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July 30, 2014
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December 1, 1981
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Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254TITLE: Colonel Lawrence K. WhiteAUTHOR: R. Jack SmithVOLUME: 25 ISSUE: Winter YEAR: 1981Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 444(04;??- - .71411101041gregalregal&M.A collection of articles on the historical, operational, doctrinal, and theoretical aspects of intelligence. ?All stratements of fact, opinion or analysis expressed in Studies in Intelligence are those ofthe authors. They do not necessarily reflect official positions or views of the CentralIntelligence Agency or any other US Government entity, past or present. Nothing in thecontents should be construed as asserting or implying US Government endorsement of anarticle's factual statements and interpretations.Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254?12k1"(b)(3)(n)Lawrence K. White(b)(3)(n)Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Duty. . . Honor. . . CountryCOLONEL LAWRENCE K. WHITE ?R. Jack SmithNot surprisingly, Sherman Kent, that master of the pungent phrase, best summedup Col. Lawrence K. "Red" White. -That splendid character?solid gold all the waythrough!" Somewhat more analytically but equally admiringly, Enno "Hank" Knoche,who served a stint as Red's executive assistant, commented: "What amazes me is thathe always knows the best thing to do?immediately?and it's always the most directand the simplest thing. I once asked his wife, Sue, whether this was only an officecharacteristic or was he always like that. She said he was always like that. She cotirewake him out of a sound sleep in the middle of the night with a comAcated problemto solve, and he would give her the answer without hesitating and go back to sleep."Red White acquired many admirers besides Sherman Kent and Hank Knocheduring his 25 years of service in CIA, the last six and a half of which he served asExecutive Director-Comptroller. He had so many admirers and well-wishers, in fact,that when it came time for him to retire in January 1972 it was necessary to hold threeretirement parties in order to accommodate all the Agency men and women whowanted to pay homage to Red and wish him godspeed. No other Agency officer, in myexperience, has commanded so much respect and affection. His was a splendid career.It began in a small town on the western edge of Tennessee where Red's father wasa Presbyterian minister. His boyhood there in the early 1920s sounds like real-lifeHoratio Alger: working as a farmhand from sun-up to sun-down for a dollar a day;delivering groceries with a horse and buggy from "opening to closing" for a dollar anda half; and, in his middle teens, digging ditches for the local water company and stack-ing lumber at the lumber yard for 10 hours a day for $2.50.When Red graduated from Troy High School in 1920 with a class of 23, his futurelooked unpromising. To be sure there were still ditches to dig and lumber to stack buthe wanted badly to break free from the tight confines of the small town. He knew thata college education was the answer but there was no money to fund it. The avenue heeventually found was the United States Military Academy at West Point, and how thatcame about is an amazing story in itself.Red is an inveterate story teller. He always has one available to illustrate a pointin the conversation, a true account of some incident in his career, and he tells it mas-terfully, with rich detail, simulated accent and tone of voice, and warm humor. Thebest story he tells, in my judgment, is the account of his obtaining the appointment toWest Point. In the spring of 1929, as Red tells it, he became aware by a friend thatthrough the Army it was possible to receive a free college education and be paid at thesame time. Realistically, it was far too late in the year for Red to pursue the possibilitybut out of mingled naivete and determination he set about anyway. Through his BoyScout Scoutmaster 'who had served as an Army chaplain in World War I he reached? With the publication of Jack Smith's affectionate portrait of Colonel White, the Board of Studieslaunches what it hopes will be a continuing series of authoritative sketches of Agency "greats" written bytheir contemporaries. Jack Smith's turn will come?the Editor.1Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. Whitethe'district 's congressman, a rising young star whom the party wished to reward. Theregion's military academy appointments had already been made for the fall term butthe young congressman was able to obtain an alternate appointment for Red.Lightning struck when the principal appointee for. West Point failed his entranceexamination, which Red because of his belated application had been unable