Washington, Feb 21
US President Donald Trump has named Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his national security adviser, replacing Gen. Michael Flynn, who was last week asked to resign from the position.
McMaster is a highly regarded military officer and soldier who is known for his roles in the Gulf War, the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan. He also served as a special assistant to Gen. David Petraeus when he was commander of the US-led coalition forces in Iraq during the 2007 troop surge, CNN reported on Tuesday.
Trump called McMaster “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience” as he introduced his selection on Monday to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, Florida, where he has spent the holiday weekend interviewing candidates for the post.
“I watched and read a lot over the last two days,” Trump said. “He is highly respected by everyone in the military and we’re very honoured to have him,” he added.
McMaster is the first active-duty military officer in the post since Gen. Colin Powell.
McMaster — who called the appointment a “privilege” — takes over the position left by Flynn, who was asked to resign by Trump amid revelations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence on the nature of his contacts with the Russian Ambassador to the US.
Trump’s first choice for the job, Robert Harward, also turned down the position last week after a dispute over staffing decisions on the National Security Council, Time magazine reported.
Retired Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, who served as interim National Security Adviser for the week, will return to his post as Chief of Staff and Executive Secretary of the NSC, the White House said.
McMaster has a Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was tapped for National Security Adviser over several other finalists for the position, including John Bolton, the hawkish Ambassador to the UN under George W. Bush who also served in senior positions in the administrations of George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
McMaster, one of the military’s top strategic minds, most recently served as Director of the Army Capabilities Integration Centre in Virginia, which is tasked with preparing for future threats.
As a younger officer, McMaster attained cult-like status within the military after the publication of his 1997 book “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam”. The book examined the failure of military leaders to challenge civilian policymakers’ about the direction of the war.
Trump’s pick earned quick praise from a contingent of Republican foreign policy leaders in Congress, Time reported.
California Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, called McMaster “a fine addition” to Trump’s national security team.
Sen. John McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman who has been among Trump’s chief Republican critics on Capitol Hill, called McMaster “an outstanding choice”.