Retired Nov. 1, 1963. Died Feb. 23, 1987.
Major General Edward G. Lansdale was born in Detroit, Mich., in 1908, the second of the four sons of Sarah Frances Philips of California and Henry Lansdale of Virginia. After schooling in Michigan, New York and California, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles where he earned his way largely by writing for newspapers and magazines. He soon found his way into the better paying field of advertising in Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In World War II, he served with the Office of Strategic Services and later was commissioned as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1943, serving in various military intelligence assignments throughout the war. After several wartime promotions, he was transferred to Headquarters Air Forces Western Pacific as a major in 1945, where he became chief of the Intelligence Division. He extended his tour to remain in the Philippines at AFWESPAC, and later PHILRYCOM, until 1948. During this period, he helped the Philippine Army rebuild its intelligence services, was responsible for the disposition of unresolved cases of large numbers of prisoners of war involving many nationalities, conducted numerous studies to assist the U.S. and Philippines Governments in learning the effects of World War II on the Philippines, and later served as public information officer for PHILRYCOM.
He was commissioned a captain in the regular U.S. Air Force in 1947, with the temporary rank of major. After leaving the Philippines in 1948, he served as an instructor at the Strategic Intelligence School, Lowry Air Force Base, Colo., where he received a temporary promotion to lieutenant colonel in 1949. In 1950, at the personal request of President Elpidio Quirino, he was transferred to Joint United States Military Assistance Group, Philippines, to advise the intelligence services of the Armed Forces of the Philippines which were then meeting a serious threat to national security by the Communist Huks. Ramon Magsaysay had just been appointed secretary of national defense and Lansdale was made liaison officer to Secretary Magsaysay for JUSMAG. The two became intimate friends, frequently visiting the combat areas together. Lansdale helped the Philippine Armed Forces develop psychological operations, civic actions, and the rehabilitation of Huk prisoners in projects such as EDCOR. He was given a temporary promotion to colonel in 1951.
In 1953 he was a member of General J.W. "Iron Mike" O'Daniell's mission to the French forces in Indo-China, acting as an advisor on special counter-guerrilla operations. After return to further duties in the Philippines, he was later transferred in 1954 to Saigon, where he served with MAAG-Vietnam until the end of 1956. During this period, he helped advise the Vietnamese Armed Forces and the Vietnamese Government on many internal security problems, including the pacification campaigns of 1954-55, as well as psychological operations, intelligence the integration of sect armies, civic action, and the refugee program. He as privileged to have the close friendship of President Ngo Dinh Diem and many other Vietnamese leaders.
In 1957 after brief staff duty with Headquarters, U.S. Air Force, he was transferred in June 1957 to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, with duties as deputy assistant to the secretary of defense for special operations. In 1959, he served on the staff of the President's Committee on Military Assistance (the Draper Committee). He was given a temporary promotion to brigadier general in April 1960. On Feb. 24, 1961, he was appointed assistant to the secretary of defense, where his primary duties involve attention to special operations of an extremely sensitive nature.
Among his decorations are the Distinguished Service Medal awarded by the Air Force for his work in Indo-China during the period 1954 to 1956, the National Security Medal awarded by the National Security Council for his service in the Philippines during the period 1950 to 1953, the Philippine's Legion of Honor, and the Philippine's Medal of Military Merit.
General Lansdale was an early proponent of stronger U.S. actions in the cold war, as expressed in a number of speeches and articles on counter-insurgency, psychological operations, and civic action, which have received wide attention in the U.S. Government.