to take.Appointment with the class entering 1 July 1929 was offered to Red contingent uponhis producing a satisfactory high school record and graduation certificate.This presented a major problem. The Troy High School was closed up tighterthan a bank vault, and the principal had taken up summer residence in a Kentuckytown 75 miles away. Doggedly, Red made his way there and found his man among thehardware, harnesses, and groceries of a general store. "But Lawrence," the principalobjected, "I can't make out a transcript for you here. All the records are back there inTroy." Then, seeing the pain and sharp disappointment sweep over the honest, openface, he said, "Well, sit down. Let's see if we can estimate your grades." Then, as Redtells it, ensued a bargaining session in which Red set as high a grade for each course ashe dared and the principal lowered it to a level he thought reasonable. Even so, theyended up with an "estimated" record that Red says could easily have made himcla-valedictorian.It did the trick. Back from the Academy came notification of his appointmentand an order to present himself in West Point, New York on 1 July with cash in handfor needed supplies and equipment. Counting transportation costs that came to $375.New problem: that amount of cash looked unreachable. Red took his story and hisproblem to three of the town's richest men, two business men and a dentist. Theyresponded by jointly putting together $375 and turning it over to Red without askinghim to sign a note or present collateral of any kind. They merely told him to pay themback when he could. People learned early in Red White's life that he was a man totrust.The cultural shock to the youngster from rural Tennessee, younger than all buttwo or three of the others, entering an academic environment where the average plebehad a year or more of special coaching or one or more years of college, wasstupendous. The military discipline and the athletic requirements were no problem,but the academic workload was at a level for which Troy High School had notprepared him and, as Red says,, "the first three months nearly killed me." He survivedby dint of unrelenting hard work, and he graduated in June 1933 with a ranking of287 out of 347, approximately 75 cadets having failed to complete the course. HisArmy career began as a second lieutenant, salary $125 a month with free quarters and$18 for subsistence.It began tranquilly in the Sixth Infantry at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri where hemet Elizabeth Jane (Sue) Flint of St. Louis whom he married in 1937 after finishingInfantry School at Fort Benning. They were posted first to Fort Sam Houston and thento Zamboagnga in the Philippines. When war clouds began to gather over the Pacificin 1941, wife Sue and baby Susan were sent home and Red followed in September onhis way to training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. Promotions came quickly: captain,1941: major, early 1942; lieutenant colonel, late 1942; and full colonel, 1943?at age31!Red's wartime career began in earnest in September 1942 when he returned tothe Pacific theater,- joining the 37th Division in Fiji. The names that subsequentlyappear in his record jacket are familiar: New Hebrides, Guadalcanal, New Georgia,Bougainville, Luzon. As Red says, it was the New Georgia campaign that gave him hisfirst baptism of fire, "and much more." Immediately after that he led an advancedetachment of 16 ashore at Vella la vella, debarking from rubber boats three days2Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. WhiteaheAl of the main assault, an intensely dangerous but successful operation. Then latein 1943 he took command of the 148th Infantry Regiment and led it into theprolonged battle for Bougainville.The climax of Red White's career came in early 1945, a brilliant but alsodisastrous climax. Commanding the 148th, Red led the advance from Lingayen to theoutskirts of Manila. Upon entering the city they found and released 1,300 Americanmilitary prisoners at Old Bilibid. Then the 148th made the first successful crossing ofthe Pasig River at Malcanan Palace, overcame determined resistance at the Pacorailway station, released thousands of patients and refugees held in captivity inPhilippine General Hospital, and captured the last remaining government buildingsheld by the Japanese. For all these feats of arms the 148th Infantry Regiment, ColonelLawrence K. White, Commanding received a Presidential Unit Citation.But the 148th and its Commander were not finished yet. They turned northwardfrom Manila to take part in the assault on the mountain stronghold of Baguio. Six milesshort of that objective the 148th's commander met disaster. One of the tanks leadingthe advancing column slid off the edge of the mountain road down a cliff. The coluniRhalted to tend the wounded and to re-group