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Powell, Colin 1937-

Colin Powell 1937-

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

At a Glance

Gained Political Experience

Named Chairman of Joint Chiefs

Oversaw War in the Middle East

Future Plans

Sources

Already highly regarded by political and military leaders in the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon, U.S. Army General Colin Powell achieved national and international prominence in 1990 and 1991 as one of the key leaders of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the military campaigns to protect Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait from Iraqi control. Powell, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, heads up the Pentagon and serves as the presidents top military adviser, placing him among the most powerful policy makers in the world.

During the Persian Gulf War, he was credited with skillfully balancing the political objectives of President George Bush and the strategy needs of General Norman Schwarzkopf and other military commanders in the field. Because of his leadership during the war and his experience as an insider in the Washington bureaucracy, Powell has been suggested by analysts as a promising candidate for future political office, either as vice-president or president.

Colin Luther Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, the son of Jamaican immigrants who had both gone to work In New York Citys garment district. The young Powell grew up in the South Bronx, where he enjoyed a secure childhood, looked after by a closely knit family and a multi-ethnic community. He graduated from Morris High School In 1954 and received his B.A. in geology from the City College of New York in 1958. He was undistinguished as a student, but he excelled in the colleges Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corps, cadet colonel. He was not West Point trained, but his achievements in the ROTC won him a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

His first assignment for the U.S. Army was at the Fulda Gap in West Germany, where American and allied troops stood as an obstacle on the Soviet blocs most likely invasion route of Western Europe. In the 1960s, Powell served two tours of duty in South Vietnam. As an adviser to South Vietnamese troops, he was wounded in 1963 when he fell victim to a Vietcong booby trap. His second tour, from 1968 to 1969, as an Army Infantry officer, also ended when Powell was injured, this time in a helicopter crash from which he rescued two of his

At a Glance

Full name, Colin Luther Powell; born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, NY; son of Luther (a shipping clerk) and Maud Ariel (a seamstress; maiden name, McKoy) Powell; married Alma Vivian Johnson (a speech pathologist), August 25, 1962; children: Michael, Linda, Annemarie. Education: City College of the City University of New York, B.S., 1958; George Washington University, M.B.A., 1971; graduate of the National War College, 1976. Religion: Episcopalian.

U.S. Army career officer, 1958; commissioned second lieutenant, 1958, promoted to general, 1989. Served in West Germany, beginning 1958, and in the U.S.; served in Vietnam as a military adviser, 1962-63, and as battalion executive officer and division operations officer, 1968-69, and in South Korea as battalion commander, 1973; commander of the Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY, 1976-77; assistant commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, Fort Carson, CO, 1981-83; deputy commander of Fort Leavenworth, KS, 1983; commanding general of the Fifth Corps, Frankfurt, West Germany, 1986-87; commander-in-chief of the U.S. Forces Command at Fort McPherson, GA, 1989; chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Washington, D.C., 1989.

Assistant to the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, 1972-73; executive assistant to the secretary of energy, 1979; senior military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense, 1979-81; military assistant to the secretary of defense, 1983-86; deputy assistant for the assistant to the President for national security affairs, 1987; assistant to the President for national security affairs, 1987-89.

Awards: Military honors, including the Purple Heart and Bronze Star, both 1963, and the Legion of Merit, 1972.

Addresses: Home Fort Myers, VA. Office Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, The Pentagon, Room 2E-857, Washington, DC 20318.

fellow soldiers. For his valor in Vietnam, he received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a Soldiers Medal, and the Legion of Merit.

Gained Political Experience

Back on the home front, Powell pursued an M.B.A. at George Washington University. After completing his graduate studies in 1971, he was awarded a prestigious White House fellowship, which gave him the opportunity to get his first taste of politics. From 1972 to 1973, he worked for Frank Carlucci, then Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Caspar Weinberger. It was the beginning of Powells education in the dynamics of the Washington bureaucracy. Over the next 15 years he returned to the political arena from time to time to continue that education.

From 1979 to 1981, Powell served the Carter administration as an executive assistant to Charles Duncan, Jr., the Secretary of Energy, and as senior military assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. When the Reagan administration came to Washington, Powell worked with Carlucci on the Defense Departments transition team, and then from 1983 to 1986 he joined Weinberger again, this time as military assistant to the Defense Secretary. While there, Powell contributed to the departments involvement in the invasion of Grenada and the bombing raid on Libya.

Between stints in the political arena, Powell continued to advance his military career. In 1973, he travelled to South Korea to take command of a battalion and then a year later he returned to Washington as a staff officer at the Pentagon. He completed his military education at the National War College in 1976 and took command of the Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, that same year. In the early 1980s, he completed assignments as the assistant commander of the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, and as the deputy director at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was in West Germany again in 1987, this time as commanding general of the Fifth Corps in Frankfurt, when he was called back to Washington to work again with Frank Carlucci, the new National Security Adviser.

Carlucci had been chosen to head the troubled National Security Council in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra scandal. Powell was not a stranger to the NSCs dealings under Admiral John Poindexter and Oliver North; he had first confronted the issue of arms sales to Iran while working under Weinberger at the Defense Department. Yet, even though he had been aware of the covert activities, he was able to remain above reproach because he had always acted according to law and had not become involved until after presidential approval had been given.

Together Carlucci and Powell reorganized the NSC to reduce the possibility for free lance foreign policy. When in 1987 Carlucci took over as Secretary of Defense for the departing Weinberger, Powell was called upon to take over leadership of the NSC. The move earned widespread approval in Washington because, as Fred Barnes wrote in the New Republic, Powell is a national security adviser strong enough to settle policy disputes but without a personal agenda.

During his tenure at the NSC, Powell did speak out on a number of issues he felt were important to national security, including economic strength, control of technology exchanges, protection of the environment, a stable defense budget, free trade and foreign investment, research and development, and education. He also expressed his opposition to plans for the overthrow of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and to heavy spending on the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). Even so, as he told Barnes, I' principally a broker. I have strong views on things, but my job is to make sure the president gets the best information available to make an informed decision.

Named Chairman of Joint Chiefs

In 1989, President Bush rewarded Powell for the knowledge and skills he had acquired in the military and political arenas by naming him to the militarys top post, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the youngest man and first black to hold that position. Said the president of Powell: As we face the challenges of the 90s, it is most important that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff be a person of breadth, judgment, experience, and total integrity. Colin Powell has all those qualities and more. In peacetime, the chairmans responsibilities have included overseeing the prioritization of Pentagon spending and keeping the channels of communication open between the military and the White House. They have also included drawing up plans for military action, first in Panama and then in the Middle East.

Because of a 1986 law redefining his role and because George Bush has the utmost trust in Powell, the general has more influence than any Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since World War II. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, obliged Powell to exercise that authority. The day after the invasion, Powell advised the president that a number of options were open, including economic and diplomatic sanctions, as well as the use of military force; the Bush administration decided that decisive force was the necessary response. Operation Desert Shield, requiring the massive movement of troops and supplies to Saudi Arabia, was soon initiated as a show of force and to serve as a deterrent to further Iraqi aggression. After touring the Middle East, the general recommended increasing the number of troops to assure the success of an isolate and destroy strategy if it proved necessary. He told U.S. News and World Report: You in win, and you go in to win decisively.

Oversaw War in the Middle East

In the early stages of the operation, Powell again demonstrated his ability to manage people and bureaucracies. As European and Middle Eastern troops joined in a coalition against Iraq, Powell directed the quick integration of communications, operations, and authority into a command network under the direction of General Norman Schwarzkopf. During the planning of the air and land campaigns, he aided the president in making political decisions and kept him informed of military plans, but he also convinced the Washington warriors to leave the commanders in Saudi Arabia the space needed to carry out their missions.

He, too, avoided involvement in the minute details of day-to-day operations, exerting his authority only on major issues. He oversaw bombing missions on Baghdad only after the destruction of a suburban Baghdad bunker killed 400 civilians. He rejected Marine requests to launch a true amphibious assault on Kuwait instead of the feint scheduled to aid Schwarzkopfs encirclement of Kuwait by an end run through Iraq. He also convinced President Bush to respond to the February 21 Iraqi peace proposal with an ultimatum: the Iraqis must pull out of Kuwait by noon Washington time, February 23. When the deadline passed, the coalition began its land campaign later that night as scheduled.

With the success of Operation Desert Storm, Powell has been placed in the spotlight of media and public attention. Criticism of him by black leaders who label him a servant of the white Establishment and by peace activists who see him as a trigger-happy hawk has been tempered by praise of him as a positive role model for young blacks and as a committed defender of liberty.

