Bradley, Omar N.

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Bradley, Omar N. (1893–1981), World War II commander and first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).Born in Clark, Missouri, and graduating from West Point, Bradley served in World War I, then spent most of the interwar years as student or instructor. In 1942, he trained the 28th and 82nd Divisions and took combat command in spring 1943 of II Corps in the North Africa campaign and the subsequent invasion of Sicily. Bradley led the First Army in the invasion of Normandy and on 1 August 1944 took charge of 12th Army Group, which by V‐E Day included four U.S. armies with forty‐three divisions. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower rated Bradley as a battle‐line commander without peer, but controversies continue about his approval of close‐in carpet bombing to facilitate the breakout at St. Lô in Normandy; his failure to close the Falaise‐Argentan gap; his advocacy of a broad‐front approach to the battle for Germany; his failure to foresee the Germans' surprise counteroffensive in the Battle of the Bulge; as well as his tense relations with the British field marshal, Bernard Law Montgomery.

Bradley served as head of the Veterans Administration (1945–47), then became army chief of staff in February 1948, and served as first permanent chairman of the JCS (1949–53). He was made four‐star General of the Army in September 1950. As JCS chairman, Bradley supported President Harry S. Truman's rejection of the navy's supercarrier in 1949 and helped oversee the Cold War defense buildup after 1950. In the Korean War, Bradley recommended sending troops to oppose North Korea's invasion in 1950, favored confining hostilities after the Chinese intervention in November, and supported Truman's decision to relieve Gen. Douglas MacArthur in 1951. Speaking for the JCS that year, he testified that the Soviet Union posed the main threat and that conflict with China—which MacArthur seemed willing to widen—would be “the wrong war, at the wrong place, at the wrong time, and with the wrong enemy.” Bradley retired in 1953; he died in 1981.
[See also World War II: Military and Diplomatic Course.]

Walter S. Poole