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Historical Dictionary

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LANSDALE, EDWARD GEARY (1908–1987)

Prominent American intelligence officer in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) active in Southeast Asia during the Indochina War. Born in Detroit, Michigan, he served in the European theatre in the OSS during World War II. In 1945, he transferred to the Philippines with the rank of major and was appointed chief of the Intelligence Division in the Headquarters Air Forces Western Pacific. Until 1948, he helped resolve cases of US soldiers missing in action and collaborated with the Filipino military in rebuilding their intelligence services. He returned to the Philippines in 1950 on the personal request of President Elpidio Quirino and joined the Joint United States Military Assistance Group there. He helped Filipino Defense Minister Ramon Magsaysay stamp out a communist insurgency, the Huks, and developed Filipino psycho-lo-gical operations in order to combat this new type of war. Lansdale was named colonel in 1951.

In light of his counter-insurgency experience, the CIA dispatched Lansdale to Vietnam in 1953 to help the Associated State of Vietnam led by Bao Dai. Lansdale worked again in Indochina between 1954 and 1956. During this time, he served in Saigon training and advising on counter-insurgency techniques, engineering anti-communist propaganda, and entering into contact with militia groups and religious groups in the south, such as the Cao Dai and Trinh Minh The. After the Geneva Conference confirmed the withdrawal of the French, Lansdale threw his weight behind the Republic of Vietnam and its new leader, Ngo Dinh Diem. He also trained Pham Xuan An, who had recently gone to work as a mole for the DRV secret services. Lansdale’s autobiography is entitled In the Midst of Wars: An American’s Mission to Southeast Asia (1972). See also ANTOINE SAVANI; GROUPEMENT DE COMMANDOS MIXTES AÉROPORTÉS (GCMA); MARCEL BAZIN; MAURICE BELLEUX; NOVELS, FRENCH; SERVICE ACTION; SERVICE DE DOCUMENTATION EXTERIEURE ET DE CONTRE-ESPIONNAGE.