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U.S. General Who Oversaw Reagan-Era Military Buildup Dies

The U.S. general who headed the joint chiefs of staff under President Ronald Reagan and oversaw a major modernization of U.S. military might that many believe played a significant role in ending the Cold War has died at the age of 94.

The family of retired Army General John Vessey announced on August 18 that he died at home the previous evening.

Vessey was named chairman of the joint chiefs in 1982 and immediately began implementing Reagan's military buildup.

"It was probably the greatest peacetime modernization of the American military that ever took place," Vessey said in 2004. He added that the policy was adopted to counter a "big push" by the Soviet Union, which had deployed new intermediate-range nuclear missiles in East Germany and had been seeking to undermine NATO solidarity by interfering in European elections.

Under the buildup, the United States deployed Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe. At the same time, negotiations with the Soviet Union on the elimination of intermediate-range nuclear missiles advanced rapidly.

Based on reporting by AP and The New York Times