Major General Edwin I. Donley was born in Buchanan, Michigan on May 9, 1918. He is a 1941 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and holds a master's degree in Industrial Management from the University of Michigan.
Following an initial assignment with the Industrial Division, Office Chief of Ordnance early in World War II, he held several increasingly valuable posts, including that of Division Ordnance Officer in General George Patton's Third Army during the Ardennes, Central Europe, and Rhineland Campaigns.
Post-war advisory positions in the Caribbean, the U.S. State Department, the Office of Foreign Liquidation commission, and the Korean Military Advisory Group paved the way for successful assignments as Deputy Commanding General, Supply and Maintenance, U.S. Army Communication Zone, Europe; Commander, U.S. Army Materiel Command, Europe; Deputy Commander, Land Combat Systems, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama; and ultimately as Commander, U.S. Army Missile Command, Redstone Arsenal. As Commander, U.S. Army MICOM, he directed the development of early missile systems, including the Pershing, Sergeant, Hawk, Nike Hercules, Chaparral, Redeye, and Shillelagh. Other weapons systems under his direction included the Surface-to-Air Missile Development Air Defense System, and land combat systems such as Lance, TOW, and Dragon.
He directed Army missile development from wartime to peacetime missions and was a driving force behind the International Logistics Program. He lobbied to get responsibility for missile warheads moved from AMC to MICOM. He believed in the logic of the systems approach, supported a larger role for MICOM in the development of warhead technology, and understood the direct relationship between warhead effectiveness and the accuracy of delivery systems, viewing widely separated responsibilities as a serious handicap.