Creighton Abrams
Overview
 
Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. (September 15, 1914 – September 4, 1974) was a general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 from 1968–72 which saw U.S. troop strength in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 fall from a peak of 543,000 to 49,000. He served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

 from 1972 until shortly before his death in 1974. In honor of Abrams, the U.S. Army named the XM1 main battle tank the M1 Abrams
M1 Abrams
The M1 Abrams is a third-generation main battle tank produced in the United States. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972. The M1 is a well armed, heavily armored, and highly mobile tank designed for...

. The IG Farben building
IG Farben Building
The IG Farben Building or the Poelzig Building was built from 1928 to 1930 as the corporate headquarters of the IG Farben conglomerate in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is also known as the Poelzig Ensemble or Poelzig Complex, and previously as the IG Farben Complex, and the General Creighton W....

 was also named after him from 1975 to 1995.
Creighton Williams Abrams Jr.
Quotations

They've got us surrounded again, the poor bastards.

Uttered during the Battle of the Bulge|Battle of the Bulge

Give a soldier an anvil, just a hunk of metal, and drive him out into the desert and leave him. In two weeks - when you go to get him, the anvil will be broken.

On the need for a soldier proof tank.

When eating an elephant take one at a time.

Encyclopedia
Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. (September 15, 1914 – September 4, 1974) was a general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

 in the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

 who commanded military operations in the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 from 1968–72 which saw U.S. troop strength in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 fall from a peak of 543,000 to 49,000. He served as Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

 from 1972 until shortly before his death in 1974. In honor of Abrams, the U.S. Army named the XM1 main battle tank the M1 Abrams
M1 Abrams
The M1 Abrams is a third-generation main battle tank produced in the United States. It is named after General Creighton Abrams, former Army Chief of Staff and Commander of US military forces in Vietnam from 1968 to 1972. The M1 is a well armed, heavily armored, and highly mobile tank designed for...

. The IG Farben building
IG Farben Building
The IG Farben Building or the Poelzig Building was built from 1928 to 1930 as the corporate headquarters of the IG Farben conglomerate in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. It is also known as the Poelzig Ensemble or Poelzig Complex, and previously as the IG Farben Complex, and the General Creighton W....

 was also named after him from 1975 to 1995.

Early career

Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. graduated from West Point
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 in 1936 and served with the 1st Cavalry Division from 1936 to 1940, being promoted to first lieutenant in 1939 and temporary captain in 1940.

Abrams became an armor officer early in the development of that branch and served as a tank company commander in the 1st Armored Division in 1940.

World War II

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, he served with the 4th Armored Division
U.S. 4th Armored Division
The 4th Armored Division of the United States Army was an armored division that compiled a distinguished career in the European theater of World War II. Unlike many other World War II U.S. armored divisions, the 4th never adopted an official divisional nickname or slogan...

, initially as regimental adjutant
Adjutant
Adjutant is a military rank or appointment. In some armies, including most English-speaking ones, it is an officer who assists a more senior officer, while in other armies, especially Francophone ones, it is an NCO , normally corresponding roughly to a Staff Sergeant or Warrant Officer.An Adjutant...

 (June 1941 - June 1942) then as a battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

 commander (July 1942 - March 1943), and regiment
Regiment
A regiment is a major tactical military unit, composed of variable numbers of batteries, squadrons or battalions, commanded by a colonel or lieutenant colonel...

 executive officer (March 1943 - September 1943) with the US 37th Armor Regiment. A reorganization of the division created a new battalion
Battalion
A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

, the 37th Tank Battalion, which he commanded until he was promoted to command Combat Command
Combat command
A Combat Command was a combined-arms military organization of comparable size to a brigade or regiment employed by armored forces of the U.S. Army from 1942 until 1963...

 B of the division in March 1945. During this time he was promoted to the temporary ranks of major
Major (United States)
In the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, major is a field grade military officer rank just above the rank of captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel...

 (February 1942) and lieutenant-colonel (September 1943).

