Eisenhower commanded the fledgling tank corps training center at Camp Colt outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, during World War I. Following service in Panama, he graduated first in his class at the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1926. He also graduated from the Army War College in 1928. During the interwar period, Eisenhower served under a number of the army's finest officers, including Generals Fox Conner, John J. Pershing, and Douglas A. MacArthur. Following his return from the Philippines in 1939, he served successively as chief of staff of the 3rd Infantry Division, IX Corps, and Third Army, where he was promoted to temporary brigadier general in October 1941 and captured Army Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall's attention for his contributions to Third Army's "victory" in the Texas-Louisiana war maneuvers of 1941.
Summoned to the War Department in the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Eisenhower headed the War Plans Division and then the Operations Division of the General Staff before being promoted to major general in April 1942. Marshall then appointed Eisenhower commanding general of the European Theater of Operations, in June 1942. Promotion to lieutenant general followed in July 1942. His appointment was met with great skepticism from senior British military officers because of his lack of command experience.
Eisenhower commanded Allied forces in Operation torch in November 1942 (the invasion of northwest Africa) and in Operation husky in July 1943 (the invasion of Sicily). In the interim, he was promoted to full general in February 1943. The efficient operation of his headquarters—Allied Forces Headquarters—became a model of Allied harmony and led to increased responsibilities in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. In September 1943, his forces invaded the Italian mainland. Eisenhower's generalship during this phase of the war has long been subject to controversy, but his adept management of diverse personalities and his emphasis on Allied harmony led to his appointment as supreme commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces for the invasion of northwest Europe.
As commander of Operation overlord, the Normandy Invasion on 6 June 1944, Eisenhower headed the largest Allied force in history. Following the expansion of the lodgment area, he took direct command of the land battle on 1 September 1944. As the Allied forces advanced along a broad front toward the German border, he frequently encountered opposition from senior Allied generals over command arrangements and logistical support. He displayed increasing brilliance as a coalition commander, but his operational decisions remained controversial. His support of British Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery's abortive Operation market-garden is evidence of his unflinching emphasis on Allied harmony in the campaign in northwest Europe. In mid-December 1944, Eisenhower was promoted to General of the Army as his forces stood poised to strike into the heartland of Germany.
When Adolf Hitler launched the Ardennes counteroffensive on 16 December 1944, it was Eisenhower, among senior Allied commanders, who first recognized the scope and intensity of Germany's attack. Marshaling forces to stem the German advance, he defeated Hitler's last offensive in the west. By March 1945, his armies had crossed the Rhine River and encircled the Ruhr industrial area of Germany. As Soviet armies stood on the outskirts of Berlin, Eisenhower decided to seek the destruction of Germany's armed forces throughout southern Germany and not to launch a direct attack toward the German capital. On 7 May 1945, the mission of the Allied Expeditionary Forces was fulfilled as he accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany's armed forces.
Following the war, Eisenhower succeeded General Marshall as army chief of staff. In February 1948, he retired from the military and assumed the presidency of Columbia University, before being recalled to active field duty by President Harry S Truman in 1950 to become supreme Allied commander, Europe in the newly formed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In 1952, Eisenhower resigned from active military service and accepted the Republican Party's nomination for president. Elected by a wide majority in 1952 and again in 1956, he stressed nuclear over conventional forces, supported expanded U.S. military commitments overseas, and warned of the dangers of a military-industrial complex. He left office in 1961 as one of this nation's most popular chief executives, his two administrations marked by unheralded peace and prosperity. In 1961, Eisenhower retired to his farm in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. He died in Washington, D.C., on 28 March 1969. Cole C. Kingseed
Ambrose, Stephen E. Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983.; Chandler, Alfred D., et al., eds. The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower: The War Years. Vols. 1–4. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970.; D'Este, Carlo. Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. New York: Henry Holt, 2002.; Eisenhower, David. Eisenhower at War, 1943–1945. New York: Random House, 1986.; Eisenhower, Dwight D. Crusade in Europe. New York: Doubleday, 1948.
Cole C. Kingseed