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Maxwell D. Taylor

Maxwell D. Taylor

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General Maxwell Davenport "Max" Taylor (August 26, 1901 – April 19, 1987) was an United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 four star general
General (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Air Force, and United States Marine Corps, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an...

 and diplomat
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 of the mid-20th century, who served as the fifth Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

 after having been appointed by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

.

Early Life


Taylor was born in Keytesville, Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

 and graduated from the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 in 1922.

World War II


Taylor's rise to the highest echelons of U.S. government began under the tutelage of General Matthew B. Ridgway in the US Army's 82nd Airborne Division
U.S. 82nd Airborne Division
The 82nd Airborne Division is an active airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute landing operations. Based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the 82nd Airborne Division is the primary fighting arm of the XVIII Airborne Corps....

 when Ridgway commanded the division in the early part of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. In 1943, Taylor's diplomatic and language skills resulted in his secret mission to Rome to coordinate an 82nd air drop with Italian forces. General Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 would later say that "the risks he ran were greater than I asked any other agent or emissary to take during the war." Hundreds of miles behind the front lines of battle, Taylor was forced by rules of engagement to wear his American military uniform, so that if captured he could not be shot as a spy. He met with the new Italian Prime Minister, Marshal Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio
Pietro Badoglio, 1st Duke of Addis Abeba, 1st Marquess of Sabotino was an Italian soldier and politician...

 and general Carboni
Giacomo Carboni
Giacomo Carboni was an Italian general who was the commander of Corpo d'armata motocorazzato deployed around Rome in the early days of September 1943.- Life and career :...

. The air drop near Rome to capture the city was called off at the last minute, when Taylor realized that it was too late. German forces were already moving in to cover the intended drop zones. Transport planes were already in the air when Taylor's message canceled the drop, preventing the suicide mission. These efforts behind enemy lines got Taylor noticed at the highest levels of the Allied command.

After the campaigns in the Mediterranean, Taylor was assigned to command the 101st Airborne Division
101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division—the "Screaming Eagles"—is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France, Operation Market Garden, the...

, which was training in England, after the 101st's first commander Major General Bill Lee
William C. Lee
Major General William Carey "Bill" Lee was an American U.S. Army soldier and general. Lee is often referred to as the "Father of the U.S. Airborne".-Biography:...

 suffered a heart attack.

Taylor jumped into Normandy
Normandy
Normandy is a geographical region corresponding to the former Duchy of Normandy. It is in France.The continental territory covers 30,627 km² and forms the preponderant part of Normandy and roughly 5% of the territory of France. It is divided for administrative purposes into two régions:...

 on June 6, 1944, with his men. He was the first Allied general to land in France on D-Day. He commanded the 101st Airborne Division for the rest of the war, among other things during Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden
Operation Market Garden was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time....

 in The Netherlands, but missed out leading the division during its most famous conflict, the Battle of Bastogne
Battle of Bastogne
The Siege of Bastogne was an engagement between American and German forces at the Belgian town of Bastogne, as part of the larger Battle of the Bulge. The goal of the German offensive was the harbor at Antwerp. In order to reach it before the Allies could regroup and bring their superior air power...

 during the Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

, because he was attending a staff conference in the United States. The Division Artillery commander, Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe
Anthony McAuliffe
General Anthony Clement "Nuts" McAuliffe was the United States Army general who commanded the 101st Airborne Division troops defending Bastogne, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II...

 exercised command in his absence. Some of the paratroopers resented Taylor for this later. General Taylor called the defense of Bastogne the 101st Airborne Division's "finest hour" of the war and stated that his absence there was one of his greatest disappointments in World War II.

After World War II



From 1945 to 1949 Taylor was superintendent
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
The commanding officer of the United States Military Academy is its Superintendent. This position is roughly equivalent to the chancellor or president of an American civilian university. The officer appointed is by tradition a graduate of the United States Military Academy, commonly known as "West...

 of West Point. In 1947, he drafted the first official Honor Code publication marking the beginning of the written “Cadet Honor Code
Cadet Honor Code
Both the United States Military Academy and the United States Air Force Academy have adopted a Cadet Honor Code as a formalized statement of the minimum standard of ethics expected of cadets. Other military schools have similar codes with their own methods of administration...

” at West Point. Afterwards he was the commander of allied troops in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 from 1949 to 1951.

In 1953, he was sent to the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

. From 1955 to 1959, he was the Army Chief of Staff
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

, succeeding his former mentor, Matthew B. Ridgway
Matthew Ridgway
Matthew Bunker Ridgway was a United States Army General. He held several major commands and was most famous for resurrecting the United Nations war effort during the Korean War. Several historians have credited Ridgway for turning around the war in favor of the UN side...