During much of this time his unit was at the spearhead of the 4th Armored Division and the US Third Army, and he was consequently well known as an aggressive armor commander. By using his qualities as a leader and by consistently exploiting the relatively small advantages of speed and reliability of his vehicles, he managed to defeat German forces that had the advantage of superior armor and superior guns. He was twice decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross
Distinguished Service Cross (United States)
The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest military decoration that can be awarded to a member of the United States Army, for extreme gallantry and risk of life in actual combat with an armed enemy force. Actions that merit the Distinguished Service Cross must be of such a high degree...

, second only to the Medal of Honor
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the United States government. It is bestowed by the President, in the name of Congress, upon members of the United States Armed Forces who distinguish themselves through "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her...

, for actions on September 20, 1944 and December 26, 1944.

On April 23, 1945, Will Lang Jr.
Will Lang Jr.
William John Lang Jr. was an American journalist and a bureau head for Life magazine.- Early career :...

 wrote a biography called "Colonel Abe" for Life (magazine)
Life (magazine)
Life generally refers to three American magazines:*A humor and general interest magazine published from 1883 to 1936. Time founder Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936 solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name....



Abrams was known as an aggressive and successful armor commander. General George Patton said of him: "I'm supposed to be the best tank commander in the Army, but I have one peer — Abe Abrams. He's the world champion." Frequently the spearhead of the Third Army during World War II, Abrams was one of the leaders in the relief effort that broke up the German
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 entrenchments surrounding Bastogne
Bastogne
Bastogne Luxembourgish: Baaschtnech) is a Walloon municipality of Belgium located in the province of Luxembourg in the Ardennes. The municipality of Bastogne includes the old communes of Longvilly, Noville, Villers-la-Bonne-Eau, and Wardin...

 and the 101st Airborne Division
101st Airborne Division
The 101st Airborne Division—the "Screaming Eagles"—is a U.S. Army modular light infantry division trained for air assault operations. During World War II, it was renowned for its role in Operation Overlord, the D-Day landings on 6 June 1944, in Normandy, France, Operation Market Garden, the...

 during the Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major German offensive , launched toward the end of World War II through the densely forested Ardennes mountain region of Wallonia in Belgium, hence its French name , and France and...

.

He was noted for his concern for soldiers, his emphasis on combat readiness, and his insistence on personal integrity.

Between wars

Following the war he served on the Army General Staff (1945–1946), as head of the department of tactics at the Armored School, Fort Knox
Fort Knox
Fort Knox is a United States Army post in Kentucky south of Louisville and north of Elizabethtown. The base covers parts of Bullitt, Hardin, and Meade counties. It currently holds the Army Human Resources Center of Excellence to include the Army Human Resources Command, United States Army Cadet...

 (1946–1948), and graduated from the Command and General Staff College
Command and General Staff College
The United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas is a graduate school for United States Army and sister service officers, interagency representatives, and international military officers. The college was established in 1881 by William Tecumseh Sherman as a...

 at Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth
Fort Leavenworth is a United States Army facility located in Leavenworth County, Kansas, immediately north of the city of Leavenworth in the upper northeast portion of the state. It is the oldest active United States Army post west of Washington, D.C. and has been in operation for over 180 years...

 (1949). He was briefly promoted to (temporary) colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 in 1945 but reverted to lieutenant colonel during World War II demobilization.

He commanded the 63d Tank Battalion, part of the 1st Infantry Division
U.S. 1st Infantry Division
The 1st Infantry Division of the United States Army is the oldest division in the United States Army. It has seen continuous service since its organization in 1917...

, in Europe (1949–1951). He was again promoted to colonel and commanded the 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment (1951–1952). These units were important assignments due to the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 concern for potential invasion of western Europe by the Soviet Union. He then attended and graduated from the Army War College in 1953.

During his tenure in Germany he was on the cover of Time Magazine on October 13, 1961. He was to grace the covers again on April 19, 1968, and February 15, 1971.

Korean Service

Due to his service in Europe and his War College tour, he joined the Korean War late in the conflict.
He successively served as chief of staff of the I, X, and IX Corps in Korea (1953–1954).

