During the Second World War, America possessed the great military leaders needed to guide its armed forces successfully through that terrible ordeal. Those leaders, whose prewar origins have often been obscure, met the challenges of worldwide conflict and went on to provide direction for the United States in the turbulent decades that followed. One of those legendary figures was Omar Nelson Bradley, General of the Army and first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Bradley was a product of the American interwar Army, an institution that produced men like George C. Marshall, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and George S. Patton. Small in size and lacking modern equipment, the U.S. Army of the 1920s and 1930s focused on education and doctrine and, when in could afford to do so, on training. Officers like Omar Bradley honed their leadership and warfighting skills during this seemingly somnolent period in American military history and the led America's Army through war and peace in the difficult decades of the 1940s and 1950s.
To better understand the development of such leaders, this pamphlet traces the young Bradley through the prewar period and follows his rapid transition to positions of greater authority during the war years and ultimately his assumption of greater responsibilities in the changing postwar world. This short biography, written by Dr. Charles E. Kirkpatrick in remembrance of the one hundredth anniversary of Bradley's birth, gives us an opportunity to reflect on how military service has prepared so many Americans to contribute so much to the Nation and the world.
- General of the Army Omar Nelson Bradley, Chief of Staff, United States Army. Portrait by Clarence Lamont MacNelly, 1972.