The Bayonet

Wednesday, Mar. 05, 2014

Retired general shares views on US-China relationship

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Retired Maj. Gen. Bernard Loeffke, former commanding general of U.S. Army South, visited Fort Benning Feb. 24 to speak to a group of students from the Maneuver Captains Career Course, the Infantry Basic Officer Leadership Course and the Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course.

Loeffke, a former Special Forces Soldier during the Vietnam War, was awarded four Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart during a more than 35-year career.

During that time, Loeffke developed a relationship with various Chinese constituents, and shared some of those experiences during his talk to the Maneuver Center of Excellence students.

The talk centered on the relationship between the U.S. and China, which Loeffke said is complicated on many levels.

He said that the relationship between the two countries could be improved by focusing on relationship and diplomatic skills, rather than tactical and strategic components.

“If you read psychology, you will see that most of the problems of the world are relationship problems,” Loeffke said. “They’re not tactical or strategic. If you can solve relationship problems, the other problems will be easy to solve. That’s why I focus on relationships — relationships create everything else. We have to learn to start breathing deeply, relaxing and then talking.”

Loeffke lived in Russia during the 1970s, which he said helped to give him a unique perspective on the communist Chinese government.

“There are very few people like me who have lived … under communism,” he said. “I can tell you that communism does not work. It’s a disaster. … I saw the dissatisfaction. I’m not afraid of communism.”

Loeffke said he feels that training efforts should focus more on diplomatic efforts such as education and medicine in an effort to improve America’s perception around the world.

“Warriors need to be warriors, teachers and healers,” he said. “Warriors have to be well trained. That’s why Fort Benning is so important. We have to train them well.” However, he also said that the U.S. must be sure to remain militarily strong while also improving diplomatic efforts.

“I’m not saying that we don’t need a strong Army, because we do,” Loeffke said. “We need a very powerful Army, Navy and Air Force because we need to make sure that those who wish us ill understand that if they attack the United States like they did on 9/11, we will respond not lightly, but strongly. However, on the other hand, we have to teach them that America is good and we need not be harmed.”

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