Francis Stevens Greenlief, 78, a retired Army major general who shepherded changes in the recruitment tactics of the Army-Air Force National Guard and who fought to improve benefit packages as Guard membership diminished at the end of the Vietnam War, died of cancer Dec. 18 at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Gen. Greenlief's first military assignment at the Pentagon came in 1960 as assistant director of the Army National Guard. He later became director of the Army National Guard and served as chief of the National Guard Bureau for three years until his retirement in 1974.

Although his main role was to serve as a link between the Army and Air Force Departments and the 380,000 Army Guard forces and 140,000 Air Force Guardsmen, he took on other matters in an era of social unrest and rioting.

In the late 1960s, Gen. Greenlief met with governors, civil rights leaders and other officials to promote desegregation of Guard units. He stepped up minority recruitment campaigns, emphasizing the opportunity for Guardsmen to parlay military training into skills in the civilian job market.

Recruitment was also a concern in the early 1970s as the draft was phased out and the Vietnam War began to wind down. As Army Guard strength dipped, Gen. Greenlief worked with Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery (D-Miss.) to pass legislation for reenlistment bonuses and other benefits as part of incentive package.

After his retirement in 1974, Gen. Greenlief joined the National Guard Association and served as its executive vice president for about 12 years until the mid-1980s.

Gen. Greenlief was a resident of Oakton. He was a native of Nebraska, where he attended the University of Nebraska and served in the Army National Guard. He was a lineman on the university's football team but missed the team's 1941 trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena when his Guard unit was placed on active duty.

Instead, he was shipped to Europe with the 134th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Division and fought in the Battle of Normandy, the Battle of the Bulge and the liberation of St. Lo. His military honors included a Silver Star, a Purple Heart and Combat Infantryman's Badge.

He returned to Nebraska after the war and briefly worked in private business before taking a civilian position with the Nebraska Army National Guard.

His first wife, Mavis M. Greenlief, died in 1988.

Survivors include his wife, Phyllis Greenlief of Oakton; six children from his first marriage, Barbara Ellen Saunders of Williamsburg, Carol Ann De Deo of Vienna, Robert Stevens Greenlief of Oakton, Michelle Elaine Schultze of Gaithersburg, Constance Mary Greenlief of Vienna and Kevin Charles Greenlief of Centreville; and 16 grandchildren.