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William S. Cohen Papers | Senate Legislative Materials, Armed Services, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines

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MS Dale Gerry 1976-1996 81 boxes

Dale Gerry worked for Senator Cohen in his Bangor district office in the mid 1970s and then in the Senate office as Legislative Assistant handling issues related to defense. From 1994 to 1996, he served as Legislative Director for Cohen. Because of the longevity of his career, the scope of this subseries is broad. The overarching theme for armed services during this time period was defense reorganization, which encompassed changes in the strategic forces to respond to more diverse threats, expansion of the role of women in the military, and an increased reliance on special forces. Arranged alphabetically by subject, most of the files are in the Armed Services subseries including categories such as Base Closures, Bath Iron Works, Military Construction, and Women in the Military. Two related subjects, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine, were maintained in separate subseries. Dale Gerry's files can also be found in Defense: Veterans, Defense: Loring Air Force Base, Project Files (1976-1985, also defense-related), and Commerce and Transportation.

MS Armed Services, 1976-1996, 75 boxes.

Dale Gerry's files parallel the activities of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), of which Cohen was a member throughout his Senate career. This subseries details every aspect of Cohen's work with SASC and the subcommittees for projection forces, strategic forces, nuclear deterrence, and military personnel. Gerry also helped Cohen respond to constituent issues related to these topics. Highlights of the material include:

Base closure-The Base Realignment and Closure Commission met throughout 1991 and 1992 and concluded with recommendations to close six bases in the U.S. Cohen was not a member of the Commission, but he and his staff paid close attention to the process because of Loring Air Force Base in Maine. Gerry's files (5 linear ft.) cover the period 1988 to 1995 and include all the meeting minutes, hearing transcripts, reports and recommendations from the Secretary of Defense, fact sheets and assessments for the individual bases.

Confirmation hearings-The SASC conducts hearings to review presidential nominations for defense-related positions in the government. In 1989, President Bush nominated John Tower to be Secretary of Defense. (See James Dykstra subseries for more on the controversial Tower nomination.) In 1992, Les Aspin was confirmed and after he resigned in late 1993, William Perry was nominated and confirmed.

DOD Authorization-The SASC annually engages in a rigorous review of the Department of Defense Authorization bill prior to appropriations. Dale Gerry's files directly related to DOD Authorization span 1981 to 1993 (6 linear ft.). However, much of the material in the other Armed Services files resulted from the process of studying evidence for or against appropriations for specific technologies, projects, or contracts for the military.

Homosexuals in the military-In connection with his legislative responsibilities for military manpower and personnel issues, Gerry documented the deliberations over unit cohesion and the ban on gays in the military. Changes were made in July 1993 when Secretary of Defense Aspin implemented the so-called "don't ask don't tell" policy. The files include extensive research and legal history, clippings, letters to constituents, and a 500-page report, Sexual Orientation and U.S. Military Personnel Policy: Options and Assessment, prepared by the National Defense Research Institute.

Loring Air Force Base-Gerry's Loring files focus mainly on the legal challenge to the Commission's recommendation to close Loring in 1992. Cohen and the other members of the Maine delegation to Congress filed a lawsuit-along with several municipalities in Aroostook County and the Save Loring Committee-against officials of the Department of Defense and the Commission. The lawsuit specifically challenged the methods by which the Air Force reviewed Loring AFB. Gerry's files also include information on potential uses for the base after closure, such as the Junior Leadership Corp. (See more of Dale Gerry's files on Loring Air Force Base closure and reuse in the Loring Air Force Base subseries.)

Maine-Cohen and his staff frequently heard from Maine firms bidding on government contracts for defense or in negotiation with the defense department. At least twice, Cohen's office became involved in resolving disputes between government bureaucracy and private industry. The Maine companies include Bath Iron Works, Crowe Rope, Dumont Refrigeration, Fairchild Semiconductor Corporation, Gowen Marine, Fiber Materials Incorporated, Keyes Fiber, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Pratt and Whitney Aircraft Group, Saco Defense Inc., Tom Sawyer Inc., Tracor Marine, and Wallace Marine. Another Maine issue was Air National Guard low-level air training in military operations areas proposed for western and northern Maine in the early 1990s.

Projection forces-The U.S. military focus in the late 1980s through the 1990s emphasized expanding and modernizing conventional units such as fighter jets, aircraft carriers, helicopters, and air/sea lift craft. Cohen was chair of the Sea Power and Force Protection subcommittee monitoring this effort.

Women in the military-In 1987, Senators Cohen and Proxmire (D-WI) cosponsored a bill "to increase the combat support assignments open to women in the Armed Forces." Though the bill did not pass, the debate had a significant impact on Pentagon policies including increasing the number of billets open to women and improving sexual harassment training. Gerry's files on women in the military include two boxes of material he received from Senator Proxmire's staff when Proxmire retired from the Senate.

Access to records in this sub series is restricted until 2017. Consult the Special Collections Department for further information.

MS Coast Guard, 1979-1996, 3 boxes.

The United States Coast Guard, controlled within the Department of Transportation from 1967 to 2003 when it was transferred to the Department of Homeland Security, is concerned primarily with regulating commerce in the ports, enforcing fisheries laws, policing the coast, and facilitating safety at sea. Like the Merchant Marine, however, the Coast Guard is viewed as a supplement to the military. While this capacity may be the reason for the files being maintained by staff member Dale Gerry, many aspects of the Coast Guard's work in Maine were relevant to Cohen as a Senator. Maine has 3500 miles of coastline where commercial fishermen and recreational boaters rely on the Coast Guard for marine safety and where the Coast Guard has a prominent role in drug interdiction.
Materials in this subseries relate to: light houses in Maine; Maine businesses with Coast Guard contracts; consolidation of vessel documentation offices in Boston in early 1980s; constituent correspondence related to reductions in funding for Coast Guard; proposed reductions in navigational aids in 1982; and the reopening of the Eastport search and rescue station in1989 after a one year closure. Cohen and his staff followed Coast Guard funding and authorization measures closely and frequently provided testimony at hearings of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation and the Senate Appropriations Committee in favor of maintaining and expanding Coast Guard funding and programs.
Arranged alphabetically. Materials include correspondence, reports, clippings, memos, statements, hearing transcripts, and press releases.

Access to records in this sub series is restricted until 2017. Consult the Special Collections Department for further information.

MS Merchant Marine, 1980-1996, 3 boxes.

The merchant marine serves as a national resource for sea lift in times of war or emergency. As a senator from a state with a major shipbuilding company, a maritime academy, and three shipping ports, Cohen and his staff became actively involved in any related legislation and oversight. Some of the specific issues that arose during this period were: cargo preference requiring that the government reserve certain percentages of cargoes to American flag vessels; the effect of defense spending cuts on Maine people; the government-maintained training ship at Maine Maritime Academy and the Ready Reserve Force; the National Maritime Heritage Act sponsored by Senator Cohen in 1994; diversification at Bath Iron Works through improved technology and reaching out to international markets; foreign shipbuilding subsidies; and passenger vessel safety. Other staff members contributing to these files include Michael Hastings and Melanie DeMayo.
Arranged alphabetically, files include letters from industry trade organizations, reports, correspondence, news clippings, and staff memos.

Access to records in this sub series is restricted until 2017. Consult the Special Collections Department for further information.

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Contact the Cohen Papers: 207.581.2665 | | Revised: 01/05/2015
5729 Fogler Library
University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5729
Phone: 207-581-1661 | Fax: 207-581-1653
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The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469