. During his tenure as Army Chief of Staff, Taylor attempted to guide the service into the age of nuclear weapons by restructuring the infantry division. Observers such as Colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 David Hackworth have written that the effort gutted the role of US Army company and field grade officers, rendering it unable to adapt to the dynamics of combat in Vietnam.

During 1957, President Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 ordered General Taylor to deploy 1,000 troops from the 101st Airborne Division
101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division—the "Screaming Eagles"—is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France, Operation Market Garden, the...

 to Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...

 to enforce Federal court orders to desegregate Central High School
Central High School (Little Rock)
Little Rock Central High School is a high school in Little Rock, Arkansas, United States. Central High School was the site of forced school desegregation during the American Civil Rights Movement.Central is located at the intersection of Daisy L...

 during the Little Rock Crisis.

As Army Chief of Staff, Taylor was an outspoken critic of the Eisenhower Administration's "New Look"
New Look (policy)
The New Look was the name given to the national security policy of the United States during the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower...

 defense policy, which he viewed as dangerously over-reliant on nuclear arms and neglectful of conventional forces; he also criticized the inadequacies of the Joint Chiefs of Staff system. Frustrated with the administration's failure to heed his arguments, General Taylor retired from active service in July 1959. He campaigned publicly against the "New Look," culminating in the publication in January 1960 of a highly critical book entitled "The Uncertain Trumpet."

Return to duty


As the 1960 presidential campaign unfolded, Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 criticized Eisenhower's defense policy and championed a muscular "flexible response
Flexible response
Flexible response was a defense strategy implemented by John F. Kennedy in 1961 to address the Kennedy administration's skepticism of Dwight Eisenhower's New Look and its policy of Massive Retaliation...

" policy intentionally aligned with Taylor's views as described in "The Uncertain Trumpet." After the April 1961 failure of the Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months...

, Kennedy, who felt the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Joint Chiefs of Staff is a body of senior uniformed leaders in the United States Department of Defense who advise the Secretary of Defense, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the President on military matters...

 had failed to provide him with satisfactory military advice, appointed Taylor to head a task force to investigate the failure of the invasion.

Both President Kennedy and his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

, had immense regard for Taylor, whom they saw as a man of unquestionable integrity, sincerity, intelligence, and diplomacy. The Cuba Study Group met for six weeks from April to May 1961 to perform an "autopsy" on the disastrous events surrounding the Bay of Pigs Invasion
Bay of Pigs Invasion
The Bay of Pigs Invasion was an unsuccessful action by a CIA-trained force of Cuban exiles to invade southern Cuba, with support and encouragement from the US government, in an attempt to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. The invasion was launched in April 1961, less than three months...

. In the course of their work together, Taylor developed a deep regard and a personal affection for Robert F. Kennedy
Robert F. Kennedy
Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy , also referred to by his initials RFK, was an American politician, a Democratic senator from New York, and a noted civil rights activist. An icon of modern American liberalism and member of the Kennedy family, he was a younger brother of President John F...

, a friendship that was wholly mutual and which remained firm until RFK's assassination in 1968.

Taylor spoke of Robert Kennedy glowingly: "He is always on the lookout for a 'snow job,' impatient with evasion and imprecision, and relentless in his determination to get at the truth." Robert Kennedy named one of his sons Matthew Maxwell Taylor Kennedy (better known as an adult as "Max").

Shortly after the investigation concluded, the Kennedys' warm feelings for Taylor and the President's lack of confidence in the Joint Chiefs of Staff led John Kennedy to recall Taylor to active duty and install him in the newly created post of military representative to the president. His close personal relationship with the President and White House access effectively made Taylor the President's primary military adviser, cutting out the Joint Chiefs. On October 1, 1962, Kennedy ended this uncomfortable arrangement by appointing Taylor as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is by law the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces, and is the principal military adviser to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council and the Secretary of Defense...

, a position in which he served until 1964.

The Vietnam War



Taylor was of crucial importance during the first weeks and months of the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

. Whereas initially President Kennedy had told Taylor that "the independence of South Vietnam rests with the people and government of that country," Taylor was soon to recommend that 8,000 American combat troops be sent to the region at once. After making his report to the Cabinet and the Chiefs of Staff, Taylor was to reflect on the decision to send troops to South Vietnam: "I don't recall anyone who was strongly against, except one man, and that was the President. The President just didn't want to be convinced that this was the right thing to do.... It was really the President's personal conviction that U.S. ground troops shouldn't go in."

Taylor opposed the 1963 South Vietnamese coup
1963 South Vietnamese coup
In November 1963, President Ngô Đình Diệm of South Vietnam was deposed by a group of Army of the Republic of Vietnam officers who disagreed with his handling of the Buddhist crisis and, in general, his increasing oppression of national groups in the name of fighting the communist Vietcong.The...

 that overthrew and killed President Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngo Dinh Diem
Ngô Đình Diệm was the first president of South Vietnam . In the wake of the French withdrawal from Indochina as a result of the 1954 Geneva Accords, Diệm led the effort to create the Republic of Vietnam. Accruing considerable U.S. support due to his staunch anti-Communism, he achieved victory in a...