Future Plans

Powell has met with Vice-President Dan Quayle to assure him that the general has no designs on the nations number two executive post. He has also requested a second tour as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bruce B. Auster reported in U.S. News and World Report: Powell is able to transfer his unquestioned personal integrity to the institution he leads in part because, while he wields more power than almost any of his Pentagon predecessors, he is not addicted to it.

As a black military leader, Powell has demonstrated his commitment to helping young black men and women succeed in the armed services. He has long contended that the military should not be criticized for putting a disproportionate number of young black men and women in harms way, but rather praised and imitated for its history of providing opportunities to minorities. Marshall Brown quotes Powell in a profile in Black Enterprise: What we are dealing with now is a changing of hearts, changing of perspectives and of minds. We need to start to erase the cultural filter with respect to minorities.

As a soldier, Powell has demonstrated a firm commitment to protecting his country and securing a world where democratic values can flourish. He said in a March 1990 speech before the Town Hall of California: I believe that as long as America leads the Free World, there will be no dominating state or region. And the proper safeguards are the same safeguards that have secured the Free Worlds liberties for over four decadesour strong values, our resilient democracies, our vibrant market economics, our strong alliances, and, yes, our proud and ready armed forces.

Sources

Black Enterprise, October 1989.

Ebony, July 1988.

Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1991.

New Republic, May 30, 1988.

Newsweek, August 21, 1989; March 18, 1990.

New York Times, October 15, 1987; September 16, 1988; December 2, 1988; August 15, 1989.

Times November 16, 1987; August 21, 1989.

U.S. News and World Report, April 25, 1988; December 24, 1990; February 4, 1991; March 18, 1991.

Washington Post, March 23, 1987; August 7, 1988; August 10, 1989; August 11, 1989.

Bryan Ryan

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Colin Luther Powell

Colin Luther Powell

American Army officer Colin Luther Powell (born 1937) served as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, and under President George Bush became the first African American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-1993).

Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem, New York City on April 5, 1937, the son of a shipping clerk and a seamstress, both of whom were immigrants from Jamaica. Powell spent most of his childhood in the South Bronx, then regarded as a step up from Harlem. Despite the urgings of his parents that he should "strive for a good education" in order to "make something" of his life, Powell remained an ordinary student throughout high school. At City College of New York, Powell discovered himself; his retentive mind and leadership abilities made him a conspicuous success in the Army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). He graduated from the program in 1958 with the rank of cadet colonel, the highest awarded, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. He was then assigned to duty in West Germany. In 1962, while stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Powell met and married Alma Vivian Johnson. The couple had three children.

Powell's next overseas assignment was in South Vietnam, where he was wounded in action. He then studied at the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, finishing second in a class of more than twelve hundred officers. During a second tour in Vietnam he received the Soldier's Medal for pulling several men from a burning helicopter.

The army then provided Powell the time to study for a Master's degree in business administration at George Washington University. He received the degree in 1971, after which he worked as an analyst at the Pentagon before securing what he called a "dream job": an appointment as a prestigious White House fellow in the Office of Management and Budget under the director, Caspar Weinberger, and his deputy, Frank Carlucci, two men of rising influence in Washington who perceived Powell's uncommon abilities and who would help shape his career.

A man of commanding presence at six feet one inch and 200 pounds, Powell was assigned to South Korea in 1973 to command a battalion troubled by racial animosities. "I threw the bums out of the army and put the drug users in jail, " he recalled. "The rest, we ran four miles every morning, and by night they were too tired to get into trouble." Powell's prescription worked, and the tensions that had led to race riots before his arrival abated.

After additional service in Washington and an assignment as a brigade commander in the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, Powell returned to Washington in the late 1970s, attaining the rank of major general and holding advisory posts in the Pentagon and briefly in the Department of Energy. He next served at Fort Carson, Colorado, and at Fort Leavenworth before becoming military assistant to Weinberger, then secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, in 1983. While Powell was assisting Weinberger, the National Security Council (NSC) began looking at the possibility of sending American missiles to Iran in the hope of expediting the release of American hostages in the Middle East and turned to Powell to provide certain information about the missiles desired by Iran. Powell complied but subsequently questioned the scheme in writing, reminding the NSC leadership that there was a legal obligation to inform Congress of the proposed arms transfer. When it was pointed out that the plan had presidential authorization, Powell did what was requested of him. The illegal missile transfer was later exposed as a key element in the controversial Iran-Contra scandal. Powell's demonstrated record of opposition to the illegality of the transfer and his excellent demeanor in testifying before congressional investigating committees served him well. In June 1986 Powell received a choice corps command in West Germany but left it after six months at President Reagan's request to become Frank Carlucci's deputy on the National Security Council. Carlucci was endeavoring to rebuild the NSC after the Iran-Contra debacle.

In 1987 Powell replaced Carlucci as national security adviser, a post he held for the duration of the Reagan administration. Arms control and attempts to topple the Sandanista government of Nicaragua ranked high on the agendas of Powell and of other key policy-makers during this period. When President-elect George Bush advised Powell that he wished to name his own national security adviser, Powell could have chosen to leave the army to earn a substantial income on the lecture circuit or perhaps in the business world. Money, however, was not sufficient inducement for Powell to retire; promoted to full (four star) general, he took over the army's Forces Command, which had responsibility for overseeing the readiness of over a million regular, reserve, and National Guard personnel based in the United States. Selected over three dozen more senior generals, Powell was nominated by President Bush in 1989 to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the nation's most prestigious military position. Powell was the first black officer to hold this post.

As chairman of the JCS, Powell held a key role in formulating and refining plans for the December 1989 operation that eliminated the corrupt Manuel Noriega regime in Panama. Television appearances in which Powell explained the purpose of the operation brought him to the favorable attention of the American public. "In a performance that left politicians and viewers marveling, " observed a Wall Street Journal reporter, "he laid out the details in tough but carefully measured tones that may have done more than anything else to reassure lawmakers and the public about the predawn invasion."

Powell became similarly conspicuous during the first stages of Operation Desert Shield, the joint effort by the United States and several other nations through blockade and the mobilization of substantial forces in and near Saudi Arabia to pressure Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein into removing his forces from neighboring Kuwait. This small, oilrich nation had been occupied by Iraqi troops in August 1990. It soon became apparent that this operation, unlike the earlier one in Panama, would take months to decide and involved the risk of substantial casualties if and when hostilities broke out between the Iraqis and the international forces, the bulk of them American. It was thus uncertain whether Powell's largely unblemished record for excellent judgment and leadership would remain intact.

When Desert Shield turned into Desert Storm on January 16, 1991, Powell again demonstrated his successful leadership. Six weeks later the Iraqi army was crushed; the multinational forces stood completely victorious. For his part in this Persian Gulf War, General Powell, as well as field commander General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, was awarded a congressional gold medal.

When Powell was named to head the JCS, a former White House colleague remarked of his appointment: "No one ever thinks of Colin as being Black; they think of him as being good." Powell, however, never ignored his background in New York City or the prejudice he encountered in the 1960s when off base at various army posts in the South, "I've made myself very accessible to the Black press, " he once told an Ebony reporter, "and I do that as a way of just showing people, 'Hey, look at that dude. He came out of the South Bronx. If he got out, why can't I." Powell believed that his position as the nation's foremost military leader and spokesman provided a unique opportunity to deliver a positive message to African American youth.

As the youngest man to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Powell would have ample opportunity to accomplish even more should he choose to remain in public service. His name had even been mentioned in connection with the vice presidency by both liberals and conservatives.

Powell remains an active figure in government. During the 1996 presidential race, it was announced that Powell would run. He declined, citing various reasons. The withdrawal was disappointing to many Americans. Powell spends his time lecturing, writing and speaking.

Further Reading

In the absence of a full biography of Colin Powell, those seeking further information can consult several articles about him, including Simeon Booker, "Colin L. Powell: Black General at the Summit of U.S. Power" in Ebony (July 1988); Thomas M. DeFrank, "The Ultimate No. 2' for NSC" in Newsweek (November 16, 1987); Carl T. Rowan, "Called to Service: The Colin Powell Story" in Reader's Digest (December 1989); Marshall Brown, "Powell Reaches the Pinnacle of Pentagon Power" in Black Enterprise (October 1989); Barrett Seaman with Dan Goodgame, "A 'Complete Soldier' Makes It" in Time (August 21, 1989); Lou Cannon, "Antidote Ollie North" in Washington Post Magazine (August 7, 1988); and Laura B. Randolph, "Gen. Colin L. Powell: The World's Most Powerful Soldier" in Ebony (February 1990). Information regarding Powell's political career can be read in an article by J.F.O. Mcallister entitled "The Candidate of Dreams" Time (March 13, 1995). □

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Powell, Colin

Colin Powell

Born: April 5, 1937
New York, New York

African American soldier, military official, and secretary of state

During Colin Powell's long and impressive military and government career, he has served in some of the country's highest positions, including chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. When President George W. Bush (1946) chose Powell for the job of secretary of state, he became the first African American to ever serve in this position.

