Gen. Powell to Oversee All Army Troops in U.S.
Lt. Gen. Colin L. Powell, White House national security adviser since 1987, has been chosen for promotion to full general and command of all Army troops stationed in the United States, President Reagan announced Thursday.
Powell, 51, would become only the fourth black officer to attain four-star rank in the U.S. armed forces if the Senate confirms the nomination.
“President Reagan has the highest respect and affection for Gen. Powell and wishes him all success in his Army career,” White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said. “Gen. Powell has been a friend and colleague whose advice and counsel have been valued by all members of the White House staff.”
Second Black Officer
Powell would join Air Force Gen. Bernard P. Randolph as the second black four-star officer currently on active duty.
The first such officer in American history was Air Force Gen. Daniel (Chappie) James, who won his rank in August, 1975. He died shortly after retiring in 1978. The second was Army Gen. Roscoe Robinson, who won his fourth star on Aug. 30, 1982, and retired in November, 1985.
The move from national security adviser to Forces Command was described by Army officials Thursday as “a great leap to a choice assignment” and one that would put Powell back in the running to become Army chief of staff.
Powell often has been mentioned as a contender for the Army’s top uniformed job, but some in the service thought his chances were harmed when he took a political job at the White House.
‘Is Quite a Move’
“But to go from commanding a corps in Germany to commanding more than 1 million soldiers, even if you’re White House security adviser in between, is quite a move,” one official said.
In taking over Forces Command at Ft. McPherson in Atlanta, Powell would succeed Gen. Joseph T. Palastra Jr., who is retiring.
The change of command will probably occur in April, the Army said. The Forces Command oversees both active duty and reserve troops in the United States.
The Army has 10 full generals, but sources at the Pentagon said the Forces Command position was likely to be the only four-star post to open during the next year. “The White House handled this one directly,” one official said.