Starry served two tours in Vietnam during that war. During his second tour he commanded the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment as a colonel, leading it during the 1970 Cambodia incursion, Operation toan thang 43. Following Vietnam, he commanded the Armor School at Fort Knox, Kentucky, as a major general. There he wrote the influential monograph Mounted Combat in Vietnam, part of a series of official U.S. Army studies. He then commanded V Corps in Germany as a lieutenant general. In 1977 he was promoted to full general and succeeded General William E. DePuy as the second commanding general of the Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). With the possible exception of DePuy, Starry was the most influential commander of TRADOC. Seizing upon the deep internal debate and controversy surrounding the 1976 edition of FM 100–5 Operation and DePuy's concept of Active Defense, Starry presided over and personally directed the development of AirLand Battle doctrine and the long overdue recognition by the U.S. military of the Operational Level of War. Based heavily on classic German concepts of rapidly moving war-fighting, AirLand Battle became the doctrine with which the U.S. Army fought both Gulf Wars. While he was TRADOC commander, Starry also introduced the concept of sergeants' business, which became a critical tool in rebuilding the noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps that had been decimated by Vietnam.
Starry retired from the army in 1983. His last assignment was commanding general of the U.S. Army Readiness Command. He is one of a handful of key officers who rebuilt the U.S. Army in the decade following the Vietnam War into a genuine threat to the Soviet Army and the Warsaw Pact.
David T. Zabecki
Romjue, John L. From Active Defense to AirLand Battle: The Development of Army Doctrine, 1973–1982. Fort Monroe, VA: United States Army Training and Doctrine Command, 1984.; Starry, Donn A. Mounted Combat in Vietnam. Washington, DC: Department of the Army, 1978.; Starry, Donn A., and George F. Hofmann, eds. From Camp Colt to Desert Storm: The History of the U.S. Armored Forces. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999.