and during the pause Red went ahead onfoot to see what lay beyond a hairpin curve. He met head-on a Japanese tank-led suici-dal attack, and was seriously wounded in the fierce fighting that followed. He spentthe next two years progressing from one hospital to the next. In March 1947 Red wasretired from active service for the wounds he had received in combat.The Army career was over but the proud record remains, bespangled withmedals, decorations, and letters of commendation. The Army honored Red with theDistinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Oak LeafClusters, the Bronze Star Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters. But the letters ofcommendation from superior officers may be even more impressive. Lt. General0. W. Griswold, his Corps Commander, wrote, "one of the best and most skilfulregimental commanders I have ever seen," an officer whose -bravery is such-that henever asked a subordinate to go where he himself would not lead," a man whose"honesty and integrity are superior." Major General Robert S. Beightler, his DivisionCommander, was even more outspoken: "I can say, without hesitation and withcomplete sincerity, that Colonel White was the best regimental commander whoserved in my command during the entire war; for that matter, he was the mostcapable regimental commander I saw anywhere in the South Pacific." And for topdressing, "I don't think there was any officer in the Division more truly beloved by hissubordinates . . . than was Colonel White."Fresh out of the hospital, in fact still on convalescent leave, Red White took thesuggestion of an Army friend and walked into the offices of the Central IntelligenceGroup. To the good fortune of both Red and CIG/CIA he was immediately taken onand made deputy chief of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service, shortly laterbecoming chief. FBIS was a wartime operation just taken over by CIG, and theimmediate task was to restructure it for peacetime intelligence operation. It was atough managerial challenge which Red met with his usual blend of fair, objectiveinquiry and firm, impartial decision. During the next five years FBIS became a lean,effective organization and, with the construction of new stations on both the East andWest coasts of the United States and on Cyprus and Okinawa, and the forging of areciprocal arrangement with the British Broadcasting Corporation, it became a trulyglobal operation as well. In later years, as Red looked back, he thought fondly of hisFBIS days: -best job in the Agency," In fact, he always maintained a protective stancetoward the unit, as I discovered when I as Deputy Director for Intelligence wished to3Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. Whitemake some top-level personnel changes in FBIS and faced some tough questions fromRed as to the qualifications of my candidates. "Those jobs are too good to waste onmediocre people."After this auspicious beginning, White's star began to rise rapidly, especially afterthe arrival of Lieutenant General Walter Bedell Smith as Director of CIA. BeedleSmith, General Eisenhower's hard-jawed Chief of Staff and hatchet-man, demandedhigh performance?results not excuses?and he insisted on cleanly demarcated linesof responsibility. It did not take Beedle Smith long to discover the quietly effectiveColonel White, and he soon began to seek his judgment and to assign him tasks whichlay altogether outside Red's normal job. General Smith soon took care of that anomalyby making Red Assistant Deputy Director for Administration. At the same time, inorder to streamline administration throughout the Agency and to clarify responsibili-ties, Beedle Smith decreed that henceforth all elements of CIA would rely on the cen-tral administrative and support system instead of maintaining their own separatefacilities for personnel services, logistics, and other support functions. Then Beedleprivately informed Red he expected him to make the central system work.It was an exceedingly challenging and difficult task, especially in those inchaire,years in the early 1950s when CIA was a conglomerate of disparate !unctions buthardly a unified organization. The Clandestine Services, in particular, found it hard toaccept such integration, on security grounds as well as others, and when it came to thesensitive matters of specialized procurement, logistics, and communications they feltthey had needs which could not properly be met by a centralized support system.Nonetheless, it was General Beedle Smith's order that one be established forthwith,and Red set about the formidable task of winning confidence and making it work.By this time, early 1952, Allen Dulles had left his New York law office to rejointhe United States intelligence service, and it was with Dulles as Deputy Director(Plans) that Red had to deal on support for the Clandestine