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William E. Odom, 75; Military Adviser to 2 Administrations

Lt. Gen. William E. Odom was a critic of the Iraq war and opponent of compromise with the Soviet Union.
Lt. Gen. William E. Odom was a critic of the Iraq war and opponent of compromise with the Soviet Union. (Brendan Smialowski - Bloomberg News)
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After teaching government at West Point, he returned to Columbia for a PhD in comparative politics in 1970. Gen. Odom was a military attache at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow from 1972 to 1974, where he studied Soviet life. He also spent more time on the West Point faculty in the 1970s and at Brzezinski's Research Institute on Communist Affairs at Columbia.

When Brzezinski became Carter's national security adviser in 1977, he named Gen. Odom his military assistant.

"He was both a fighter and an intellectual," Brzezinski said.

Because of his fierce anti-Soviet stance, Gen. Odom was known as "Zbig's superhawk" and his "crisis coordinator," who helped plan responses to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the capture of hostages at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979.

Gen. Odom spent four years in Army intelligence before being named director of the National Security Agency, the government's largest spy operation, in 1985. He threatened to prosecute journalists at The Post and other media outlets in 1986 for compromising national security after exposing a U.S. eavesdropping operation by submarines in Soviet harbors.

In 1988, Gen. Odom retired from the Army and NSA and began a career in academia. He was a resident of Washington but had taught at Yale University since 1989. He wrote seven books in the past 16 years, including the authoritative "The Collapse of the Soviet Military," which portrayed the Soviet military hierarchy as bloated and hopelessly corrupt.

"He was a genuine scholar who loved scholarship and wrote some important books and was a very effective teacher," said Brzezinski, who added that he and Gen. Odom often played tennis. "He was better than me," Brzezinski said.

Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Anne Odom, a former chief curator of the Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, of Washington and Lincoln, Vt.; a son, Army Lt. Col. Mark Odom, of Fort Lewis, Wash., who was wounded in action in Iraq; a brother; a sister; and a granddaughter.


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