A young soldier

Colin Luther Powell was born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York, New York, on April 5, 1937. His parents were immigrants from Jamaica. He spent most of his childhood in the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City, which was then regarded as a step up from Harlem. The neighborhood included white, African American, and Puerto Rican residents. Powell has said that he never thought of himself as a "minority" while a child.

Despite his parents' urgings that he should "strive for a good education" in order to "make something" of his life, Powell remained an ordinary student throughout high school. At City College of New York, however, Powell discovered his leadership skills after joining the army's Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). He graduated from the program in 1958 and was made a second lieutenant (an army officer who is below all other officers) in the U.S. Army. He was then assigned to duty in West Germany. In 1962 he met and married Alma Vivian Johnson, with whom he eventually had three children.

Powell's next overseas assignment was in South Vietnam. At the time the United States was involved in the Vietnam War (195575; a civil war in which anti-Communist forces in South Vietnam, supported by the United States, were fighting against a takeover by Communist forces in North Vietnam). During his first tour of duty in Vietnam (196263), Powell was wounded in action. He returned for a second tour (196869) and received the Soldier's Medal for pulling several men from a burning helicopter.

Working in Washington

After his second tour in Vietnam, Powell returned to the United States and studied for a master's degree in business administration at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He received the degree in 1971, then went to work at the Pentagon, the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense and military services. He then moved on to a position in the Office of Management and Budget under the director, Caspar Weinberger (1917), and his deputy, Frank Carlucci (1930). These two men were to have a major influence on Powell's career.

In the late 1970s, Powell attained the rank of major general (an army officer who is above a brigadier general) and held positions in the Pentagon and Department of Energy. In 1983 he became a military assistant to Weinberger, who was then the secretary of defense under President Ronald Reagan (1911). While Powell was assisting Weinberger, his advice was sought by the National Security Council (NSC), the agency within the executive branch that advises the president on affairs relating to national security. The NSC wanted to make a secret sale of weapons to Iran in the belief that it would help to free American hostages that were being held in Lebanon by terrorist groups supporting Iran. Powell advised the NSC that the sale was illegal. His opposition helped to establish a reputation for having strong moral character that later served him well and that kept him from being harmed when the NSC's illegal arms deal was eventually exposed.

In 1986 Powell was asked by President Reagan to become Frank Carlucci's deputy on the NSC. He replaced Carlucci as national security adviser (head of the NSC) in 1987 and held the post for the rest of the Reagan administration. Arms control and attempts to overthrow the socialist government of Nicaragua were high priorities for Powell and other policy-makers during this period.

Heading the Joint Chiefs of Staff

When President-elect George Bush (1924) told Powell that he wished to name a new national security adviser, Powell could have chosen to leave the army to earn a substantial income giving lectures or consulting in the business world. However, Powell did not retire. Instead, having been promoted to full general (an army officer who is above a lieutenant general), he took over the army's Forces Command. In this position he was responsible for overseeing the readiness of over a million regular, reserve, and National Guard personnel in the United States. Powell took on more responsibility when he was nominated by President Bush in 1989 to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS; the group that is responsible for giving military information and advice to the president, the secretary of defense, and the National Security Council). Powell was the first black officer to hold this post.

As chairman of the JCS, Powell played a key role in the December 1989 American military invasion of Panama to unseat that country's military leader, Manuel Noriega (1938). Earlier in 1989, Noriega, who had been in control of the Panamanian government since 1983, had cancelled presidential elections. Noriega was also involved in the buying and selling of illegal drugs and other unlawful activities. The U.S. government overthrew Noriega in an effort to bring the leader to the United States to be tried on drug charges, to protect Americans, and to give the Panamanian people back their freedom. Television appearances in which Powell explained the purpose of the operation brought him to the favorable attention of the American public.

Powell was also highly visible during Operation Desert Shield. This was a joint effort by the United States and several other nations to pressure Saddam Hussein (1937), the president of the Middle Eastern nation Iraq, into removing his forces from the neighboring country of Kuwait. Iraq had occupied Kuwait in August 1990. It soon became apparent that this operation, unlike the one in Panama, would take months to decide and involved the risk of high casualties (deaths of soldiers) if war broke out between the Iraqis and the international forces.

Operation Desert Shield turned into Operation Desert Storm on January 16, 1991, beginning the six-week conflict that was known as the Persian Gulf War. Powell again demonstrated his leadership during this time, and the Iraqi army was swiftly crushed. For his part in this war, Powell was awarded a Congressional gold medal.

Secretary of State

After Powell retired from the military in 1993, he was often mentioned as a potential candidate for president. While many hoped that he would run for president in 1996, he announced in 1995 that he would not do so. Instead, Powell supported George W. Bush in the campaign that led to Bush's election in 2000. On December 16, 2000, Bush announced that he would name Powell as his secretary of state, the nation's top foreign policy position. Powell was the first African American named to this post.

On September 11, 2001, anti-American terrorists crashed jet planes into the Pentagon and into the two towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. The attack killed thousands and led Bush to declare that the United States would pursue a "war on terrorism." The Bush administration's efforts concentrated initially on targets in Afghanistan, and Powell's greatest challenge was to build support for the American "war" among Arab and Muslim governments. As the effort to stamp out terrorism continued, Powell was perceived as a force for moderation in the Bush government, pushing for the building of alliances and for restraint when others argued for more aggressive military action.

For More Information

Banta, Melissa. Colin Powell. New York: Chelsea House, 1995.

Finlayson, Reggie. Colin Powell. Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 1997.

Hughes, Libby. Colin Powell: A Man of Quality. Parsippany, NJ: Dillon Press, 1996.

Powell, Colin L., with Joseph E. Persico. My American Journey. New York: Random House, 1995.

Schraff, Anne. Colin Powell: Soldier and Patriot. Springfield, NJ: Enslow, 1997.

Wheeler, Jill C. Colin Powell. Edina, MN: Abdo Pub., 2002.

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Powell, Colin

Powell, Colin (1937–), twelfth chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).Born 5 April 1937 in the Harlem section of New York City and raised in the South Bronx, Colin L. Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants, rose to become the first African American chairman of the JCS. After his 1958 graduation from City College, New York, where he had been a member of the ROTC, Powell received a commission in the regular army.

As a young officer in the recently integrated army, he had opportunities for leadership not then generally available to blacks in segregated civilian society. He received accelerated promotions to major and colonel, and in 1979 became at forty‐two the youngest general then in the army.

A turning point in Powell's career was his 1972 selection as a White House Fellow. Assigned to the Office of Management and Budget, he learned firsthand the workings of the federal bureaucracy and met individuals who later played key roles in his career. He served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during both Democratic and Republican administrations, and in 1983 became military assistant to the secretary. Appointed President Ronald Reagan's deputy national security adviser in 1987, he soon became national security adviser.

Selected by President George Bush, Powell became chairman of the JCS on 1 October 1989. In addition to being the first African American, he was the first ROTC graduate and the youngest man to hold the position. Powell was also the first chairman to serve his entire tenure under the 1986 Goldwater‐Nichols Act that made the chairman, rather than the corporate chiefs, the nation's principal military adviser.

During his four years in office, Powell made full and unprecedented use of the chairman's enhanced authority. He directed the reorientation of U.S. military strategy at the end of the Cold War and introduced the concept of a “base force” that reduced the size of the armed forces while maintaining U.S. superpower status. He played a central role during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The army's experience in Vietnam, where he served two tours, profoundly affected Powell's approach to the use of military force. He advocated deploying U.S. forces in combat only for clear political objectives, and then applying overwhelming force to achieve quick victory.

Powell's active exercise of the chairman's authority greatly strengthened the position. As a result, his tenure became the subject of press and scholarly debate about the proper role of the military in policy formulation.
[See also African Americans in the Military.]

Bibliography

Colin L. Powell with and Joseph E. Persico , My American Journey, 1995.