Staff Assignments and Division Command

Upon return from Korea he served as Chief of Staff of the Armor Center, Fort Knox
Fort Knox
Fort Knox is a United States Army post in Kentucky south of Louisville and north of Elizabethtown. The base covers parts of Bullitt, Hardin, and Meade counties. It currently holds the Army Human Resources Center of Excellence to include the Army Human Resources Command, United States Army Cadet...

 (1954–1956). He was promoted to brigadier general
Brigadier general (United States)
A brigadier general in the United States Army, Air Force, and Marine Corps, is a one-star general officer, with the pay grade of O-7. Brigadier general ranks above a colonel and below major general. Brigadier general is equivalent to the rank of rear admiral in the other uniformed...

 and appointed deputy chief of staff for reserve components at the Pentagon (1956–1959). He was assistant division commander of 3rd Armored Division (1959–60) and then commanded the division (1960–62) upon his promotion to major general
Major general (United States)
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general-officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general...

.

He was then transferred to the Pentagon as deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (1962–63), then was promoted to lieutenant general
Lieutenant General (United States)
In the United States Army, the United States Air Force and the United States Marine Corps, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general...

 and commanded V Corps in Europe (1963–1965).

Vietnam

Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. was promoted to General in 1964 and appointed Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Vice Chief of Staff of the United States Army is the principal advisor and assistant to the Army Chief of Staff, the second-highest ranking officer in the US Army. He handles the day to day administration of the Army bureaucracy, freeing the Chief of Staff to attend to the interservice...

, but not before being seriously considered as a candidate for Chief of Staff. Due to concerns about the conduct of the Vietnam War, he was appointed as deputy to General William Westmoreland
William Westmoreland
William Childs Westmoreland was a United States Army General, who commanded US military operations in the Vietnam War at its peak , during the Tet Offensive. He adopted a strategy of attrition against the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam and the North Vietnamese Army. He later served as...

, head of the Military Assistance Command in Vietnam, in May 1967. Abrams would succeed Westmoreland as commander on June 10, 1968, although his tenure of command was not marked by the public optimism of his predecessors, who were prone to press conferences and public statements. While Westmoreland had for years run the war using search-and-destroy tactics, these gave way to the clear-and-hold strategies that Abrams was so keen to implement. Under his authority, American forces were broken up into small units that would live with and train the South Vietnamese civilians to defend their villages from guerrilla or conventional Northern incursions with heavy weapons. Abrams also devoted vastly more time than his predecessor had to expanding, training, and equipping the ARVN. In contrast to Westmoreland, Abrams implemented counterinsurgent methods that focused on winning the hearts and minds of the population. Nevertheless, there was still more continuity than change in Vietnam after Abrams succeeded Westmoreland.

This strategy was successful, as evidenced by the ability of ARVN forces to repel a full-scale NVA
Vietnam People's Army
The Vietnam People's Army is the armed forces of Vietnam. The VPA includes: the Vietnamese People's Ground Forces , the Vietnam People's Navy , the Vietnam People's Air Force, and the Vietnam Marine Police.During the French Indochina War , the VPA was often referred to as the Việt...

 Easter Offensive in 1972 with US aerial support. Following the election of President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

, Abrams began implementing the Nixon Doctrine
Nixon Doctrine
The Nixon Doctrine was put forth in a press conference in Guam on July 25, 1969 by U.S. President Richard Nixon. He stated that the United States henceforth expected its allies to take care of their own military defense, but that the U.S. would aid in defense as requested...

 referred to as Vietnamization
Vietnamization
Vietnamization was a policy of the Richard M. Nixon administration during the Vietnam War, as a result of the Viet Cong's Tet Offensive, to "expand, equip, and train South Vietnam's forces and assign to them an ever-increasing combat role, at the same time steadily reducing the number of U.S....

. The doctrine aimed to decrease U.S. involvement in Vietnam. With this new goal, Abrams had decreased American troop strength from a peak of 543,000 in early 1969 to 49,000 in June 1972. That same year, Abrams stepped down from the Military Assistance Command. However, while Abrams was changing the way the war was fought, the prolonged efforts and expense of the war had by then exhausted much of the American public and political support. Abrams disdained most of the politicians with whom he was forced to deal, in particular Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

 and McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge Bundy
McGeorge "Mac" Bundy was United States National Security Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson from 1961 through 1966, and president of the Ford Foundation from 1966 through 1979...

