Major General (Ret) Kenneth R. Bowra was commissioned a regular Army officer and assigned as Airborne Rifle Platoon leader in the 82nd Airborne Division after graduating as a Distinguished Military Student from The Citadel in 1970. After completing Special Forces training, he was deployed to the Republic of Vietnam, serving as a “One Zero,” (reconnaissance team leader) for RT Idaho and RT Sidewinder in MACV-Studies and Observations Group (SOG) Combat and Control North. He later served as an advisor to the Cambodian Infantry Battalions in the US Army Vietnam Individual Training Group (UITG)/Forces Armee Nationale Khmer (FANK) training program. As an A-Team executive officer and commander, he trained, advised, and conducted combat operations with Cambodian troops. He returned to Cambodia in 1974, this time assigned to the Military Equipment Delivery Team Cambodia, after serving as ODA Commander of a HALO and SADM team in Company A, 3rd Battalion, 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne)(5th SFG(A)) at Fort Bragg, NC. He remained in Cambodia until the fall of the Khmer Republic in April, 1975.
Between 1977 and 1983, his assignments included the Central Intelligence Agency, company commander in the 4th Infantry Division, Ft. Carson, Colorado, and with the 2d Battalion (Ranger), 75th Infantry at Ft. Lewis Washington. During the period 1983-1988, he served with the Joint Special Operations Command and deployed in the initial assault of Grenada in Operation Urgent Fury.
Assuming command of the 2d Battalion, 5th SFG(A) in 1988, he was responsible for a landmark US de-mining program in Afghanistan. Procedures that he developed for Operation Salam were later adopted by the United Nations as a standard for that region. Later, as commander of the 5th SFG(A), his Group supported and participated in Special Operations combat and humanitarian missions in Somalia during the period 1992-1993; conducted border surveillance and coalition warfare missions in Kuwait; and, were part of multiple regional engagement missions to include unit assessments and training programs throughout Southwest Asia and Africa.
During the period November 1993-January 1996, he served as the Commanding General, Special Operations Command South, U.S. Southern Command where he was involved in counter-narcotic as well as humanitarian relief operations in Central and South America. The multi-national peace-keeping Joint Task Force formed under his watch during the PeruEcuador War is credited with stopping the conflict.
In May 1996, General Bowra assumed command of the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne) at Ft. Bragg, NC. One of his proudest accomplishments is the publication of the first “Human Rights” Policy which provided specific guidance and responsibilities critical for deployed Special Forces Soldiers. In March 1998, he assumed command of the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School.
In March 2000, he was selected to serve as the Deputy Commander of NATO’s Headquarters, Kosovo Forces (KFOR). Responsible for oversight of all KFOR operations which included the employment of Russian forces as well as supporting the staging of Kosovo’s first-ever municipal elections. In January 2001, he was assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff, Allied Forces Northern Europe, NATO, and as Senior U.S. Military Representative in the Netherlands. Major General Bowra retired from the U.S. Army with over 33 years of service on 1 October 2003.
His awards and decorations include: Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal (3), Bronze Star with Valor Device and (2) Oak leaf clusters, Purple Heart, Legion of Merit (2), Meritorious Service Medal (3), Air Medal, Joint Service Commendation medal (3), Army Commendation Medal (3), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (3), Vietnam Service Medal (3), Kosovo Campaign Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Humanitarian Service Medal (3), National Defense Service Medal (3), North Atlantic Treaty Organization Medal for Kosovo, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Khmer Republic National Defense Medal with bronze and silver stars, Presidential Unit Citation, Joint Meritorious Unit Award (3), Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation (2), Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert
Infantryman Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Military Free Fall Jumpmaster Badge, Ranger Tab, Special Forces Tab, Pathfinder Badge, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Ribbon (3), and multiple foreign parachutist awards. Major General (Ret) Bowra now serves a senior diplomat in the Department of State and is assigned to the American Embassy, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.