Lorna S. Jaffe

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Powell, Colin Luther

Colin Luther Powell, 1937–, U.S. army general and government official, b. New York City, grad., City College (B.S., 1958); George Washington Univ. (M.A., 1969). The son of Jamaican immigrants, Powell was the first African American and the youngest person to chair (1989–93) the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the first African American to serve (2001–5) as secretary of state. He entered the U.S. army (1958) as a commissioned officer and served two tours of duty (1962–63, 1968–69) during the Vietnam War. In the 1970s he worked in several staff positions in the White House, including in the Office of Management and Budget, and also served in military command positions. In 1979 he was made a major general and the military assistant to the deputy secretary of defense, a position he held until 1981, when he assumed command of the 4th Infantry Division. From 1983 to 1986 Powell was military assistant to the secretary of defense, and in 1986 he served as commander of the V Corps in Western Europe. The next year he was named assistant to the president for national security affairs.

In 1989, Powell was promoted to four-star general, becoming the first African American to hold that rank, and was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had an important role in planning the American invasion of Panama in late 1989, and prior to the Persian Gulf War (1991) he played a crucial role in planning and coordinating the victory of U.S. and allied forces. He declined to run for the U.S. presidency in 1995, despite widespread encouragement to do so, and in 1997 became chairman of America's Promise–the Alliance for Youth, a charitable organization formed to help needy and at-risk U.S. children. Powell was appointed secretary of state by President George W. Bush in 2001. He advocated the so-called Powell doctrine—that U.S. military power only be used in overwhelming strength to achieve well-defined strategic national interests—while promoting "a uniquely American internationalism," and he also showed a particular interest in African affairs. As secretary of state, however, his influence on foreign policy issues was not as great as that of National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice (who succeeded him in 2005), Vice President Dick Cheney, and others. Powell was subsequently publicly critical of a number of administration policies, such as the Guantánamo military prison.

See his autobiography (1995, with J. E. Persico); biography by K. DeYoung (2006); J. Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2004).

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Powell, Colin Luther

Powell, Colin Luther (1937– ) US statesman and general, secretary of state (2001– ). He fought in the Vietnam War, and acted as national security adviser to Ronald Reagan (1987–89). In 1989, aged 52, Powell became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–93), the youngest man and first African American to hold the highest ranking post in the US military. Powell and General Norman Schwarzkopf were the leading architects of the Allies' successful strategy in the Gulf War (1991) against Iraq. Appointed secretary of state by President George W. Bush, he was the first black American to hold such a prestigious political office.

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Powell, Colin L(uther) 1937–

Colin L(uther) Powell 1937

Government official, army general

Served in Vietnam

Began Working for National Security Council

Appointed Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Thrown Into the Spotlight

Americas Promise

Secretary of State

Sources

Already highly regarded by political and military leaders in the White House, Congress, and the Pentagon, U.S. Army General Colin Powell first achieved national and international prominence in 1990 and 1991. Powell, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was one of the key leaders of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, the military campaigns to protect Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait from Iraqi control. During the Persian Gulf War, he was credited with skillfully balancing the political objectives of President George Bush and the strategy needs of General Norman Schwarzkopf and other military commanders in the field.

After the war in the Gulf, Powell was considered for the vice-presidency or even the presidency, but he resisted suggestions that he should run for Americas highest office. However, when George W. Bush was elected president in 2000, Powell did not decline Bushs request that the retired general take on the position of Secretary of State. So, when the Bush administration took office in January of 2001, Powell became the first African-American Secretary of State in U.S. history.

Colin Luther Powell was born in 1937 in Harlem, the son of Jamaican immigrants who had both gone to work in New York Citys garment district. The young Powell grew up in the South Bronx, where he enjoyed a secure childhood, looked after by a closely knit family and a multi-ethnic community. He graduated from Morris High School in 1954 and received his B.A. in geology from the City College of New York in 1958. He was undistinguished as a student, but he excelled in the colleges Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC), leading the precision drill team and attaining the top rank offered by the corpscadet colonel. He was not West Point trained, but his achievements in the ROTC won him a commission as second lieutenant in the U.S. Army.

Served in Vietnam

His first assignment was at the Fulda Gap in West Germany, where American and allied troops stood as an obstacle on the Soviet Unions most likely invasion route of Western Europe. In the 1960s, Powell served two tours of duty in South Vietnam. As an adviser to South Vietnamese troops, he was wounded in 1963 when he fell victim to a Vietcong booby trap. His second tour, from 1968 to 1969, as an Army Infantry

At a Glance

Born April 5, 1937, In Harlem, NY; son of Luther (a shipping clerk) and Maud Ariel (a seamstress) Powell; married Alma Vivian Johnson (a speech pathologist), August 25, 1962; children: Michael, Linda, Annemarie. Education: City College of the City University of New York, B.S., 1958; George Washington University, M.B.A., 1971; National War College, 1976. Religion: Episcopalian.

Careen U.S. Army career officer, 1958-; commissioned second lieutenant, 1958; served in West Germany, beginning 1958, and in the United States at Fort Benning, GA and Fort Owens, MA; served in South Vietnam, as a military adviser, 1962-63, as a battalion executive officer and division operations officer, 1968-69; served in South Korea as a battalion commander, 1973; commander of the Second Brigade of the 101 st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, KY, 1976-77; assistant commander of the Fourth infantry Division, Fort Carson, CO, 1981-83; deputy commander, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 1983; commanding general of the Fifth Corps, Frankfurt, West Germany, 1986-87; promoted to the rank of general, 1989; commander-in-chief of the U.S. Forces Command, Fort McPherson, GA, 1989; chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., 1989-93; political appointments. Assistant to the Deputy Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1972-73; executive assistant to the Secretary of Energy, 1979; senior military assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, 1979-81; military assistant to the Secretary of Defense, 1983-86; deputy assistant for the Assistant to the President, National Security Affairs, 1987; Assistant to the President, National Security Affairs, 1987-89; Secretary of State, 2001-.

Awards: Several military honors, including Purple Heart, 1963, Bronze Star, 1963, Soldiers Medal, 1969, and Legion of Merit, 1972; White House fellow, 1972-73; Secretarys Award, 1988.

Addresses: Home Fort Myers VA. Office Secretary of State, White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D,C., 20500.

officer, also ended when Powell was injured, this time in a helicopter crash from which he rescued two of his fellow soldiers. For his valor in Vietnam, he received two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, a Soldiers Medal, and the Legion of Merit.

Back on the home front, Powell pursued an M.B.A. at George Washington University. After completing his graduate studies in 1971, he was awarded a prestigious White House fellowship, which gave him the opportunity to get his first taste of politics. From 1972 to 1973, he worked for Frank Carlucci, then-Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget under Caspar Weinberger. It was the beginning of Powells education in the dynamics of the Washington bureaucracy. Over the next 15 years he returned to the political arena from time to time to continue that education.

From 1979 to 1981, Powell served the Carter administration as an executive assistant to Charles Duncan, Jr., the Secretary of Energy, and as senior military assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. When the Reagan administration came to Washington, Powell worked with Carlucci on the Defense Departments transition team, and then from 1983 to 1986 he joined Weinberger again, this time as military assistant to the Defense Secretary. While there, Powell contributed to the departments involvement in the invasion of Grenada and the bombing raid on Libya.

Between stints in the political arena, Powell continued to advance his military career. In 1973, he traveled to South Korea to take command of a battalion and then a year later he returned to Washington as a staff officer at the Pentagon. He completed his military education at the National War College in 1976 and took command of the Second Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky that same year. In the early 1980s, he completed assignments as the assistant commander of the Fourth Infantry Division at Fort Carson, Colorado, and as the deputy director at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He was in West Germany again in 1987, this time as commanding general of the Fifth Corps in Frankfurt, when he was called back to Washington to work again with Frank Carlucci, the new National Security Adviser.

Began Working for National Security Council

Carlucci had been chosen to head the troubled National Security Council (NSC) in the aftermath of the Iran-Contra scandal. Powell was not a stranger to the NSCs dealings under Admiral John Poindexter and Oliver North; he had first confronted the issue of arms sales to Iran while working under Weinberger at the Defense Department. Yet, even though he had been aware of the covert activities, he remained above reproach because he had always acted according to law and had not become involved until after presidential approval had been given.

Together Carlucci and Powell reorganized the NSC to reduce the possibility for free-lance foreign policy. When in 1987 Carlucci took over as Secretary of Defense for the departing Weinberger, Powell was called upon to take over leadership of the NSC. The move earned widespread approval in Washington because, as Fred Barnes wrote in the New Republic, Powell is a national security adviser strong enough to settle policy disputes but without a personal agenda.

During his tenure at the NSC, Powell did speak out on a number of issues he felt were important to national security, including economic strength, control of technology exchanges, protection of the environment, a stable defense budget, free trade and foreign investment, research and development, and education. He also expressed his opposition to plans for the overthrow of Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega and to heavy spending on the Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars). Even so, as he told Barnes, Im principally a broker. I have strong views on things, but my job is to make sure the president gets the best information available to make an informed decision.

