Andrew Jackson Goodpaster (born 1915) was a career Army officer who played a major role in organizing NATO forces in Europe; served as adviser to presidents Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon; and served brief terms as commander of the National War College and of West Point.
Andrew Jackson Goodpaster was born in Granite City, Illinois, on February 12, 1915. He graduated second in his class from West Point in 1939 and served with Army Corps of Engineer outfits in Panama and Louisiana. In World War II he saw action as commanding officer of an engineer battalion in North Africa and Italy. In the years after World War II, Goodpaster established ties that would significantly influence his career. In August 1944 he went to the Operations Division of the General Staff in Washington, D.C. Remaining thereafter V-J Day, he became closely associated with Army Chief of Staff Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Goodpaster was a pioneer among the new breed of postwar "army intellectuals," officers with extensive postgraduate training in civilian universities. He took a Masters degree in engineering from Princeton University in 1948 and a Ph.D. in international relations in 1950.
When General Eisenhower assumed command of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces in Europe, Goodpaster joined him, serving as assistant to the chief of staff, Gen. Alfred Gruenther. In that capacity Goodpaster played a major role in helping to organize NATO forces and define the political and military aims of the fledgling alliance.
In 1954 Goodpaster joined President Eisenhower as staff secretary in the White House. Eisenhower had organized his presidency along the lines of a military chain of command, and Goodpaster was a key figure. He maintained liaison with all departments engaged in national security issues and coordinated cabinet operations. Working closely with presidential "chief of staff" Sherman Adams, Goodpaster helped to determine which issues would be brought to the president, briefed Eisenhower daily on foreign and defense policy matters, and attended all cabinet and National Security Council meetings. He made sure that key figures were not left out of policy discussions, and he saw that Eisenhower's decisions were executed. He came to know his boss so intimately and was able to anticipate his wishes so well that he became known as the president's alter ego. Following the end of the Eisenhower administration, Goodpaster returned briefly to Europe, serving as commander of the 8th Infantry Division.
He came back to Washington in November 1962 and remained there for the next seven years, holding a number of different staff positions. He served as a special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor. In August 1966 he became director of the joint staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and in May 1967 he was chosen to be the Army representative on the United Nations Military Staff Command. From July 1967 to June 1968 he was commandant of the National War College.
During these same years Goodpaster carried out important tasks related to the Vietnam War. President Lyndon B. Johnson described him as "one of the ablest officers I knew" and used him to maintain liaison with former President Eisenhower. At Johnson's direction Goodpaster regularly briefed Eisenhower on the course of the war and carried back to Johnson the former president's personal advice and recommendations. Goodpaster also made several trips to Vietnam with groups sent to survey developments there, and while with the Joint Chiefs and the National War College he supervised major study projects relating to various aspects of the war. From May to July 1968 Goodpaster was the U.S. military representative at the Paris peace talks. He then went to Vietnam as deputy to Commanding General Creighton Abrams.
Goodpaster served as chief military adviser to President-elect Nixon during the transition period and continued to play important political and military roles in the Nixon years. In July 1969 he assumed the position of supreme allied commander in Europe, which he held until October 1974.
Following his retirement from the Army in December 1974 Goodpaster became a senior fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He subsequently held the John C. West Chair of Government and International Studies at The Citadel.
In a move that was without precedent, he was called out of retirement in April 1977 to become superintendent of West Point in the wake of a cheating scandal that had severely tarnished the reputation of that venerable institution. He remained at West Point until 1981.
Goodpaster was described by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as a "man of vast experience, great honor, and considerable ability." A tireless worker, Goodpaster was utterly devoted to the Army he served for so many years. After his second retirement he was president of the Institute for Defense Analysis, a private think tank in the Washington area. In 1996, Goodpaster with other generals and world-wide political figures helped to determine what steps, both practical and political, needed to be taken to abolish nuclear weapons.
The Eisenhower staff system is capably and sympathetically analyzed in Fred I. Greenstein, The Hidden-Hand Presidency (1982). The handling of the Vietnam War during the Johnson years is covered in Maxwell D. Taylor, Swords and Ploughshares (1972) and in Lyndon B. Johnson, The Vantage Point (1971). Recent articles referencing Goodpaster include Bill Gertz, " U.S. still needs nukes, official says," The Washington Times (February 23, 1997) and Alan Cranston, "Even the generals disagree," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (November 21, 1996).