Services. Dulles was asskeptical as anyone about the desirability and feasibility of the central supportconcept, but gradually as these two men of good will worked together a mutualrespect, confidence, and trust became established. This was officially recognized in1954 when Dulles, by then DCI, promoted Red to Deputy Director (Administration)instead of bringing in an outsider with national reputation as had been his originalintention. Then, in early 1955 a bureaucratic foul-up in support enraged Dulles andcaused him to decree categorically to Red and Deputy Director (Plans) Frank Wisnerthat henceforth he would hold White personally responsible for all Agency administra-tive and support activities?no matter when or where they took place. Moreover,effective at once, all the personnel, communications, and training activities of theAgency were to come under Red's domain, and he was to be given a new title: DeputyDirector (Support).Back in 1952, when Bedell Smith had told Red he expected him to make the cen-tral support system work, he had also laid on him another gigantic task: over-allresponsibility for coordinating the planning and construction of the "new building."This initiative of the Eisenhower Administration, born out of an interest indecentralizing sensitive government installations to make them less vulnerable tostrategic attack, as well as a desire to get CIA out of the hodge-podge of temporarybuildings and old relics it then occupied throughout downtown Washington, was feltby most Agency professionals to be a long-distance and quite unattractive mirage. ButWhite had been given the task to perform, and he set about it with quiet persistence,feeling pretty lonely much of the time. To his surprise, Red found Dulles to be anenthusiastic ally. The two spent long hours exploring sites, studying architectural plans,and meeting with Congressional committees whose sanction was essential. Perhaps itwas these long and frequent meetings that did most to forge the bonds of confidenceApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. Whitebet%&en them. Allen Dulles loved the new building and took enormous pride in it,feeling perhaps that it would serve as a monument to him. He felt special affectionand gratitude to the man who had worked so tirelessly to bring it into being?RedWhite.Red tells dozen of stories about the Langley building but one of them isparticularly useful to re-tell, the story of the highway signs at the George WashingtonParkway and Chain Bridge Road entrances. (The pertinence of this story becomesrenewed annually when The Washington Post re-prints the canard that the Agencysought to hide its existence until right-thinking officials and, naturally, the power ofthe press forced it to come out of hiding.) Shortly after the Langley building wasopened for business Allen Dulles ordered entrance signs to be put up. He was led to dothis in part by an incident which had occurred earlier involving President Eisenhowerand his brother Milton. Milton had a Saturday morning appointment with BedellSmith and Allen Dulles, so after their breakfast at the White House the twoEisenhower brothers set out to find CIA Headquarters which was sitting unmarked at2430 E Street Northwest. The President of the United States was unable to find tbeoffice of his Director of Central Intelligence and with his brother angrily returned CZ...-the White House. Milton was then retrieved by Agency car and delivered to hisappointment an hour late. Bedell Smith took due notice of this episode and a sign pro-claiming the site of CIA was promply erected.The Kennedy Administration took office not long after Langley was opened, andby chance Robert F. Kennedy, took up residence in the neighborhood. As aconsequence, Bobby Kennedy passed the CIA entrance signs twice daily to and fromwork. He found them jarring. "The British don't advertise their secret service. Thosesigns should come down." President John F. Kennedy acceded to his brother's viewand ordered Allen Dulles to take the signs down. "But, Mr. President." protested Dul-les, "those signs help contractors and suppliers find the place. Besides, the location ismarked on every Exxon and National Geographic map of Washington. We can't hidefrom the American people." The President was adamant, however, so Dullesacquiesced verbally but in accord with sound bureaucratic practice took no action,thinking that the request might be forgotten. Unfortunately, Bobby Kennedy contin-ued to go to the office every day, and each day became irritated afresh by the signs.He complained once more, and the President got Allen Dulles on the telephone oneFriday morning. "Allen, if those signs are not taken down today, I'll come outtomorrow and take them down myself." Dulles gave in, and as usual, turned theproblem over to Red. He asked the Director of National Parks to take the signs