Appointed Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

In 1989, President George H.W. Bush rewarded Powell for the knowledge and skills he had acquired in the military and political arenas by naming him to the militarys top postChairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Powell was the youngest man and first black to hold that position. In peacetime, the chairmans responsibilities have included overseeing the prioritization of Pentagon spending and keeping the channels of communication open between the military and the White House. They have also included drawing up plans for military action, first in Panama and then in the Middle East.

Because of a 1986 law redefining his role, the general had more influence than any Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since World War II. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990, obliged Powell to exercise that authority. The day after the invasion, Powell advised the president that a number of options were open, including economic and diplomatic sanctions, as well as the use of military force; the Bush administration decided that decisive force was the necessary response. Operation Desert Shield, requiring the massive movement of troops and supplies to Saudi Arabia, was soon initiated as a show of force and to serve as a deterrent to further Iraqi aggression. After touring the Middle East, the general recommended increasing the number of troops to assure the success of an isolate and destroy strategy if it proved necessary. He told U.S. News and World Report: You go in to win, and you go in to win decisively.

In the early stages of the operation, Powell again demonstrated his ability to manage people and bureaucracies. As European and Middle Eastern troops joined in a coalition against Iraq, Powell directed the quick integration of communications, operations, and authority into a command network under the direction of General Norman Schwarzkopf. During the planning of the air and land campaigns, he aided the president in making political decisions and kept him informed of military plans, but he also convinced the Washington warriors to give the commanders in Saudi Arabia the space needed to earn, out their missions.

He, too, avoided invclvement in the minute details of day-to-day operations, exerting his authority only on major issues. He oversaw bombing missions on Baghdad only after the destruction of a suburban Baghdad bunker killed 400 civil: ans. He rejected Marine requests to launch a true amphibious assault on Kuwait instead of the feint scheduled to aid Schwarzkopfs encirclement of Kuwait by an end run through Iraq. He also convinced President Bush to respond to the February 21, 1991 Iraqi peace proposal with an ultimatum: the Iraqis must pull out of Kuwait by noon Washington time, February 23. When the deadline passed, the coalition began its land campaign later that night as scheduled.

Thrown Into the Spotlight

With the success of Operation Desert Storm, Powell was hurled into the spotlight of media and public attention. Powell found himself the target of public scrutiny and criticism. Some black leaders labeled him a servant of the white establishment and peace activists considered him a trigger-happy hawk. Such criticisms, however, were tempered by praise of him as a positive role model for your g African Americans and as a committed defender of liberty.

Because of his leadership during the war effort and his experience as an insider in the Washington bureaucracy, Powell political analysts suggested him as a promising candidate for future political office, either as vice-president or president. But Powell shied away from such notions, end met with Vice-President Dan Quayle to assure him that the general had no designs on the nations number two executive post. Powell also requested a second tour as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Bruce B. Auster reported in U.S. News and World Report: Powell is able to transfer his unquestioned personal integrity to the institution he leads in part because, while he wields more power than almost any of his Pentagon predecessors, he is not addicted to it.

As a black military leader, Powell has demonstrated his commitment to helping young black men and women succeed in the armed services. He has long contended that the military should not be criticized for putting a disproportionate number of young black men and women in harms way, but rather praised for its history of providing opportunities to minorities. Powell was quoted in Black Enterprise as saying, What we are dealing with now is a changing of hearts, changing of perspectives and of minds. We need to start to erase the cultural filter with respect to minorities.

Americas Promise

After his retirement from his position as chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1993, Powell shied from politics and pressure to run for high office, directing his energies instead toward helping Americas youth. In 1997, Powell, along with Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carer, and Gerald Ford, attended the Presidents Summit for Americas Future. The Summit, which took place in Philadelphia, called upon Americans to make youth a national priority and challenged citizens to dedicate their time to volunteer efforts that would improve the lives of Americas 15 million impoverished children. Inspired by the Summit, Powell founded Americas Promise, an organization which acts to mobilize the nation to provide Americas children with five fundamental resources, or Five Promises. These Five Promises, according to the Americas Promise website include: ongoing relationships with caring adultsparents, mentors, tutors, or coaches; safe places with structured activities during nonschool hours; healthy start and future; marketable skills through effective education; and opportunities to give back through community service.

Although the organization focuses heavily on promoting volunteerism, Powell often preferred to emphasize the importance of youth development. In 1997, he spoke about the unparalleled importance of a loving adult in a childs life, saying that the only alternative, as quoted by U.S. News & World Report, is to keep building more jails. The organization has a presence in over 500 communities and in all 50 states. Powell, as quoted on the Americas Promise website, said, Americas Promise is pulling together the might of this nation to strengthen the character and competence of youth. And its working.

Secretary of State

In 2000, after nearly seven years out of the political arena, Powell found himself again solicited to serve a President Bush. But this time it was George Bushs son, George W. Bush, who, after being elected to the nations highest office, called upon Powell to join his Cabinet of advisors. Bush asked Powell to become his Secretary of State. Powell agreed, and became the first African American ever to hold the office. Powell settled into his new job quickly. When Powell reported to work, State Department employees lined up just to shake hands with him. Some of them even wept for joy when they met the new Secretary.

Colin Powell has dedicated his life to the service of his country. As a soldier, Powell demonstrated a firm commitment to protecting his country and securing a world where democratic values can flourish. Although he has preferred to avoid limelight of high office, Powell has become a prominent figure in U.S. politics, advising several American presidents. He has also dedicated himself to Americas futureher children. Powell has become an American success story, but unlike the typical rags-to-riches story, Powells success stems, not from monetary accumulation, but rather, from all that he has given in service to his fellow Americans.

Sources

Periodicals

Black Enterprise, October 1989.

Ebony, July 1988.

Los Angeles Times, February 17, 1991.

Nations Cities Weekly, June 5, 2000.

New Republic, May 30, 1988.

Newsweek, August 21, 1989; March 18, 1990, May 24, 1999; March 5, 2001.

New York Times, October 15, 1987; September 16, 1988; December 2, 1988; August 15, 1989.

Time, November 16, 1987; August 21, 1989.

U.S. News and World Report, April 25, 1988; December 24, 1990; February 4, 1991; March 18, 1991; December 8, 1997.

Washington Post, March 23, 1987; August 7, 1988; August 10, 1989; August 11, 1989.

Other

Additional material was obtained online at the Americas Promise website, http://www.americaspromise.org.

Bryan Ryan and Jennifer M. York

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Powell, Colin

Powell, Colin

April 5, 1937


Born and raised in New York City, army officer, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State Colin Luther Powell grew up in a close-knit family of Jamaican immigrants in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. After attending public schools, Powell graduated from the City College of New York (CCNY) in 1958. Although his grades were mediocre, he discovered an affinity for the military. Participating in CCNY's Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program, he finished as a cadet colonel, the highest rank attainable. He received his commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army after completing college.

Powell served for two years in West Germany and two years in Massachusetts, where he met his wife, Alma. In 1962, already a captain, Powell received orders to report to Vietnam. He was one of the second wave of more than 15,000 military advisors sent by the United States to Vietnam, and he served with a South Vietnamese Army unit for most of his tenure. During his first tour of duty, from 1962 to 1963, Powell won the Purple Heart after being wounded by a Vietcong booby trap near the Laotian border.

After returning to the United States, Powell spent almost four years at Fort Benning in Georgia, serving as, among other things, an instructor at Fort Benning's Army Infantry School. In 1967, now a major, he attended an officers' training course at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, finishing second in a class of more than twelve hundred. In the summer of 1968 the army sent Powell back to Vietnam. On his second tour, Powell served primarily as a liaison to Gen. Charles Gettys of the Americal Division and received the Soldier's Medal for his role in rescuing injured soldiers, including General Gettys, from a downed helicopter.

Powell returned to the United States in mid-1969 and began moving between military field postings and political appointments, a process that would become characteristic of his career. In 1971, after working in the Pentagon for the assistant vice chief of the army, he earned an M.B.A. from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Shortly thereafter, the Nixon administration accepted Powell as a White House Fellow; he worked at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), then headed by Ca-spar Weinberger. In 1973, after a year at OMB, Powell received command of an infantry battalion in South Korea; his mission was to raise morale and restore order in a unit plagued by drug abuse and racial problems. He then attended a nine-month course at the National War College and received a promotion to full colonel in February 1976, taking command of the 2nd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

In 1979 Powell was an aide to Secretary of Energy Charles Duncan during the crisis of the nuclear accident

at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and the oil shortage caused by the overthrow of the shah of Iran. In June of that year, while working at the Department of Energy (DOE), he became a brigadier general. Powell returned to the field from 1981 until 1983, serving as assistant division commander of the Fourth Infantry (mechanized) in Colorado and then as the deputy commanding general of an army research facility at Fort Leavenworth. In mid-1983, he became military assistant to Secretary of Defense Ca-spar Weinberger. In 1986 Powell, by then a lieutenant general, returned to the field as the commander of V Corps, a unit of 75,000 troops in West Germany. The following year, in the wake of the Iran-Contra scandal, he returned to serve as President Ronald Reagan's national security advisor. During the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) arms-control negotiations with the Soviet Union, Powell was heralded as being a major factor in their success.

