday, 31 August 2008

Alfred Maximilian Gruenther

General Alfred Maximilian Gruenther - Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR); Chief o/t Advanced Planning Group; Director of US Joint Defense Staff; President o/t American Red Cross

Born at Platte Center, Nebraska, March 3, 1899, he graduated from West Point in 1917.
He became famous for the quality of his staff and tactical planning work, becoming World War II's youngest Major General.

After the war, he served as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 1953 to 1956 as a Full General. Pretty exclusive company when one considers those who have held this office (Dwight D Eisenhower, 1951-1952( later President of the United States); Matthew B Ridgway, 1952-1953 (who later was Army Chief of Staff); Lauris Norstad, 1956-1962; Lyman L Lemnitzer, 1963-1969 (who later was Chairman JCS); Andrew J Goodpaster, 1969-1974; Alexander M Haig, 1974-1979; Bernard W Rogers,1979-1987; John R Galvin, 1987-1992; John M Shalikashvili, 1992-1993 (later Chairman of the JCS);George A Joulwan, 1993-1997; Wesley K Clark, 1997-2000.

General Alfred M. Gruenther retired after 38 years in the U.S. Army on December 31, 1956, and on the following day he became President of the American Red Cross. His final military assignment was as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, a position which he occupied at SHAPE Headquarters in Paris from July 1953 until he retired.

He brought with him a warm enthusiasm for the Red Cross. Having seen the organization function effectively during World War II and in peacetime, he had been deeply impressed with the humanitarian principles underlying the world-wide programs of the organization. Early in his administration General Gruenther became convinced that one of his principle duties would be the telling of the Red Cross story. His strenuous schedule took him back and forth across the United States scores of times. On June 25, 1963, at Elkhart, Indiana, he filled his 748th speaking engagement as the American Red Cross President.

He was the official representative of the American Red Cross at the League of Red Cross Societies and was a member of the Executive Committee of the League, which has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. He served as vice chairman of the League and a member of the Standing Commission of the International Red Cross. General Gruenther's first major international Red Cross meeting was at the nineteenth International Red Cross Conference in New Delhi, India, in 1957. Since then, he has visited 31 Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, including those of Canada, Japan, the Phillippines, Indonesia, Australia, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Poland, the U.S.S.R., and nearly all of the Western European societies. In February 1962, he went to Panama to participate in the Gray Lady training course conducted by the American Red Cross to help start the Gray Lady program in Panama and the five countries of Central America. He also visited the Red Cross societies of Chile, Peru, Argentina, and Brazil. He devoted much time to the Red Cross Blood Program, which at that time supplied more than 45 percent of the more than 5 million pints of blood used in blood transfusions in the United States. He was always eager to explain to audiences the Red Cross program for the conversion of outdated blood into blood fractions, the research program for the preservation of whole blood, and the program for the classification of rare blood types. He credited Red Cross blood with saving the life of his son when he was seriously wounded in combat in Korea. Perhaps his greatest Red Cross interest was the development of the Red Cross youth program as a means of preparing young people for community and national volunteer leadership responsibilities. General Gruenther was decorated by the United States and 14 other governments and by nine Red Cross societies. He received honorary degrees from 32 American colleges and universities. General Gruenther reached the mandatory Red Cross retirement age of 65 early in March 1964, and he retired at the end of that month.

He died in Washington, D.C. on May 30, 1983 and was buried in Section 7 of Arlington National Cemetery.

His wife, Grace E. Gruenther (November 23, 1897-May 18, 1979), is buried with him.

Supreme Allied Commander Europe


General Alfred M. Gruenther, USA

In July of 1953 the President of the United States appointed General Alfred Gruenther to become the Supreme Allied Commander Europe. General Gruenther had long experience in the Alliance, having begun with the early planning group and continued through the first two SACEURs. He had joined the organisation before SHAPE existed, and was tasked, as the director of the Advanced Planning Group at the Hotel Astoria in Paris, to organise a headquarters and NATP military structure. Upon its activation by General Eisenhower on 2 April 1951, Gen. Gruenther was the logical choice to be the first Chief of Staff of SHAPE.

