Previously Aired On: Monday, March 17, 2008 – Listen to the Show!
General Odom earned a national reputation as an expert on the Soviet Union. Early in his military career he had an opportunity to observe Soviet military activities while serving as a military liaison in Potsdam, Germany. Later, he taught courses in Russian history at West Point, New York, and while serving at the United States embassy in Moscow in the early 1970s, he visited all of the republics of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
Upon returning to the United States, he resumed his career at West Point where he taught courses in Soviet politics. Odom regularly stressed the importance of education for military officers.
In 1977, he was appointed as the military assistant to Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish assistant to the president (Carter) for national security affairs. Primary issues he focused on at this time included American-Soviet relations, including the SALT nuclear weapons talks, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iran hostage crisis, presidential directives on the situation in the Persian Gulf, terrorism and hijackings, and the executive order on telecommunications policy.
From 2 November 1981 to 12 May 1985, Odom served as the Army’s Assistant Chief of Staff for Intelligence. From 1985 to 1988, he served as the director of the National Security Agency, the United States’ largest intelligence agency, under president Ronald Reagan.
General Odom specializes in military issues, intelligence, and international relations. He is also an adjunct professor at Yale University and Georgetown University, where he teaches seminar courses in U.S. National Security Policy and Russian Politics.
Since 2005 he has argued that US interests would be best served by an immediate withdrawal from Iraq, calling the Iraq war the worst strategic blunder in the history of U.S. foreign policy. He has also been critical of the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping of international calls, saying “it wouldn’t have happened on my watch”.
General Odom is a member of the Military Intelligence Hall of Fame.