Na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser role goes to serv­ing gen­eral

H.R. McMaster viewed as a cre­ative thinker


PALM BEACH, FLA. — U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has tapped Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a prom­i­nent mil­i­tary strate­gist known as a cre­ative thinker, as his new na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser, re­plac­ing the ousted Michael Flynn.

Trump an­nounced the pick Mon­day at his Palm Beach, Fla., club and said McMaster is “a man of tremen­dous tal­ent and tremen­dous ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The pres­i­dent’s choice fur­ther el­e­vated the in­flu­ence of mil­i­tary of­fi­cers in the new ad­min­is­tra­tion. Trump, who has no mil­i­tary or for­eign pol­icy ex­pe­ri­ence, has shown a strong pref­er­ence for putting gen­er­als in top roles. In this case, he tapped an ac­tive-duty of­fi­cer for a post that’s some­times used as a coun­ter­weight to the Pen­tagon. McMaster joins De­fence Sec­re­tary Jim Mattis and Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary John Kelly, both re­tired gen­er­als, in Trump’s in­ner cir­cle of na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers.

McMaster will take on the chal­lenge of lead­ing a Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil that has not ad­justed smoothly to Trump’s lead­er­ship. The pres­i­dent sug­gested he does not trust holdovers from the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion and com­plained about leaks to re­porters. His de­ci­sion to put his top po­lit­i­cal ad­viser on the se­nior com­mit­tee of the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil drew sharp crit­i­cism. On Fri­day, the head of the coun­cil’s Western Hemi­sphere di­vi­sion was fired af­ter he crit­i­cized Trump’s poli­cies and ad­vis­ers.

Trump said Mon­day that re­tired Army Lt. Gen. Keith Kel­logg, who had been his act­ing ad­viser, will now serve as the Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil chief of staff. He also said he would be ask­ing John Bolton, a for­mer U.S. am­bas­sador to the United Na­tions, to work with them in a “some­what dif­fer­ent ca­pac­ity.”

McMaster is viewed as sol­dier­scholar and cre­ative thinker. He has a doc­toral de­gree in his­tory from the Univer­sity of North Carolina and has been heav­ily in­volved in the Army’s ef­forts to shape its fu­ture force and its way of pre­par­ing for war. He is the direc­tor of the Army Ca­pa­bil­i­ties In­te­gra­tion Cen­ter, a sort of mil­i­tary think-tank, at Fort Eustis, Va.

Out­side of the Army, he may be best known for his 1997 book, “Dere­lic­tion of Duty,” a sear­ing in­dict­ment of the U.S. gov­ern­ment’s mis­han­dling of the Viet­nam War and an anal­y­sis of what he called the “lies that led to Viet­nam.” The book earned him a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing will­ing to speak truth to power.

Sen. John McCain, an in­creas­ingly vo­cal Trump critic, called McMaster an “out­stand­ing” choice.

“He is a man of gen­uine in­tel­lect, char­ac­ter, and abil­ity. He knows how to suc­ceed,” he said.


U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, right, shakes hands Mon­day with Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago es­tate in Palm Beach, Fla.

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