President Trump appointed Army Lieutenant General Herbert McMaster to become his new National Security Advisor on Monday, replacing the departed Michael Flynn.
Gen. McMaster succeeds Michael Flynn, who was dismissed over reports which surfaced in late January indicating he had held conversations with Russian ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, regarding sanctions imposed on Russia.
“He is highly respected by everybody in the military and we’re very honored to have him. He’s a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience,” Trump said on Monday.
The brief search to replace Flynn with McMaster comes after retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward reportedly declined Mr. Trump’s offer apparently related to control over staffing.
Mr. Trump is thought to have given consideration to retired General David Petraeus, former CIA director, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, and former Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno.
A curious choice to lead the NSA, McMaster is a known contrarian whose military career has been hindered by clashes with superiors. A critic of Russia, his appointment could put him at odds with an administration which aspires for improved relations with the Kremlin.
During an address in front of members of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in 2016, McMaster described Russia’s March 2014 annexation of Crimea and military support for Russian separatists in Ukraine as intending to fulfill “offensive objectives.”
A 1984 West Point graduate, McMaster earned an MA and a PhD in American history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where his thesis examined the military’s role in Vietnam policy. He is also a graduate of the United States Army Command and General Staff College.
McMaster later expanded his thesis into a full account of the war, titled: “Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam.” His work is considered an indictment of top Pentagon brass for failing to take a stand against the Johnson White House.
McMaster is a combat veteran of the first Gulf War, who won the Silver Star while serving with an armored unit in Iraq in 1991. His final assignment was with the Army’s Capabilities Integration Center.
McMaster will remain on active duty while serving as National Security Advisor.
[Reuters] [Roll Call] [Photo courtesy AFP via La Libre.be]