In the year 1987, Powell, then an Army Lieutenant General, became Ronald Reagan’s National Security Advisor following the Iran-Contra Affair. In 1989, Colin left his position as National Security Advisor, and under the George H.W. Bush administration, he was made a four-star general. He then went on to serve as Commander in Chief, Forces Command. During this post, he oversaw all Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units in continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. His tenure in this post was very brief before President George H.W. Bush selected him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“The chief condition on which, life, health, and vigor depend on, is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.” – Colin Luther Powell
On October 1, 1989, at the age of fifty-two Powell became the first Afro-Caribbean American as well as the youngest officer to become Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Throughout his time as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he oversaw many crises some of which include the Invasion of Panama (1989) and Operation Desert Storm which was a part of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. During his tenure, his use of overwhelming force in military operations to maximize the potential for success and reduce the number of casualties became known as the “Powell Doctrine”. Throughout his tenure, he very infrequently advocated for military intervention for international crisis; he usually advocated for democracy and containment. Initially, Powell stayed on as Chairman during President Bill Clinton’s administration however, he ultimately left the position on September 30, 1993, because he thought he was a bad fit in an administration made up of most liberals. During his tenure, there was talk about granting him a fifth star which in turn would have made him General of the Army. However, even though Congress and the public pressured it, Bill Clinton’s presidential transition team decided against it.