, and had an even lower opinion of defense contractors whom he accused of war profiteering.

Abrams was also in charge of the Cambodian Incursion
Cambodian Incursion
The Cambodian Campaign was a series of military operations conducted in eastern Cambodia during mid-1970 by the United States and the Republic of Vietnam during the Vietnam War. These invasions were a result of policy of President Richard Nixon whose decision it was to invade...

 in 1970. Troop levels in Vietnam eventually reached 25,000 in January 1973, at the time of the four power Paris Peace Accords
Paris Peace Accords
The Paris Peace Accords of 1973 intended to establish peace in Vietnam and an end to the Vietnam War, ended direct U.S. military involvement, and temporarily stopped the fighting between North and South Vietnam...

. Although it occurred before he assumed total command, he bore the brunt of fallout from the My Lai massacre
My Lai Massacre
The My Lai Massacre was the Vietnam War mass murder of 347–504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968, by United States Army soldiers of "Charlie" Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. Most of the victims were women, children , and...

 in March 1968.

Chief of Staff

General Abrams was appointed Chief of Staff of the United States Army
Chief of Staff of the United States Army
The Chief of Staff of the Army is a statutory office held by a four-star general in the United States Army, and is the most senior uniformed officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, and as such is the principal military advisor and a deputy to the Secretary of the Army; and is in...

 in June 1972, after serving in the Military Assistance Command. However, he was not confirmed by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 until October 1972 due to political repercussions involving insubordination by one of his subordinate commanders. It has also been reported that Congress had delayed the confirmation to question the administration's war in Cambodia.

During this time, Abrams began the transition to the all-volunteer Army. The General would serve in this position until his death, due to complications from surgery in September 1974. A heavy cigar smoker, General Abrams suffered from lung cancer.

Personal life

Creighton Williams Abrams Jr. was born in Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield, Massachusetts
Springfield is the most populous city in Western New England, and the seat of Hampden County, Massachusetts, United States. Springfield sits on the eastern bank of the Connecticut River near its confluence with three rivers; the western Westfield River, the eastern Chicopee River, and the eastern...

, on September 15, 1914.

Abrams married Julia Bertha Abrams (1915–2003) in 1936. Julia Abrams founded the Army group of Arlington Ladies
Arlington Ladies
The Arlington Ladies are a group of women who attend the funeral of every member of the armed services who is buried at Arlington National Cemetery...

 and devoted a great deal of her time to humanitarian causes.

The Abrams had three sons and three daughters. All three sons became Army general officers: Brigadier General Creighton Williams Abrams III, retired Army General John Nelson Abrams and Major General Robert Bruce Abrams.
Daughters Noel Bradley, Jeanne Daley and Elizabeth Doyle all married Army officers.

Creighton died of lung cancer in Washington D.C. after being re-admitted to Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
The Walter Reed Army Medical Center was the United States Army's flagship medical center until 2011. Located on 113 acres in Washington, D.C., it served more than 150,000 active and retired personnel from all branches of the military...

, where he previously had a cancerous lung removed. He was the first Army chief of staff to die in office.

Abrams is buried with his wife in Section 21 of Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington County, Virginia, is a military cemetery in the United States of America, established during the American Civil War on the grounds of Arlington House, formerly the estate of the family of Confederate general Robert E. Lee's wife Mary Anna Lee, a great...

.
Julia Abrams was 87 when she died from congestive heart failure and emphysema on Jan 31, 2003 in Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

External links

  • Arlington Cemetery website
  • Interview with Lewis Sorley on Vietnam Chronicles: The Abrams Tapes 1968-1972 at the Pritzker Military Library
    Pritzker Military Library
    The Pritzker Military Library is a research library for the study of military history in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded in 2003 by COL James N. Pritzker, IL ARNG to be a non-partisan institution for the study of "the citizen soldier as an essential element for the preservation of...

  • Source of quotes
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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