.

A series of short-lived juntas followed, and after Taylor was made ambassador in 1964, he frequently clashed with General Nguyen Khanh
Nguyen Khanh
Nguyễn Khánh is a former general in the Army of the Republic of Vietnam who variously served as Head of State and Prime minister of South Vietnam while at the head of a military junta from January 1964 until February 1965. He was involved in or against many coup attempts, failed and successful,...

 and helped to engineer his removal, having supported Khanh's deposal of General Duong Van Minh
Duong Van Minh
Minh was born on 16 February 1916 in Mỹ Tho Province in the Mekong Delta, the son of a wealthy landowner who served in a prominent position in the Finance Ministry of the French colonial administration...

.

Criticisms


Taylor received fierce criticism in Maj. (now BG) H.R. McMaster's book Dereliction of Duty. Specifically, Gen. Taylor was accused of intentionally misrepresenting the views of the Joint Chiefs to Secretary of Defense McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

, and cutting the Joint Chiefs out of the decision-making process.

Whereas the Chiefs felt that it was their duty to offer unqualified assessments and recommendations on military matters, Gen. Taylor was of the firm belief that the chairman should not only support the president's decisions but also be a true believer in them. This discrepancy manifested itself during the early planning phases of the war, while it was still being decided what the nature of American involvement should be. McNamara and the civilians of the office of the secretary of defense were firmly behind the idea of graduated pressure—that is, to escalate pressure slowly against North Vietnam in order to demonstrate U.S. resolve. The Joint Chiefs, however, strenuously disagreed with this and believed that if the US got involved further in Vietnam, it should be with the clear intention of winning and through the use of overwhelming force. McMaster contends that using a variety of political maneuvering, including liberal use of outright deception, Gen. Taylor succeeded in keeping the Joint Chiefs' opinions away from the President and helped set the stage for McNamara to begin to dominate systematically the U.S. decision making process on Vietnam.

Second retirement


He again retired and became Ambassador to South Vietnam
United States Ambassador to South Vietnam
After World War II, France attempted to regain control of Vietnam, which they had lost to Japan in 1940. Following the First Indochina War, the country was split into two parts, the north and the south. The southern part was named The State of Vietnam under the leadership of Bảo Đại...

 from 1964 to 1965, succeeding Henry Cabot Lodge Jr.  He was Special Consultant to the President and Chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board
The President's Intelligence Advisory Board is an advisor to the Executive Office of the President of the United States. According to its self-description, it "...provides advice to the President concerning the quality and adequacy of intelligence collection, of analysis and estimates, of...

 (1965–1969) and President of the Institute for Defense Analyses
Institute for Defense Analyses
The Institute for Defense Analyses is a non-profit corporation that administers three federally funded research and development centers to assist the United States government in addressing important national security issues, particularly those requiring scientific and technical expertise...

 (1966–1969).

General Taylor died in Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 on April 19, 1987, of ALS
ALS
ALS refers to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's diseaseIt may also refer to:-Medicine:* Advanced life support, a level of medical training* Anterolateral system, part of the nervous system...

. He was interred at Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

.

Dramatic portrayals

  • Taylor was portrayed by Paul Maxwell
    Paul Maxwell
    Paul Maxwell was a Canadian actor who worked mostly in British television and films, in which he was usually cast as an American...

     in A Bridge Too Far, Andrew Duggan
    Andrew Duggan
    -Career:During World War II, Duggan was in the 40th Special Services Company, led by actor Melvyn Douglas in the China Burma India Theater of World War II. His contact with Douglas later led to his performing with Lucille Ball in the play Dreamgirl. He developed a friendship with Broadway...

     in The Missiles of October
    The Missiles of October
    The Missiles of October is a 1974 docudrama made-for-television play about the Cuban missile crisis. The title evokes the book The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman about the missteps among the great powers and the failed chances to give an opponent a graceful way out, which led to the First...

     and by Bill Smitrovich
    Bill Smitrovich
    -Personal life:Bill Smitrovich was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the son of Anna and Stanley William Zmitrowicz, a tool and die maker. Bill is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport and holds an MFA from Smith College . He is married to Shaw Purnell from Pittsburgh, PA...

     in Thirteen Days
    Thirteen Days (film)
    Thirteen Days is a 2000 docudrama directed by Roger Donaldson about the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, seen from the perspective of the US political leadership. Kevin Costner stars, with Bruce Greenwood featured as John F. Kennedy....

    .

External links