In July 1989 President George H. Bush nominated Powell, a newly promoted four-star general, to be the first black chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the armed forces. As chair, Powell was responsible for overseeing Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 international response to the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Through his commanding and reassuring television presence during the successful Persian Gulf War, Powell became one of the most popular figures in the Bush administration. Reappointed chair in 1991, he was the recipient of various military decorations as well as a Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bush. In the same year the NAACP gave Powell the Spingarn Medal, its highest award for African-American achievement.

When Bill Clinton was elected president in 1992, he and Powell had differences over Clinton's plan to substantially reduce the defense budget. Powell also disagreed with Clinton's proposal to end the ban on homosexuals in the military and was instrumental in limiting the scope of that change to a controversial "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy. Powell retired from the army in September 1993 at the end of his second term as chair of the Joint Chiefs. Upon his departure, President Clinton awarded Powell his second Presidential Medal of Freedom. After leaving government, Powell, by now one of the most admired Americans, continued his public activities. In October 1994 he traveled to Haiti as part of an American diplomatic mission, and he succeeded in brokering a deal with members of the ruling junta that enabled the country to return to constitutional rule without bloodshed.

Powell's reputation for honesty and moderation led to a widespread Powell-for-president boom. By mid-1995, national polls showed Powell leading all candidates in a presidential campaign, although he had not expressed views on domestic issues or even identified which political party he favored. His celebrity increased following publication of his best-selling memoir, My American Journey (1995). For several months Powell weighed a presidential run; he announced publicly that he was a Republican, but that he favored affirmative action. However, in December 1995 he stated that he did not have the "fire in his belly" to become president, and he withdrew from consideration. He remained in touch with Republicans leaders, and he made a popular speech at the Republican convention. In later years he toured the country as a much-soughtafter inspirational speaker and advisor. In April 1997 Powell founded America's Promise, a private foundation to aid disadvantaged youth.

In 2001 Powell reentered government, this time as a diplomat rather than a soldier. As President George W. Bush's secretary of state, Powell immediately faced an array of challenges. Despite the administration's campaign promises to limit foreign entanglements, it soon proved impossible in the wake of nuclear controversy in North Korea, the ongoing Palestinian/Israeli conflict in the Middle East, the attacks of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent response of the United States, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq. Powell became the government official who most often had to explain American foreign policy, both to the United Nations and to other governments, in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Powell's role as spokesperson for the administration became more difficult as official policy seemed to diverge from that suggested by his own experience and opinions; he felt that a military campaign against Iraq required not only victory but also a lengthy commitment to the reconstruction and maintenance of Iraq. Many analysts suggested that Powell's influence on foreign policy matters in the Bush administration paled in comparison to that of Vice President Dick Cheney, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Despite speculations about internal dissention, Powell continued to faithfully advance the administration's policy agenda. In early February 2003 he presented the United Nations Security Council with the case for military action against Iraq. Presenting supposed evidence based on U.S. and other intelligence sources, Powell diagrammed what he called "a deliberate campaign" by Iraq to mislead UN weapons inspectors and to hide existing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons as well as the means to produce more of both. This assertion has been one of the most questionable claims made by the Bush administration. American military forces in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 failed to discover most of the weapons that Saddam Hussein's government allegedly possessed. The absence of credible ties between Saddam Hussein's regime and the Al Qaeda operatives linked to September 11 damaged the legitimacy and approval ratings of both Powell and the administration more broadly. Despite that, throughout much of 2003, Powell consistently maintained higher approval ratings than any of the other major administration officials, including the president.

Shortly after the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom, conservative former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich blasted the State Department for its handling of the effort to create the desired international coalition for the military offensive against Iraq. Calling the State Department a "broken instrument," Gingrich recommended congressional hearings as well as White House initiatives to overhaul Powell's domain. While the administration offered a defense of the department's record, Powell's aides defended the secretary more passionately, saying that he stood "in the way of reckless foreign policy." That defense ironically used phrasing reminiscent of Bush's Democratic opponents, who often later accused the administration of having a "reckless" foreign policy. Somewhat confounding those who anticipated that Powell would wilt in the face of internal divisions within the administration as well as pressure from those who opposed the war in Iraq, he continued to serve the Bush administration as secretary of state with grace, loyalty, and resolve until his resignation in January 2005.

See also Military Experience, African-American; Politics in the United States.

Bibliography

Harari, Oren. The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2002.

Means, Howard. Colin Powell: Soldier/StatesmanStatesman/Soldier. New York: D. I. Fine, 1992.

Powell, Colin, with Joseph E. Persico. My American Journey. New York: Random House, 1995.

Steins, Richard. Colin Powell: A Biography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 2003.

john c. stoner (1996)
Updated by author 2005

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Powell, Colin

POWELL, COLIN

(b. April 5, 1937) Four-star general, secretary of state under President George W. Bush.

Colin Luther Powell, born in New York City on April 5, 1937, has served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as secretary of state (2001–). The younger of two children born to Luther and Maude Powell, Jamaican immigrants, Powell attended City College of New York and excelled in the ROTC program. After receiving his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the United States Army in 1958, Powell embarked on an impressive military career. With President Harry S. Truman's Executive Order 9981 to desegregate the United States Military, issued in 1948, and the ensuing Cold War he discovered that more opportunities existed in the military for African Americans than in civilian society. Equally important was Powell's love of soldiering. He embraced the structure, camaraderie, and sense of family in the army infantry.

Powell progressed through the military ranks and served two tours in Vietnam in 1962–1963 and 1968–1969, earning a Purple Heart among many other citations. His service in Vietnam as well as the civil rights movement at home shaped Powell's philosophy on military policy and race relations. It was not lost on Powell that, as he fought an increasingly unpopular war abroad, his wife Alma and son Michael were exposed to violence at home in Birmingham, Alabama. He left Vietnam committed to a military career. In future leadership roles he combined military preparedness with thoughtful compassion for the soldier, a policy known as the Powell doctrine.

During peacetime, Powell's military career flourished with civilian and political appointments. He completed a master's degree in business administration at George Washington University and served as a White House fellow during the Nixon administration in 1972. While stationed in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Powell discovered the history of the Buffalo Soldiers, the forgotten black soldiers of the 9th and 10th Cavalry. His personal crusade to restore their contributions to American history culminated in the unveiling of a memorial statue in 1992. Although Powell has consistently maintained a genuine appreciation of his ethnic heritage, he has often transcended race by not allowing it to become a burden.

In 1987 President Ronald Reagan appointed Powell his national security advisor, the first African American to fill that position. In 1989 Powell was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the youngest first African American and first ROTC graduate to be named to the highest position in the Department of Defense. In this position, Powell played a key role in the successful invasion of Panama. His reputation remained unscathed during the Iran-Contra Affair.

Powell's Vietnam experience shaped his policy decisions and was evident in his leadership role during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. He clearly articulated the goal of the military mission in his famous comment: "Our strategy for going after this [Iraqi] army is very, very simple. First we are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it." Yet he emerged from the war as a "reluctant warrior" for his decision to end military operations before Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was overthrown. Powell's decision reflected his desire to fight quick, decisive engagements without exposing young American soldiers to unnecessary conflict. Queen Elizabeth of England knighted Powell as the Commander of the Bath for his role in the Persian Gulf War.

Powell continued under President Bill Clinton as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He did not agree with Clinton on expanding gay rights in the military and developed a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that tolerated gay soldiers who did not reveal themselves as such. In 1993 Powell retired from the military after thirty-five years of service, but he was quickly called back to duty in 1994. President Clinton asked Powell to join an American delegation seeking to bring about a peaceful change of power in Haiti. In 1995 Powell published his autobiography, My American Journey. The book's, and its author's,

popularity among both Democrats and Republicans led to speculation about a bid for the presidency. Powell announced in November 1995 that he would not pursue elective office.

