From the Pentagon to Lunch with Gen. Westmoreland (1968-1975)

Tony Bowe begins his interview with Bill Bowe about his Army service by asking about his assignment after graduating from the U.S. Army Intelligence School at Ft. Holabird in Baltimore, Maryland. Bill says that he was assigned to the 902nd Military Intelligence Group, part of the Army’s Office of the Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence at the Pentagon. He ended up with the Counterintelligence Analysis Division (CIAD) of the 902nd that had a world wide mission including espionage, counterespionage, and counter-sabotage functions. Oddly enough, and given the times, among CIAD’s duties in this period was keeping track of faltering attempts to unionize U.S. troops.

As the Vietnam War continued to rage on, the Army had recently been deployed in a domestic peacekeeping role. With civil disturbances now occasionally spinning out of control of  the police and national guard, Bill’s duties were to monitor open and classified information in order to provide intelligence assessments and briefings on likely involvement of the Regular Army domestically. His intelligence consumer at the Pentagon was the Department of Defense’s newly created Department of Civil Disturbance Planning & Operations (DCDPO). Bill’s war room briefings on the likelihood of Regular Army troops being used to help control racial conflagrations or anti-war protests took place in the new Army Operations Center in a Pentagon basement and could be made available to The White House.  DCDPO had been created on the recommendation of former Deputy Secretary of Defense Cyrus Vance, whose Vance Report had urged the Army to prepare for a new domestic mission of dealing with civil disturbances after the 1967 Detroit riots. Bill also tells Tony about the later scandals related to allegations of the Army spying on civilians and members of Congress and reports how he later worked as an analyst for the task force set up to help the Secretary of the Army to respond to Congressional Hearings on the subject.

In addition to discussing this part of his work, Bill discusses his assignment to undertake a counterespionage and counter-sabotage study of threats to the Army’s new Safeguard Antiballistic Missile System then under development. This work took Bill to NORAD Headquarters in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs, Colorado and faraway atolls in the Pacific Ocean west of Hawaii. Bill reports that on his way to the Kwajalein Atoll missile test site, he had a most unusual stop at Johnston Atoll, where a then secret Program 37 was undertaking highly usual and short-lived testing of exoatmospheric detonations of nuclear warheads.

Bill finishes his conversation with Tony about his Army service by recalling his involvement with the 1971 Kent State University shootings and the Regular Army Airborne deployment to deal with demonstrations during a Black Panther murder trial near Yale University in New Haven Connecticut. Bill adds that immediately before he left the Army in May 1971, he was closely involved with the Army response to the “Shut Down the Government” antiwar protests in Washington, D.C.

In a coda to his Army days, Bill share with Tony his happenstance 1975 lunch with General William Westmoreland (USA Ret.) the former Commander of Vietnam War troops and Army Chief of Staff.