President Kennedy Press Conference - Cold War, front and center.

President Kennedy Gives A Press Conference – October 31, 1963 –

President Kennedy Press Conference – Cold War, front and center.

President Kennedy Press Conference – October 31, 1963 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

In his first Press Conference since October 9th, President Kennedy answered a barrage of questions, including many about a rumored withdrawal of American troops and other Military Personnel from Germany.

President Kennedy: The policy of the United States is to maintain six divisions in Germany, as long as they are required. In addition to these six divisions, and over and above our NATO commitments, we sent to Germany as temporary reinforcements during the Berlin crisis of 1961 six combat units consisting of three artillery battalions, two armored battalions and one armored cavalry regiment.

This augmentation of U.S, forces in Germany was made to help meet the deficiency of other NATO members in fulfilling their commitments at a very crucial time when the build-up of West Germany’s own forces was incomplete. Although some of these deficiencies have been corrected, and the German force build-up is progressing, we are prepared to keep these additional combat units in Germany as long as there is a need for them. Thus, we are not planning any reduction in United States combat units in Germany.

As part of the reorganization of the Army’s European logistic forces, we are planning some reduction in non-combat personnel, a matter on which, of course, we are in touch with our Allies. But we do not intend to bring back any units or personnel whose return would impair the military effectiveness of our forces in Germany. In short, we intend to keep our combat forces in Germany as they are today. That is, more than six combat divisions.

QUESTION: Mr. President, that being so, how many human beings are we going to bring back from European stations?

THE PRESIDENT: Any we bring back, we may include some supply forces or–

QUESTION: As much as a regiment, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we have over, I think, 240,000 or 250,000, so a regiment is a very small– less than a percent of that, so I am sure that there will be movements in and out. But we are talking about the whole European theater. But in the case of Germany, and I think it important to make this clear, the six divisions which are our NATO commitment are being kept. In addition, these other combat units are being kept in Germany also. If there is any change in personnel, and I am sure there will be some, it will be in logistic forces. There have been some changes, for example, in our logistic supply lines in France, there may be some changes in headquarters units and all the rest. They are relatively small. They may be spaced over a period of time. But our combat effectiveness, of course, is increasing as our materiel increases.

QUESTION: Will these six divisions, sir, be kept at conventional divisional strength?

THE PRESIDENT: That is correct. There will be no change, no change in the number of combat forces in Germany, no change in the number of these extra forces, which I have said are beyond our NATO commitment, but which will be also kept in Germany.

QUESTION: Mr. President, you spoke of some deficiencies. Who is falling short?

THE PRESIDENT: We are talking about deficiencies in 1961 when we were having a serious crisis in Berlin where the NATO forces were inadequate. As you know, I think the Secretary of State made a reference to the fact that a number of our Allies had not, and in some cases have not, met their NATO commitments today, with the number of forces that should be stationed in Germany for the defense of Germany.

Here is that complete Press conference with President Kennedy as given on October 31, 1963.

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