Colby, William E.

US career intelligence officer, with OSS in WW II, with CIA in Vietnam from 1959, CIA Director 1973-76

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(1920-1996) Career intelligence officer, with the OSS in WW II, CIA Director 1973-76 (Nixon-Ford). Before and during the Vietnam War, he was Saigon chief of station, chief of the CIA Far East Division, led the Civil Operations and Rural Development effort, and oversaw the Phoenix Program. While CIA Director, he was under intense pressure from Congress and the media, adopting a policy of relative openness about intelligence activities to the Senate Church Committee and the House Pike Committee. In 1941 he volunteered for the Army and served with the OSS, working with resistance forces in occupied Europe. He parachuted behind enemy lines twice, earning the Silver Star and commendations from Norway, France, and Great Britain. In his 1st mission he deployed to France commanding Team BRUCE in mid-August 1944, operating with the Maquis until he joined up with Allied forces that fall. In April 1945, he led a group into Norway to destroy railway lines to slow German forces from reinforcing the defense of Germany. After WW II, he graduated from Columbia Law School and briefly practiced law in William J. Donovan’s NYC law firm. He moved to Washington and accepted a position with the CIA. He spent 12 years in Stockholm and much of the 1950s in Rome under cover as a State Dept. officer, leading the CIA’s covert political operations supporting anti-Communist parties in elections against left-wing, pro-Soviet parties. In 1959 he became CIA deputy chief then chief of station in Saigon, to 1962. Tasked with supporting the government of Ngo Dinh Diem, he established a relationship with Diem's family. He focused on building up Vietnam’s capabilities to combat the Viet Cong, arguing that "the key to the war in Vietnam was the war in the villages.” In 1962 he returned to Washington to become deputy and then chief of CIA's Far East Division, deeply involved in US policies in East Asia, particularly with Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, and China. In 1968, LBJ sent Colby back to Vietnam as deputy to Robert Komer, charged with streamlining the civilian side of US & South Vietnamese anti-Communist efforts. Colby succeeded Komer as head of the US/South Vietnamese rural pacification effort, part of it the controversial Phoenix Program designed to identify and attack the "Viet Cong Infrastructure." With Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and General Creighton Abrams, he worked to focus more on pacification (“winning hearts and minds”) and securing the countryside as opposed to the "search and destroy" approach of Westmoreland’s tenure as MACV commander. Colby later argued this approach reduced Communist insurgency in South Vietnam, but that South Vietnam, without US air and ground support after the 1973 Paris Accords, was ultimately overwhelmed by a conventional No. Vietnamese assault in 1975. Colby returned to Washington in 1971 and became CIA executive director. After Director Richard Helms was fired by Nixon in 1973, James Schlesinger assumed the Agency’s helm. Colby agreed with Schlesinger's reformist approach. Schlesinger appointed him head of the clandestine branch in early 1973. When Schlesinger became Secretary of Defense, Colby became Director. His tumultuous 2 ½ year tenure was overshadowed by the Church and Pike congressional investigations into alleged intelligence malfeasance over the preceding 25 years. Shortly after assuming leadership, the Yom Kippur War broke out, which surprised US intelligence agencies and also the Israelis. South Vietnam fell to Communist forces in April 1975. Events in the arms-control field, Angola, Australia, the Middle East, and elsewhere demanded attention. Colby also focused on CIA and intelligence community internal reforms, disbanding the Board of National Estimates and replacing it with the National Intelligence Council. President Ford and others concerned by his openness to Congress and distance from the White House, replaced him late in 1975 with George H. W. Bush during the “Halloween Massacre” where Defense Secretary Schlesinger was also replaced by Donald Rumsfeld. In 1977 Colby founded Colby, Miller & Hanes law firm and advised various bodies on intelligence matters. He wrote memoirs of his professional life with discussions of history and policy:“Honorable Men: My Life in the CIA”, the other on US policy on Vietnam, “Lost Victory”. On April 27, 1996, he left his Maryland weekend home on a solo canoe trip; on May 6, his body was found not far from where his canoe was found, his death ruled accidental. Conspiracy theories suggested foul play; Colby's son suggested that his father committed suicide. TLS “Bill Colby” on 11 x 8 1/2 Colby, Miller & Hanes law offices letterhead, Washington, March 21 1979, to Major General DeWitt smith, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Penna. Colby thanks Smith for his lovely visit to the War College and excellent lunch at his quarters. Colby was pleased to talk with General Smith and to students “particularly interested in the intelligence field in that informal way.” He was pleased to meet the rest of the class and receive their excellent and sophisticated questions. Colby appreciates his Washington Camp Cup, a “memento of a lovely day and a fine association.” DeWITT C. SMITH,JR. (1920-1985) US Army officer for 38 years, former Deputy Army Chief of Staff, twice (and longest-serving) commandant of the Army War College 1974-77 & 1978-80. He was one of 49 generals and admirals who signed a public letter to President Bush in March 2004 urging him to postpone operational deployment of a ground-based strategic mid-course ballistic missile defense system. He signed petitions against the use of land mines and publicly raised concerns about the conduct of the war in Iraq. He attended Oberlin College but, alarmed by Hitler's rise in Europe, joined the Canadian army before US entry in WW II, enlisting under an assumed name; his father discovered what he had done and had him discharged. In 1942, he joined the US Army and was sent to NCO school, then Officer Candidate School. Commissioned a 2nd lieutenant, he went overseas with the 4th Armored Division, serving in combat after Normandy until the end of the War. General Smith was wounded 3 times in action and awarded the Silver Star, 2 Bronze Stars for Valor, and 3 Purple Hearts. Discharged in 1946, he graduated from the University of Maryland, returning to active duty for the Korean War and stayed in the military. He was an aide to Chief of Staff Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, served in the "Old Guard" at Fort Myer, and was a battalion executive officer and commander in Germany. He served in staff positions at the Pentagon before going to the Army War College. He commanded a combat brigade of the First Infantry Division in Vietnam and came under fire in the Dominican Republic while on the staff of the Secretary of Defense in the mid-1960s. In 1970, under his leadership, Fort Carson in Colorado was made an initial test site for the modern volunteer Army concept. Gen. Smith established a Racial Harmony Council, because of several racial incidents at or near the base. After his stints at the War College, he retired in 1980.

Condition: Very good, docketing in unknown hand at top right
Type:Letter






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