As community commander, Brig. Gen. John M. Shalikashvili is the equivalent of mayor for 20,000 American soldiers and dependents in Nuremberg, West Germany. He deals with the spectrum of military problems. He fought in Vietnam and held other command posts in Germany in the 1970s.

''As a soldier, Vietnam brought me a great deal of frustration. You don't like to see the institution you are a part of suffer as it did. . . . The Army as an institution went through a period of self-doubt, reevaluation of the practices we used there, such as assignments, how one really fights the war, how one expands without destroying the noncommissioned officer corps as we did. . . .

''We were unraveling. The thing that keeps our Army together is the noncommisioned officer corps. We are so stuctured, and out procedures are so set up, that the Army needs a strong, positive noncommissioned-officer corps. When you unravel that, you can't replace it with inexperienced second lieutenants or with youngsters who might have been handed the reins of a sergeant but in experience and maturity are still privates.''

''. . . If you are not prepared to go into combat in the best possible posture, then you stand up and raise your hand and say that something else has to be tried. If going into combat means you must do away with the glue, the NCO corps, which holds us together, then you better have serious second thoughts (about going).'' Gen. John A. Wickham Jr. was seriously wounded in Vietnam and became Army chief of staff June 22, 1983.

''There is an element of the disaster in Vietnam extant in all of us. I almost lost my life in Vietnam. I spent five months in the hospital. I'm reminded of that every day.

''There is a haunting element there that troubles us in the military. . . . Many of the senior leaders in the Army see the Vietnam effort as a cipher -- we spent all that effort, and nothing came out of it. . . . That's what I'm talking about when I say we need to define our goals clearly when it comes to the use of force so there won't be any more ciphers.

''That's the macro. . . .

''On the micro level, I think we've overcome the problems, like the ticket-punching (including rotation of battalion commanders every six months so a maximum number of officers would have field command experience).

''Self confidence has been restored. . . . Public esteem for the military is up. Soldiers see that when they go through bus stations, I hear that. . . .

''Lee that 10 percent of the Rangers in Grenada had ever heard a shot fired in anger. . . .

''The Vietnam experience is going, and going with it are the anxieties and haunting uncertainties. . . .

''I think the Vietnam Memorial here and the burial of the Unknown Soldier put a lot of it behind us. . . .''

Army Secretary John O. Marsh Jr. was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant at ae 19, served with occupation forces in Germany after Would War II and was on active duty for a month as a National Guard major in 1966, when he was Democratic representative of Virginia's 7th Congressional District.

''The Army, because it became such a focal point of the national effort in Vietnam, assumed a vicarious guilt. The was indeserved because the Army performed magnificently there. It was never defeated in the field. The heroism of its soldiers there, their sacrifice and dedication -- it was a great monument to how they caried out the orders and dirextives of this country. . . .'' Charles C. Moskos, professor of sociology at Northwestern University, has conducted extensive research on the U.S. military, particularly the Army.

''The Vietnam war didn't do all that much for the Army except it ended the draft. . . . things aren't really all that much different now in terms of its internal organization, its promotion systems. It's all very much the same. . . .

''It's generally bad news that we got rid of the draft. . . .

Economic man has replaced the citizen soldier. . . .'' Col. Harry G. Summers Jr., Vietnam veteran, holds the Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur Chair of Military Research at the Army War College and has made in-depth studies of the war. His books include ''On Strategy'' and ''Vietnam War Almanac.''

''IN 1966 and 1967, we had the finest Army the United States ever put in the field . . . . But the successes at the tactical level weren't being reflected at the strategic level. Things just didn't seem to be clicking . . . . By the late 1960s and early 1970s, it became obvious the the fighting was to no avail . . . . We just weren't pulling it off, and the loss of public support exacerbated the feeling that it was all for nothing.

''So there was a great crisis in confidence . . . . Our confidence already had been sapped by the nuclear age, which brought the idea that maybe conventional forces had no value in this modern world. . . .

''The Army reaction, at least by Gen. William C. Westmoreland chief of staff from 1968 to 1972 after serving as Vietnam field commander was to deal with the surface symptoms. We went into such things as the modern volunteer Army thing to placate the dissent instead of dealing with it . . . . In retrospect, that just made it worse. . . .''

Gen. Creighton W. Abrams, who succeeded Westmoreland as field commander and chief of staff, responded to this loss of confidence by appointing a study group ''to examine the basic question: Is there a need for an Army in the world today?

''I was part of that study group . . . . What we got out of our look at Southeast Asia was that our interests there were minimum, that our main interests were the security of the United States, first, and then Western Europe . . . . This took the focus off Vietnam and put the focus back on Europe and the need for conventional forces . . . . Our conclusion was that we were doing rather well there . . . . This had the effect of reemphasizing success rather than dwelling on failure in Vietnam .

''The positive side of the Vietnam experience was to put the Army back in touch with its roots again by reaffirming that the uses of land power were still as valid as they ever were . . . .''