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First Name: Anthony

Last Name: Zinni

Birthplace: Conshohocken, PA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Charles

Date of Birth: 17 September 1943

Rank: General

Years Served: 1965-2000
Anthony Charles Zinni
'The Godfather'

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)
•  Gulf War (1990 - 1991)


Anthony Charles "The Godfather" Zinni
General, U.S. Marine Corps

Anthony Charles Zinni was born on 17 September 1943 in Conshohocken, PA. In 1965, he graduated from Villanova University with a Bachelor's degree in Economics. Since he was a member of the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps at Villanova, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After completion of the Basic School, he was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, where he served as a Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer, and Company Commander in the 1st Battalion, 6th Marines. He also served as a Company Commander in the 1st Infantry Training Regiment during this tour.

In 1967, Zinni was assigned as an Infantry Battalion Advisor to the Vietnamese Marine Corps. Following the Vietnam War, he was ordered to the Basic School where he served as a Tactics Instructor, Platoon Commander, and Company Executive Officer. In 1970, he returned to Vietnam as a Company Commander in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines where he was wounded, evacuated, and subsequently assigned to the 3rd Force Service Support Group on Okinawa. There he served as a Company Commander and Guard Officer. In 1971, Zinni returned to the 2nd Marine Division, where he served as a Company Commander in the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines; Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General; and Officer in Charge of the Infantry Training Center. In 1974, he was assigned to Headquarters Marine Corps, where he was assigned as the Retention and Release Officer and Plans Officer in the Officer Assignment Branch of the Manpower Department.

Zinni again served in the 2nd Marine Division in 1978, as the Operations Officer of the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines; Executive Officer of the 1st Battalion, 8th Marines; Executive Officer of the 8th Marine Regiment and Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines. In 1981, he was assigned as an Operations and Tactics Instructor at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College at Quantico, VA. He was next assigned to the Operations Division at Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps where he served as the Head of the Special Operations and Terrorism Counteraction Section and as the Head, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Concepts and Capabilities Branch. In 1984, he earned his Master's degree from Central Michigan University. In 1986, he was selected as a Fellow on the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group. From 1987-89, Zinni served on Okinawa as the Regimental Commander of the 9th Marine Regiment and the Commanding Officer of the 35th Marine Expeditionary Unit, which was twice deployed to the Philippines to conduct emergency security operations and disaster relief operations. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned as the Chief of Staff of the Marine Air-Ground Training and Education Center at Marine Corps Base Quantico.

His initial assignment as a general officer was as the Deputy Director of Operations at the U.S. European Command. In 1991, he served as the Chief of Staff and Deputy Commanding General of Combined Task Force Operation Provide Comfort during the Kurdish relief effort in Turkey and Iraq. He also served as the Military Coordinator for Operation Provide Hope, the relief effort for the former Soviet Union. In 1992-93, he served as the Director for Operations for the Unified Task Force in Somalia for Operation Restore Hope. Also in 1993, he served as the Assistant to the U.S. Special Envoy to Somalia during Operation Continued Hope. Zinni was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, U.S. Marine Corps Combat Development Command, Quantico, from 1992-94.

From 1994-96, he served as the Commanding General, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. During early 1995, Zinni served as Commander of the Combined Task Force for Operation United Shield, protecting the withdrawal of U.N. forces from Somalia.

From September 1996 until August 1997, Zinni served as the Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Central Command. His final tour was from August 1997 to September 2000 as Commander-in- Chief, U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, FL. He organized Operation Desert Fox, a series of airstrikes against Iraq during December 1998, with the stated purpose of degrading Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program.

General Zinni retired from the Marine Corps in the autumn of 2000.


Zinni's military education includes the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School; Amphibious Warfare School; Marine Corps Command and Staff College; and the National War College. In addition to his Bachelor's degree in Economics, Zinni has two Master of Arts degrees; one in International Relations and another in Management and Supervision.

Testimony Before Congress

On 15 March 2000, Zinni testified before Congress:

Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf region. This is primarily due to its large conventional military force, pursuit of WMD, oppressive treatment of Iraqi citizens, refusal to comply with United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCR), persistent threats to enforcement of the no-fly zones (NFZ), and continued efforts to violate UN Security Council sanctions through oil smuggling.