In 2001 Powell was sworn in as the first African-American secretary of state. As President George W. Bush's emissary abroad, he advocated spreading more democracy as America's major foreign policy goal. Powell played a key role in shaping policy in the second war with Iraq by making a convincing presentation to the United Nations in February 2003 that weapons of mass destruction did exist in Iraq and that UN inspections should be resumed. Considered one of the most moderate members of the Bush cabinet, he maintains prestige abroad. At home, he is widely respected by a broad spectrum of Americans for his service to his country and his commitment to excellence in all professional endeavors.

bibliography

Powell, Colin L., with Persico, Joe. My American Journey. New York: Random House, 1995.

Roth, David. Sacred Honor: A Biography of Colin Powell. New York: HarperCollins, 1993.

Means, Howard. Colin Powell: Soldier/Statesman-Statesman/Soldier. New York: Donald I. Fine, 1992.

Delia C. Gillis

See also:Bush, George H. W.; Bush, George W.; Clinton, William Jefferson; Race and Military; Reagan, Ronald.

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Powell, Colin

Colin Powell

Born April 5, 1937

Harlem, New York

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and U.S. secretary of state during the 2003 Iraq War

"We met the Iraqi army in the field and ... dealt it a crushing defeat and left less than half of what it had been"

Colin Powell in My American Journey.

Colin Powell served as chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking post in the American military, during the 1991 Persian Gulf War. As the top military advisor to President George H. W. Bush (see entry) and his administration, he played an important role in shaping the U.S. response to Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. He also supervised all aspects of Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the military operations that made up the Persian Gulf War and delivered a crushing defeat to Iraq's army. The victory over Iraq made Powell one of the United States' most popular public figures.

In 2001 Powell became U.S. secretary of state under President George W. Bush (see entry), son of the former president. In the weeks leading up to the 2003 Iraq War, he was responsible for presenting the Bush administration's case for war to the United Nations (UN) Security Council.

Son of Jamaican immigrants

Colin Luther Powell was born April 5, 1937, in Harlem, a neighborhood in New York City. His parents were Jamaican immigrants who worked in the city's garment district. His father, Luther Powell, worked as a shipping clerk, and his mother, Maud Ariel Powell, earned a paycheck as a seamstress. For most of his childhood, Powell's family lived in the South Bronx next to families from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds. Powell's childhood friends included boys from Irish, Jewish, Polish, Italian, and Hispanic families.

Powell grew up in a strong family environment. Surrounded by relatives who provided both security and discipline, he told People that "I had a great childhood. I had a close family, which provided everything I needed." Powell was a steady but unremarkable student up through his graduation from Morris High School in 1954. He then enrolled at City College of New York (CCNY), where he quickly emerged as one of the top students in CCNY's Reserve Officer's Training Corps (ROTC; ROTC programs prepare high school and college students to be officers in the U.S. Army Reserve). By the time Powell earned his bachelor's degree in geology from CCNY in 1958, he had earned the rank of cadet colonel, the top rank available to ROTC participants.

Powell treasures his ROTC experience and recognizes that it was an important first step in his successful military career. "The discipline, the structure, the camaraderie, the sense of belonging [in ROTC] were what I craved," he recalled in his 1995 autobiography, My American Journey. "I became a leader almost immediately. I found a selflessness within our ranks that reminded me of the caring atmosphere within my family. Race, color, background, income meant nothing. The PR (Pershing Rifles, a military society within the ROTC) would go the limit for each other and for the group. If this was what soldiering was all about, then maybe I wanted to be a soldier."

Serves in Vietnam War

After leaving CCNY, Powell joined the U.S. Army as a second lieutenant. He underwent basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia, a southern state in which segregation—a social system that limited educational, social, and economic opportunities for blacks by keeping them separate from white society—was very strong. As a black man, Powell experienced the racial bigotry of segregation nearly every day of his six-week basic training. After leaving Fort Benning, Powell spent the next four years at U.S. bases in West Germany and the United States. On August 25, 1962, he married Alma Vivian Johnson, a speech pathologist. They eventually had three children together—Michael, Linda, and Annemarie.

In 1963 Powell received orders to go to South Vietnam, a nation in Southeast Asia. His first assignment in the Vietnam War, a conflict that pitted North Vietnam against troops from South Vietnam and the United States, was to serve as a military advisor to South Vietnamese troops in a remote region of the country known as the A Shau Valley. Powell spent the next several months wondering whether he would live to see another day. "We were ambushed almost daily, usually in the morning, soon after we got under way," he recalled in My American Journey. "I found it maddening to be ambushed, to lose men day after day to this phantom enemy who hit and ran and hit again, with seeming impunity [without punishment], never taking a stand, never giving us anything to shoot at."

One day, Powell stepped on an enemy booby trap that drove a dirty spike through his foot. The injury was not life-threatening, but it forced his superiors to reassign him to an office position in one of South Vietnam's major cities. "It would be dishonest to say I hated to leave combat," he admitted in My American Journey. "But by the time I was injured, I had become the battalion commander in all but name. I had taken the same risks, slept on the same ground and eaten from the same pots as these men and had spilled my blood with them. Shared death, terror, and small triumphs in the A Shau Valley linked me closely to men with whom I could barely converse."

In 1963 Powell completed his tour of duty in Vietnam and returned to the United States. He was stationed at Fort Benning and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he received advanced military training. In 1968 he was sent back to Vietnam, where the war was raging at a feverish pitch. In 1969, however, Powell was injured in a helicopter crash. Despite his injuries, Powell managed to save three soldiers trapped in the burning wreckage. But his wounds convinced the army to send Powell home. He left Vietnam for good in 1969 with numerous medals and awards, including two Purple Hearts for wounds suffered in battle, a Bronze Star for bravery, a Soldier's Medal for bravery, and the Legion of Merit.

Advances through the ranks

After returning from Vietnam, Powell remained in the army but also became more involved in politics. He earned a master's degree in business from George Washington University in 1971. The next year, he joined the White House as an assistant to Frank Carlucci, who was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Powell spent the next two decades swinging back and forth between political positions and military assignments, mostly in the Department of Defense.

Powell's career advanced steadily forward throughout this period. He gained a reputation as a smart, ethical, and hard-working man who was more interested in serving his country than acquiring power and wealth for himself. For his part, Powell stated that he never felt the urge to leave the military. "I don't recall ever reaching a momentous point where I had to consciously decide whether or not I was going to continue to serve in the military," he once said, as quoted in the book Colin Powell. "I have always enjoyed being in the Army, and as the years went by, I continued to be challenged with each new assignment. I simply had no desire to do anything else."

Named to nation's top military post

In 1987 Powell became the first black American to serve his country as National Security Advisor. As a member of the National Security Council, an agency headed by the president of the United States that helps determine military and diplomatic decisions affecting national security, Powell became an important voice in shaping a wide variety of U.S. policies.

In 1989 President George H. W. Bush decided to name Powell to the U.S. military's top post, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). "General Powell has had a truly distinguished military career, and he's a complete soldier. He will bring leadership, insight, and wisdom to our efforts to keep the military strong," Bush declared in Colin Powell by Jim Haskins. Powell thus became the youngest man and the first black in U.S. history to hold the position of chairman of the JCS.

As chairman, Powell not only served as the president's top advisor on military issues, but also supervised all four branches of the U.S. Armed Services—army, navy, air force, and marines. His first major challenge in his new job was to provide President Bush with strategies for dealing with General Manuel Noriega, the dictator of a Central American nation called Panama. American drug enforcement agents suspected that Noriega was allowing drug dealers to ship their drugs through his country on their way to the United States. Then, in December 1989, Panamanian soldiers killed a U.S. Marine and tortured an American sailor. These events prompted the U.S. government to express concern about the safety of the thirteen thousand other Americans (mostly soldiers and their families) who were living in Panama.

The tense situation with Noriega convinced President Bush to order Powell to develop plans for a surprise attack on Panama. On December 20, 1989, this plan, called Operation Just Cause, was launched. The nighttime invasion by U.S. forces destroyed Noriega's headquarters and other important military posts. On January 3, 1990, Noriega surrendered to the United States.

Later that year, Iraq's invasion of neighboring Kuwait triggered another international crisis. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein (see entry) argued that Iraq had a historical claim to Kuwait's territory. He also wanted to control Kuwait's oil reserves and to gain access to Kuwait's port on the Persian Gulf. Countries around the world criticized the invasion and demanded that Hussein withdraw his troops from Kuwait. When he refused, many of these countries sent military forces to the Persian Gulf region to join a U.S.-led coalition against Iraq. The coalition eventually grew to include five hundred thousand U.S. troops and two hundred thousand soldiers from other nations.