down4 4as quietly as possible." Sometime after midnight they came down and for severalyears afterward the two entrances were marked only by the Bureau of Public Roadssigns, thus providing merriment for The Washington Post.Before leaving this account of Red White's thirteen and a half years as DeputyDirector (Administration/Support) it should be stressed that considerably more thanthe empathy he established with Allen Dulles was responsible for the success of thecentral support system. From the outset Red had a plan for developing a professionalsupport corps whose experience would range widely over the Agency's manifoldactivities and would include as a minimum: (1) a tour in a central support office inHeadquarters; (2) a tour in a DDP area division; and (3) a tour in a station overseas.Such a program required six years, at a minimum, just to establish a foundation onwhich to build. But Red was granted the necessary time by General Smith and hissuccessors, and the plan bore a most successful fruit. Anyone who has served overseasand had observed the contrast between CIA support services and those, let us say, ofthe Department of State can vouch for the success of the Smith-White concept.5Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. WhiteProfessionalism and a willingness to serve, a Can-Do approach, mark the work of theCIA support people, traits which reflect exactly two dominant characteristics of theirfounder.This willingness-to-serve approach sometimes was extended by White to verysmall details. For example, Sherman Kent's favorite pencils. Sherman, an inveteratecreator of complex, convoluted doodles, favored a certain kind of draughtsman'spencils for his artistic work, and usually bought them himself and carried a half dozenor so in his breast pocket. At a DCI meeting one morning, Sherm examined the #3pencil beside the yellow pad at his place and then threw it down in disgust. "Can'twrite with one of those things!" From his place beside Sherm, Red looked on withinterest, as Sherm took one of his stubby pencils out and began to construct somethingresembling a cluster of oyster eggs as seen through a high-powered microscope. "Youlike those pencils better? Could I try one?" "Sure. Try a decent pencil for a change."Red took the gift pencil back to his office after the meeting. He called in hisadministrative assistant and said, "Get me a gross of pencils just like this." WhenSherm arrived at his office at 8 o'clock next morning he found sitting in the center ofhis desk a gross of his favorite pencils.In 1965 several changes took place at the top of the Agency: Admiial William F.Raborn replaced John McCone as DCI; Richard Helms replaced General Marshall asDDCI; and Red White, at Dick Helm's invitation, replaced Lyman Kirkpatrick asExecutive Director-Comptroller. About a year and a half later, Admiral Raborn leftand Richard Helms succeeded him as DCI. Helms was the last of the line of DCI's forwhom Red had served. Reminiscing about this, Red says:I served under Vandenberg, Hillenkoetter, Smith, Dulles, McCone, Raborn,and Helms. Each had different problems and made different contributions. I feltclosest to and most admired Smith, Dulles, and Helms. Beedle set up a sensibleorganization and established the DCI in a position of preeminence. Who elsecould have done it at that point in history? Allen Dulles attracted and kept a lotof great people while the Agency grew into a professional shop. Neither of thesetwo great men, however, had Helms' problems. They lived in a time of plenty,during which the mystique of Intelligence was accepted on faith in most quartersand especially in Congress. All this had vanished when Helms became Director.Tighter budgets and tighter personnel ceilings, great rivalry within the Com-munity, particularly over scientific and technical programs, skepticism aboutestimates in the White House, and a greatly intensified investigative interest onthe part of Congress. The honeymoon was over!. . . I have the highest regard forDick Helms and the manner in which he handled the very difficult and complexproblems with which it was his duty to deal.It fell to White to take a leading role in dealing with the budgetary problemscreated by the new austerity. His response was to create under John Clarke a staffresponsible for Agency-wide coordination of programming, budgeting, and manage-ment. The shrieks and groans from the Deputy Directors were deafening (I was as vo-cal as any), but the new system soon found its legs. For the first time CIA had an inte-grated planning and budget process?essential once the days of unlimited budgets hadpassed.The Executive Director?Comptroller job was always something of an anomaly,something more than a staff job but a little less than a command-line post. Red saysthat he thought of himself "as having considerable influence but not really greatauthority. I saw myself more as an honest broker.