He served as the chief of Staff for both General Eisenhower, an old World War II comrade and for General Ridgway, Ike’s successor. He had actually been Ike’s choice as his successor, but the President and NATO council had agreed upon Ridgway. Less well known than his two predecessors, Gruenther was highly talented and, working in conjunction with the first DSACEUR, Field Marshal Montgomery, did much to improve Allied Command Europe.

When appointed SACUER, General Gruenther was the youngest four star general in the US Army. He was known as an officer who could assimilate and organise masses of information, converting the whole into clear operational plans. His sense of informality inspired the SHAPE staff and was in great measure responsible for the harmony among SHAPE officers in carrying out their tasks.

He was famous for sending little notes, called “Grunnions,” that dealt with details to be looked into. He also occasionally “Gruetherized” the staff, which meant he queried someone intensely in order to refine something more clearly. He was also known to send “Gruenther-grams”, or short but detailed memos, to the staff to provide guidance.

He felt that NATO’s defensive concept was one of U.S. nuclear weapons that formed a ‘sword’ and a necessary conventional ‘shield’ that would make that nuclear retaliation one of last resort. Another member joined the Alliance in 1955 – Germany. General Gruenther strongly promoted the addition of German forces into the military structure as an important element of the ‘shield’.

He campaigned vigorously for German integration into NATO’s force structure against some significant opposition and reluctance by some of the allies. Gruenther succeeded and with the new German armed force integrated into Allied Command Europe, the conventional defence of the Alliance was significantly enhanced.

Some of General Gruenther’s other achievements as SACUER were: a new approach that improved basic Allied planning; improved infrastructure planning and programming; the initiation of a coordinated air defence system in NATO Europe; and the introduction of improved communications systems into the Alliance’s command and control environment.

General Gruenther had the same zeal as General Eisenhower in his desire to promote NATO and he continued a personal public information campaign throughout his tenure. In 1955, for example, Gruenther made numerous speeches outside the headquarters and spoke to hundreds of visitor groups. His message was always ‘Unity!’ His speaking style was careful but casual and he never used a prepared speech.

By December of 1955 General Gruenther had decided to retire. He announced his retirement in April 1956.

General Gruenther was a native of Nebraska who graduated fourth in his class at the U.S. Military Academy at West Pont in 1918. He served in numerous peacetime assignments through 1941. In August 1942 he was appointed as Deputy Chief of Staff for the new Allied Force Headquarters in London, where his boss was General Eisenhower. Later he served as Chief of Staff of the 15 th Army Group in Italy. After the war, he served as Director of the Joint Staff of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Before assuming duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans for the US Army. It was from this position that he was sent to Paris as chief of the Advanced Planning Group in January 1951.

After SHAPE, General Gruenther went on to become the President of the American Red Cross.
GRUENTHER, Alfred M. (Gen. USA, Ret.) (1)-(7) [SHAPE and European matters;
Red Cross; use of multinational forces; address on NATO; Japanese Red Cross
Society and nuclear weapons; American Legion and status of forces agreements;
Fulton Lewis; Grand Cross of Military Merit of Sovereign Order of Malta; Middle
East oil] (Proof Positive)
Social Network Diagram:
Bird,K. The Chairman. 1992 (468, 623)
Bird,K. The Color of Truth. 1998 (181)
Corvo,M. The O.S.S. in Italy, 1942-1945. 1990 (245)
Domhoff,G.W. The Higher Circles. 1971 (153)
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Hunt,L. Secret Agenda. 1991 (135)
Kaplan,F. The Wizards of Armageddon. 1983 (176)
Mollenhoff,C. The Pentagon. 1967 (121)
NACLA. The University-Military-Police Complex. 1970 (27)
Prados,J. Keepers of the Keys. 1991 (31, 187)
Prados,J. Presidents' Secret Wars. 1988 (118)
Swanberg,W.A. Luce and His Empire. 1972 (370)
Yakovlev,N. Washington Silhouettes. 1985 (164)
pages cited this search: 15

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