While Iraq's WMD capabilities were degraded under UN supervision and set back by Coalition strikes, some capabilities remain and others could quickly be regenerated. Despite claims that WMD efforts have ceased, Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions, and is concealing extended-range SCUD missiles, possibly equipped with CBW payloads. Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains the scientific, technical, and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months. A special concern is the absence of a UN inspection and monitoring presence, which until December 1998 had been paramount to preventing large-scale resumption of prohibited weapons programs. A new disarmament regime must be reintroduced into Iraq as soon as possible and allowed to carry out the mandates dictated by the post-Gulf War UN resolutions.

Zinni also warned about terrorism:

Extremists like Osama bin Laden and his World Islamic Front network benefit from the global nature of communications that permits recruitment, fund raising, and direct connections to sub-elements worldwide . . . Terrorists are seeking more lethal weaponry to include: chemical, biological, radiological, and even nuclear components with which to perpetrate more sensational attacks . . . Three [Iraq, Iran, & Sudan ] of the seven recognized state-sponsors of terrorism are within this potentially volatile area, and the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has been sanctioned by the UN Security Council for its harboring of Osama bin Laden. Nearly one half of the 28 recognized terrorist organizations have operational sites within the region. Afghanistan has emerged as a catalyst for regional instability offering sanctuary, support, and training facilities to a growing number of extremist elements.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters
Bronze Star Medal w/ Valor Device and 1 Award Star
Purple Heart
Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 Award Star
Navy & Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ Valor Device and 1 Award Star
Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/ 1 Award Star
Combat Action Ribbon
Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 4 Oak Leaf Clusters
Navy Unit Commendation w/ 1 Service Star
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 3 Service Stars
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 Service Star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 Service Star
Vietnam Service Medal w/ 3 Service Stars
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 2 Service Stars
Humanitarian Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 6 Service Stars
Navy & Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon w/ 1 Service Star
Vietnam Armed Forces Honor Medal First Class
National Order of Merit, Commander
Order of Merit of the Republic, Commander
Order of May in Military Merit
Order of the Sinai Star
The Khalifiyyeh Order of Bahrain, 1st Class
Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation
Vietnam Civil Actions Unit Citation
United Nations Medal
Vietnam Campaign Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)

Zinni also holds military medals and awards from France, Italy, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Vietnam, and Kuwait.

Civilian Awards

• Papal Gold Cross of Honor

• nion League's Abraham Lincoln Award

• Italic Studies Institute's Global Peace Award

• Distinguished Sea Service Award from the Naval Order of the United States

• Eisenhower Distinguished Service Award from the Veterans of Foreign Wars

• The Chapman Award from the Marine Corps University Foundation

• Penn Club Award

• St. Thomas of Villanova Alumni Medal

• George P. Shultz Award for Public Service from the U.S. Department of State

• UNICO National's Grand Patriot Award


His son, Anthony Zinni, currently serves as a Major in the Marine Corps.

In Retirement

Zinni holds a director position on several boards of major U.S. corporations. He was the Executive Vice President for Dyncorp International from 18 July 2007 to the end of 2008. He served on the Board of Directors of Dyncorp International prior to that position.

He has held academic positions that include the Stanley Chair in Ethics at the Virginia Military Institute; the Nimitz Chair at the University of California, Berkeley; the Hofheimer Chair at the Joint Forces Staff College; and the Harriman Professorship of Government and membership on the board of the Reves Center for International Studies at the College of William and Mary. He has worked with the University of California's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the Henry Dunant Centre for humanitarian dialogue in Geneva. He is also a Distinguished Advisor at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He serves on the Board of Trustees of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which is a museum dedicated to the U.S. Constitution.[4]

In April 2004, Zinni gave a lecture entitled "From the Battlefield to the Negotiating Table: Preventing Deadly Conflict" at the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series.

In 2004, Zinni was singled out by The New York Times investigative reporter Diana Henriques for serving on First Command's board of advisors. Henriques alleged that First Command used its military connections "to lend credibility to their sales efforts." First Command defended its affiliation before the U.S. House of Representatives stating, "It would be unfortunate if anyone inferred that these honorable individuals would take any action or support any organization that did not act in the best interests of service members." The SEC and NASD concluded that First Command willfully violated the Securities Act of 1933 Section 17(a)(2) dealing with inter-state fraud. First Command settled without admitting guilt.

In 2006, Zinni argued that more troops were needed in Iraq in the context of preventing the then-budding civil war.

In 2007, he worked on a report entitled "National Security and the Threat of Climate Change" with 11 other retired military commanders. The report stated that global warming would act as a threat multiplier to global conflict.

