Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

NSC loads up on retired military types

They tend to be smart, hardworking people open to innovative thinking.

3rd ABCT, 4th ID, tanks fire first rounds in Poland
3rd ABCT, 4th ID, tanks fire first rounds in Poland

 

 

I see that President Donald Trump’s pick for national security advisor, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, who already has called on retired Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg to serve as his deputy, has also signed up several other retired Army officers for National Security Council staff: Derek Harvey to overall Middle East, Joel Rayburn to handle Iraq/Iran, Michael Bell for Saudi/Yemen/Gulf Cooperation Council affairs, and Craig Deare (82nd Airborne/John Hopkins SAIS PhD) for Latin America. Matt Pottinger, who used to be a Marine intelligence officer, is already there in the China seat.

I know many of these people. (Rayburn and Harvey both appear in my book, The Gamble, about the surge phase in Iraq.) They tend to be smart, hardworking people open to innovative thinking. I don’t think they represent “militarization” (though a little diversity would be handy in reaching out to different elements in all these countries). Mainly, I wonder how they will react to someone who, unlike them, doesn’t believe in deeply studying their subjects. And what they will make of the Leninist tendencies of some of the White House civilians.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Defense

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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