About General Walter Bedell Smith, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union, Director of Central Intelligence
Walter Bedell "Beetle" Smith (5 October 1895 – 9 August 1961) was a senior United States Army general who served as General Dwight D. Eisenhower's chief of staff at Allied Forces Headquarters during the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy. Later he was Eisenhower's chief of staff at Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) from 1944 to 1945.
Smith enlisted as a private in the Indiana National Guard in 1911. During World War I he was commissioned as an officer in 1917 and wounded in the Aisne-Marne Offensive in 1918. After the war he was a staff officer and an instructor at the United States Army Infantry School. In 1941 he became Secretary of the General Staff. The next year he became Secretary to the Combined Chiefs of Staff. His duties involved participation in discussions at the highest level, and Smith often briefed President Franklin D. Roosevelt on strategic matters.
Smith became chief of staff to Eisenhower at Allied Forces Headquarters (AFHQ) in September 1942. He acquired a reputation as Eisenhower's "hatchet man" for his brusque and demanding manner. However, he was also capable of representing Eisenhower on sensitive missions requiring diplomatic skill. Smith was involved in negotiating the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces, which he signed on behalf of Eisenhower. In 1944 he became Chief of Staff of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF), again under Eisenhower. He successfully negotiated food aid for the starving Dutch civilian population in the cities in the west of the country, and opened discussions for the peaceful and complete German capitulation in Holland. In May 1945 he met with the representatives of the German High Command to negotiate the surrender of the German Armed Forces.
After the war he served as Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1946 to 1948. He became Director of Central Intelligence, the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, in 1950. Smith reorganized the agency, redefined its structure and mission, and gave it a new sense of purpose. He made the CIA the arm of government primarily responsible for covert operations. He left the CIA in 1953 to become Under Secretary of State. After retiring as Under Secretary of State in 1954, Smith continued to serve the Eisenhower administration in various posts.