Many of the U.S. troops sent to the Persian Gulf region were placed in Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally that Hussein had repeatedly threatened to attack. Powell and other U.S. military and political leaders referred to the campaign to protect Saudi Arabia as Operation Desert Shield. Powell supervised all major aspects of the Desert Shield campaign. "There were many long days and nights during the Gulf War," he recalled in the book Colin Powell. "I talked with General [Norman] Schwarzkopf [commander of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf] several times each day. There were lots of meetings to discuss our plans and to evaluate how well our troops were doing. It was a very stressful time with constant concern for the men and women serving so bravely and so far from home."

Throughout Operation Desert Shield, Powell gave numerous press briefings to reporters that were televised in the United States and around the world. In each of these briefings, Powell always appeared knowledgeable, confident, and calm. His manner reassured Americans who were anxious about going to war against Iraq, and led many people to hold him up as a positive role model for black and white youth alike.

Operation Desert Storm

Operation Desert Shield kept Saudi Arabia safe from the Iraqi army. But President Bush and other world leaders still wanted Hussein to end his occupation of Kuwait. In November 1990, the United Nations Security Council established a deadline of January 15, 1991, for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait or face attack by the U.S.-led forces. When Iraq failed to withdraw its troops from Kuwait by the deadline, the coalition forces began a campaign of air strikes against Iraqi troops and military positions, including some in the capital city of Baghdad. These air strikes, known as Operation Desert Storm, blasted Iraqi military targets for thirty-eight days, leaving Iraqi forces stunned and battered. The United States then launched a massive ground offensive against Iraqi positions in Kuwait and southern Iraq on February 24, 1991. Within one hundred hours, Hussein's forces were chased out of Kuwait and sent fleeing deep into Iraq. "We met the Iraqi army in the field and ... dealt it a crushing defeat and left less than half of what it had been," stated Powell in My American Journey.

President Bush ordered the U.S. military to end its pursuit of Iraq's battered army on February 27. This decision left Hussein in power with about half of his old military force. Powell admitted in his autobiography:

Years from now, historians will still ask if we should not have fought longer and destroyed more of the Iraqi army. Critics argue that we should have widened our war aims to include seizing Baghdad and driving Saddam Hussein from power.... What tends to be forgotten is that while the U.S led the way [in Operation Desert Storm], we were heading an international coalition carrying out a clearly defined U.N. mission [to drive Iraq out of Kuwait]. That mission was accomplished.... I stand by my role in the President's decision to end the war when and how he did. It is an accountability I carry with pride and without apology.

A respected figure in American politics

Many observers believe that the Persian Gulf War helped the people of the United States gain a new level of confidence in their military. As one of the most visible leaders of the U.S. military campaign in that conflict, Powell became one of the most respected and well-liked figures in American society. Many people even urged him to run for political office, maybe even the presidency of the United States. But Powell resisted these suggestions, saying that he did not like the negative tone of American politics.

Powell retired from the U.S. military on September 30, 1993, after thirty-five years of service. At his retirement ceremony, President Bill Clinton awarded him one of the country's highest honors, the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction, in front of thousands of guests. He wrote in My American Journey:

As I looked over this spectacle of color and pageantry, I would have to be soul-dead not to marvel at the trajectory [direction] my life had followed, from an ROTC second lieutenant out of CCNY to the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. armed forces; from advising a few hundred men in the jungles of Vietnam to responsibility for over 2 million soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines; from growing up with tough kids in the South Bronx to association with leaders from all over the world. My only regret was that I could not do it all over again.

In 1995 Powell published his autobiography, called My American Journey. Two years later he founded America's Promise—An Alliance for Youth, an organization that aims to help at-risk children by encouraging adults to take an active interest in their growth and development. One of the organization's highest priorities is encouraging volunteerism, which Powell sees as a key to healthy and happy communities. "Young people—like adults—usually find that when they make a real effort on behalf of others, they get back more than they contribute," he wrote in Time magazine. "Many youngsters report that volunteering in their communities has helped them understand people who are different from themselves, has opened up new career possibilities to them, and has enlarged their horizons."

U.S. secretary of state during the 2003 Iraq War

In 2000 Texas Governor George W. Bush, a son of the President Bush who had been in office during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, was elected to be the forty-third president of the United States. He promptly asked Powell to serve as secretary of state in his administration. Powell accepted the invitation, so when the Bush administration assumed power in January 2001, the son of poor Jamaican immigrants became the first African American secretary of state in U.S. history. As Bush's leading advisor on foreign policy issues, Powell played an important role in many administration decisions, including the decision to invade Iraq.

In September 2002 Bush challenged the United Nations to take action against Iraq. He argued that the United Nations should force Iraq to honor the agreement that had ended the Persian Gulf War eleven years earlier. He claimed that the United Nations would lose its authority if it allowed Hussein to continue ignoring the agreement. Bush also made it clear that the United States would act alone to disarm Iraq by force if necessary. As the threat of American military action increased, Iraq agreed to allow the UN weapons inspectors to return "without conditions." In November the UN Security Council responded to Bush's calls for action by unanimously passing a new resolution regarding Iraq. Resolution 1441 declared Iraq in violation of earlier UN resolutions, authorized a new round of weapons inspections, and promised that Iraq would face serious consequences if it failed to comply.

Weapons inspectors from the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), led by Hans Blix of Sweden, returned to Iraq on November 18, 2002. Their reports over the next few months contained mixed results. Sometimes Iraqi authorities were very cooperative. At other times, however, they seemed to be hiding information from the inspectors. The Bush administration was dissatisfied with Blix's reports and continued to pressure the UN Security Council to authorize the use of military force to disarm Iraq and remove Hussein from power.

On February 5, 2003, Powell appeared before the UN Security Council to make the administration's case against Iraq. He presented evidence that he claimed proved that Iraq still possessed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological weapons. He also argued that Hussein was determined to build nuclear weapons. "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program," Powell stated, as quoted by Online News-Hour. "On the contrary, we have more than a decade of proof that he remains determined to acquire nuclear weapons."

Powell presented spy photos of suspected weapons facilities in Iraq, tape recordings of intercepted telephone conversations between Iraqi officials, and statements from informants inside Hussein's government. He accused Iraq of following a policy of "evasion and deception" for a dozen years, intentionally hiding things from UN inspectors. Finally, he suggested that a link existed between Saddam Hussein and the Al Qaeda terrorist group which was responsible for the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. On the basis of his evidence, Powell insisted that the Security Council pass a new resolution authorizing its members to use force to disarm Iraq. "We must not shrink from whatever is ahead of us. We must not fail in our duty and our responsibility for the citizens of the countries that are represented by this body," he said in Online NewsHour. "Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11 world."

Powell needed to convince nine of the fourteen other member countries of the UN Security Council, including the four other permanent members, to vote in favor of a new resolution. But several members of the Security Council, notably France and Russia, still had doubts about the use of force against Iraq. They did not believe that Iraq posed an immediate threat and wanted to give the weapons inspectors more time to complete their work. After weeks of tense diplomatic negotiations, it became clear that France would use its veto power to block a new resolution authorizing the use of military force in Iraq. The United States and its allies decided not to seek a new resolution, instead arguing that military force was permitted under resolution 1441.

Despite the lack of UN support, the United States launched its invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003. U.S. forces succeeded in capturing Baghdad and removing Hussein from power after just a few weeks of fighting. On May 1 Bush announced the end of major combat operations in Iraq. However, American troops remained in the country to help the Iraqi people rebuild facilities and form a democratic government. When the U.S. occupation forces faced resistance from angry Iraqis and foreign fighters, Powell continued to defend the Bush administration's policies. He acknowledged that keeping the peace in postwar Iraq was difficult, but expressed confidence that the occupation would eventually result in the creation of a free and democratic society.

Where to Learn More

America's Promise. Available at http://www.americaspromise.org (accessed on April 2, 2004).

Haskins, Jim. Colin Powell. Danbury, CT: Scholastic, 1997.

"Interview with Colin Powell." Unfold, Spring 1999.

Kunen, James S. "Colin Powell, America's Top Soldier, Has Taken His Influence from Harlem to the White House." People, September 10, 1990.

Powell, Colin. "Viewpoint." Time, December 15, 1997.

Powell, Colin, with Joseph E. Persico. My American Journey: An Autobiography. New York: Random House, 1995.

"Powell Presents Evidence to UN in the Case against Iraq." Online News-Hour, February 5, 2003. Available online at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/powell_02-05-03.html (accessed on April 2, 2004).

Reef, Catherine. Colin Powell. Frederick, MD: Twenty-First Century Books, 1992.

"UN Members Offer Mixed Response to Powell Report." Online NewsHour, February 5, 2003. Available online at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/reac_02-05-03.html (accessed on April 2, 2004).

Wukovits, John F. Colin Powell. San Diego: Lucent Books, 2000.

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