The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Photo of Rodney Allison and Family
General Bell and his wife, Katie.

Chancellor Bill Stacy, General B.B. Bell, and Dr. Richard Casavant

Distinguished Alumnus General B.B. Bell Speaks to Campus

Europeans take a very different view than Americans on the conflict in Iraq, according to General B.B. Bell, the 35th recipient of the UTC Distinguished Alumnus Award. "They are fuzzy because the two towers did not fall in their country with 3,000 dead in 20 minutes. I think we ought to get mad, but not even, because we need friends to accomplish our goals," Bell said.

Bell, Commanding General, U.S. Army, Europe and Seventh Army discussed the global war on terrorism before a luncheon group that included UTC business students. One of only eight four-star generals in the U.S. Army, Bell commands 67,000 soldiers in 93 countries. Still remaining in Iraq are half of his troops, who are helping with peace keeping efforts there.

Bell also discussed embedded reporters in the military. He said there has historically been a love/hate relationship between the military and the press, and admits that the military is a secret society by its nature.

"We could use that as an excuse to keep the press out, and when we have, it was wrong and stupid," Bell said.

Bell considers the partnership the military developed with the press in Iraq "a thing of beauty." He said the military came to the realization during the Gulf War that media coverage did not lead to details of war plans being found on the internet, and trust was built for a partnership with the media in Iraq.

"The press engaged in the military from the inside out. Conspiracies have all been exposed as bunk. When we made mistakes, the media called our hand. When we did things right, they said we got it right," Bell said.

Leadership was another topic Bell discussed, and he took the opportunity to challenge UTC students to accept leadership positions on campus, to prepare them to for their careers. He said he acted on that inspiration provided by the late Professor George Connor, to become engaged with the University.

"He was such a leader, and there are so many people who are now leaders in society because of one guy," Bell said.