Collin Powell Essay

1480 Words 6 Pages
Secretary of State Colin Luther Powell 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). In 2001 the U.S. Senate confirmed him as the Secretary of State.
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
…show more content…
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…