Frank C. Carlucci, National Security Adviser and Defense Secretary to Ronald Reagan, Dies at 87

Frank C. Carlucci, center, at a White House ceremony in 1987 in which President Ronald Reagan announced that Mr. Carlucci would succeed Caspar W. Weinberger, left, as defense secretary. Mr. Carlucci had been Reagan’s national security adviser.
Diana Walker/Time Life Pictures, via Getty Images

Frank C. Carlucci, a troubleshooting Republican who worked for four presidents in a wide-ranging government career that reached its zenith when he served as national security adviser and secretary of defense in President Ronald Reagan’s second term, died on Sunday at his home in McLean, Va. He was 87.

His wife, Marcia Myers Carlucci, said the cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease.

In posts that carried him into international controversies, occasional dangers and Washington’s highest echelons, Mr. Carlucci was a daredevil diplomat, an expert budget-whacker and, to presidents and cabinet secretaries, the indispensable No. 2 man who ran things: the day-to-day affairs of America’s anti-poverty programs; its health, education and welfare systems; its intelligence services; and its military operations.

After years in the administrations of Presidents Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter, Mr. Carlucci was named national security adviser by President Reagan in 1986, succeeding Rear Adm. John M. Poindexter, who had resigned as the Iran-contra affair, and his role in fostering it, came to light.

The appointment aimed at restoring confidence in an administration shaken by the scandal. Mr. Carlucci, the fixer, soon cleaned house at the National Security Council, abolishing Lt. Col. Oliver North’s political-military affairs section, which had hatched the covert plot to sell arms to Iran to finance right-wing guerrillas, known as the contras, fighting Nicaragua’s leftist government.

A year later, President Reagan named Mr. Carlucci defense secretary. He succeeded Caspar W. Weinberger, who had resigned for personal reasons but who was also under pressure in the Iran-contra affair.

Mr. Carlucci was cool, experienced and knowledgeable — once more a good fit. He had been deputy defense secretary under Mr. Weinberger in Reagan’s first term, and had ably managed the big Pentagon bureaucracy and overseen budgets, procurement, weapons planning and deployment of the nation’s global military forces.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Robert D. McFadden