- It probably was as an -honestbroker" that he made his most effective contribution to the Agency. As DDI I knowApproved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. Whitethat 4fond him enormously helpful that way. Every lieutenant knows that certainproblems are best presented to his chief not by himself but by a disinterested thirdparty. The problem may be an old one with a painful history, or one of peculiarinterest to the lieutenant, or difficult to discuss for any of a variety of reasons.Whenever I sought Red's advice on how to approach Dick Helms on one of the stickyones, Red would say, "I'll ask him. He may get sore but I don't mind. I'll ask him."Observing the straightforward simplicity with which Red said this I knew that hewould put the question to Dick in its best light, no twists or innuendoes, and the an-swer he would get would be the best anyone could get. Red had a wonderfully simpleway of putting the most complex questions. He seemed to retain a calm detachmentand, perhaps because he felt no involvement or embarrassment himself, the issueemerged shed of all emotion, as transparent as clear water. The person questioned,feeling no threat, found it easier to respond without resentment or anger. It is the sameskill essentially that enabled White with blinding directness to tell an officer he hadfailed miserably or committed an unimaginable stupidity, without raising a singlehackle on the offender's neck. It stunned and convinced but did not sting.Dick Helms, in a glowing farewell statement at Red White's retirement ceremon77_,in the Agency auditorium on 23 February 1972, paid tribute to this Honest Broker?..role:He has never come to me with a proposition from any of you withoutpresenting it forthrightly, accurately, and fairly. He has never taken advantage ofthe fact he had that private time with me to push his own marbles on his ownpoint of view. . . . As we would have these daily sessions late in the afternoon toclean up the Agency's business, I remember on various occasions I would noticehim rather settle his backside in the chair a little more firmly than normal, andthat was the signal he was about to bring forward something he knew I did notwant to approve, or something that was absolutely beyond the pale as far as I wasconcerned and had made myself felt on the subject many times before. But hewould brace himself, and then he would say, "Now I know you are not going tolike this-- So I would settle down and say, "All right, I'm not going to like it, so Imight as well be a good sport about it." But interestingly enough, Red alwaysknew when to stop, always knew when to retreat and regather his forces, alwaysknew that there might be a better day, if I was in a bad mood. He had thatremarkable sense of knowing when to stick his nose into somebody else's businessand when to keep it out?which I must say is something everyone might learnand learn from him.And over and above all this, his counsel has been wise and sensible?he hasbeen fair to everyone?and as he leaves the Agency today we are sad, andgenuinely so, to see him go. He will be sorely missed. He has meant a great deal toall of us, and he has been a tower of strength to me.When Dick Helms had finished this handsome description of the way Red Whitecarried out his duties and had honored Red's fairness, his tact, and his good sense, hemust have felt that although everything he had said to that point was true there wasstill more to say. Like Red White's World War II Army generals, like Allen Dulles,and like all the rest of us, he felt that an account of the manner in which Red did hiswork did not adequately sum up the man. So Dick turned for help elsewhere:I was looking over some writing the other day and as I re-read it, it seemedto me that these words describe Red White better than I can do it, May I readthem:He was incapable of fear, meeting personal dangers with the calmestunconcern. Perhaps the strongest feature in his character was prudence,Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254 Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254Colonel Lawrence K. Whitenever acting until every circumstance, every consideration was maturelyweighed. Refraining if he saw a doubt, but when once decided, goingthrough with his purpose, whatever obstacles opposed. His integrity wasmost pure, his justice the most inflexible I have ever known. No motives ofinterest or consanguinity, of friendship or hatred, being able to bias hisdecision. He was indeed in every sense of the words a wise and a good man.Those words are part of an appraisal of George Washington written by ThomasJefferson. They fit Red White very well indeed.To these words of honor by Thomas Jefferson and by Richard Helms this writerhas nothing to add.Approved for Release: 2014/07/29 000617254