Harbord was born in Bloomington, Illinois, and raised in Bushong, Kansas and Manhattan, Kansas. He graduated from Kansas State Agricultural College in 1886, and thereafter worked as an instructor at the college for two years. In 1889, he enlisted in the Army, and in 1891 he received a commission.
When the United States entered World War I in 1917, Harbord went to France as General Pershing's chief of staff, which won him a promotion to Brigadier General. Throughout the war he continued to work closely with General Pershing. In June 1918, he was given command of the Fourth Marine Brigade, which was serving as part of the Army Second Infantry Division, and then on July 15, briefly given command of the Division itself. He commanded the Marines during the Battle of Château-Thierry and the Battle of Belleau Wood. In August 1918, Harbord was recalled from the front and put in charge of troop and supply movement. Following the war, he was promoted to Major General and awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
In August 1919, President Woodrow Wilson sent a fact-finding mission to the Middle East, headed by General Harbord, to investigate the feasibility of the Balfour Declaration, which supported the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine, taken from the Ottoman Empire during the war. Harbord was also to report on Turkish-Armenian relations in the wake of the Armenian Genocide. Harbord's report stated that "the temptation to reprisals for past wrongs" would make it extremely difficult to maintain peace in the region.
Harbord remained as Chairman of the Board for RCA until 1947, finally retiring shortly before his death. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Chief of Staff: The Principal Officers behind History's Great Commanders; v.1: Napoleonic Wars to World War I.(Brief article)(Book review)
Aug 01, 2008; 9781591149903 Chief of staff; the principal officers behind history's great commanders; v.1: Napoleonic Wars to World War I....