General Zinni is also a "Distinguished Military Fellow" for the Center for Defense Information, a part of the World Security Institute.

In 2009, Zinni reported that he had been offered and accepted the post of U.S. Ambassador to Iraq for the Barack Obama administration, but that the appointment had been subsequently withdrawn without explanation. The administration's final choice for the ambassadorship was Christopher R. Hill.

Announcement on 26 June 2009: General Anthony (Tony) Zinni (USMC ret.), currently a member of the BAE Systems, Inc. Board, has been appointed Chairman of the BAE Systems, Inc. Board and, pending appointment of a permanent successor to Walt Havenstein, Acting President and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc. Tony will also join the BAE Systems Executive Committee in his capacity as Acting President and CEO of BAE Systems, Inc.

General Zinni also serves on the board of Kaseman which has teamed up with Blackwater to pursue security work for the State Department (Washington Post, 1 October 2010)

Political Involvement

An effort to get him to run for the U.S. Senate has stalled indefinitely; Zinni has said he will never run for office. He says his decision to endorse President George W. Bush in 2000 was a mistake, and in 2003, indicated that he plans to avoid politics in the future. However, on 3 March 2006, Zinni joined fellow former U.S. Marines, General Joseph P. Hoar; Lt. General Greg Newbold; Lt. General Frank Petersen; and Congressman Jack Murtha in endorsing fellow former U.S. Marine and Secretary of the Navy, Jim Webb, for the U.S. Senate in Virginia. Zinni had been floated as a possible Vice Presidential running mate of Barack Obama, the 2008 Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party.

Opinions on 2003 Invasion of Iraq

In the late 1990s, Zinni said that the U.S. risked entering a "Bay of Goats" if it relied on exiles such as the Iraqi National Congress to invade Iraq, a reference to the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.

In May 2004, his memoir, Battle Ready, co-authored with Tom Clancy, was published. It features stinging criticism of the planning for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and more specifically, the post-battle planning. In a widely reported speech at a dinner in May 2004, Zinni detailed ten serious criticisms of the rationale and execution of the war, summarized below:

• The war planners "misjudged the success of containment" - the existing policy of trade sanctions and maintaining troops in the area.
• The "strategy was flawed" - the strategy being that invading, occupying, and setting up a new government in Iraq would help solve the broader conflicts in the Middle East. Zinni said "couldn't believe what I was hearing about the benefits of this strategic move."
• The Bush administration "had to create a false rationale for going in to get public support." Zinni said that "the books were cooked, in my mind. The intelligence (that supported the claims made to support the need for war) was not there."
• The war planners failed "to internationalize the effort," by gaining the support of allies or unambiguously gaining UN endorsement of an invasion.
• The "fifth mistake was that we underestimated the task." Zinni clarified this in his speech to mean the broader task of creating a free, democratic, and functional Iraq.
• The sixth mistake was "propping up and trusting the exiles." The exiles Zinni refers to are groups like the Iraqi National Congress and its controversial leader Ahmed Chalabi.
• Zinni criticized the "lack of planning" for the post-war stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq.
"The eighth problem was the insufficiency of military forces on the ground." Zinni, in his former position, had devised a battle plan for conquering and occupying Iraq in the 1990s, which featured far more troops, as did alternative plans presented to Donald Rumsfeld before the war. The extra troops were needed to "freeze the security situation because we knew the chaos that would result once we uprooted an authoritarian regime like Saddam's."
"The ninth problem has been the ad hoc organization we threw in there." Zinni criticizes what he views as the lack of staff, skills, experience, and clear structure in the Coalition Provisional Authority.
• According to Zinni, "that ad hoc organization has failed," "leading to the tenth mistake, and that's a series of bad decisions on the ground." These bad decisions include the excessive zeal in "de-Baathification," removing people only peripherally involved in the Baath Party who were Baathists purely to be permitted to conduct their profession or business, the decision to disband the Iraqi army.


Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.) and Tony Koltz (August 2009). Leading the Charge: Leadership Lessons from the Battlefield to the Boardroom. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0-230-61265-2. 

Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.) and Tony Koltz (foreword by Tom Clancy) (April 2006). The Battle for Peace: A Frontline Vision of America's Power and Purpose. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-7174-9. 

Tom Clancy, Gen. Tony Zinni (ret.) and Tony Koltz (2004). Battle Ready. Grosset & Dunlap. ISBN 0-399-15176-1. 

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
He is of Italian descent.

Honoree ID: 432   Created by: MHOH




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