The Empire Files | The Pontiac Tribune
Abby Martin interviews retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former national security advisor to the Reagan administration, who spent years as an assistant to Secretary of State Colin Powell during both Bush administrations.
Wilkerson was born in Gaffney, South Carolina. After three years of studying philosophy and English literature at Bucknell University, Wilkerson dropped out in 1966 and volunteered to serve in the Vietnam War. He told the Washington Post: “I felt an obligation because my dad had fought, and I thought that was kind of your duty.”
Wilkerson arrived as an Army officer piloting an OH-6A Cayuse observation helicopter and logged about 1100 combat hours over a year. He flew low and slow through Vietnam, and was involved in one incident in which he says he prevented a war crime by purposely placing his helicopter between a position that was full of civilians, and another helicopter that wanted to launch an attack on the position. He also had many vocal disagreements with his superiors and his own gunner crew over free-fire zones, including an incident in which one of his crew shot a wagon that wound up having a little girl inside it. He went on to Airborne School and Ranger School before receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in English literature and graduate degrees in international relations and national security. He attended the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island and later returned there to teach. He later served as deputy director of the Marine Corps War College at Quantico.
Wilkerson spent some years in the United States Navy’s Pacific Command in South Korea, Japan and Hawaii, where he was well regarded by his superiors. These recommendations led in early 1989 to a successful interview to become the assistant to Colin Powell, who was then finishing his stint as National Security Advisor in the Reagan administration and moving to a position in the United States Army Forces Command at Fort McPherson. He continued this supporting role as Powell became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff through the Gulf War, following Powell into civilian life and then back into public service when President George W. Bush appointed Powell Secretary of State.
Wilkerson was responsible for a review of information from the Central Intelligence Agency that was used to prepare Powell for his February 2003 presentation to the United Nations Security Council.