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Lt Gen HR McMaster: 6 things we know about the new US National Security Adviser

US President Donald Trump has named Lt Gen HR McMaster as his new National Security Adviser, with the decorated combat veteran replacing Michael Flynn, who was fired following a controversy over his contacts with the Russian envoy.

world Updated: Feb 21, 2017 11:15 IST
HT Correspondent
US Army Lieutenant General H. McMaster looks on as US President Donald Trump announces him as his national security adviser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
US Army Lieutenant General H. McMaster looks on as US President Donald Trump announces him as his national security adviser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.(AFP Photo)

US President Donald Trump has named Lt Gen HR McMaster as his new National Security Adviser, with the decorated combat veteran replacing Michael Flynn, who was fired following a controversy over his contacts with the Russian envoy.

McMaster, 54, currently heads the Army Capabilities Integration Center, an internal think tank that anticipates future threats, and came to notice for his innovative counter-insurgency tactics in Iraq.

Here are six things we know about him:

1) McMaster is the first serving US military officer to become the NSA since Gen Colin Powell held the post towards the end of the Ronald Reagan administration. He is the deputy commanding general responsible for looking at future threats and scenarios at the US Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. He has a doctoral degree from the University of North Carolina and has written extensively on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

2) He is seen as a protégé of defence secretary James Mattis and McMaster’s doctoral thesis – which focussed on the military leadership’s failure to inform civilian policy-makers that the Vietnam War strategy was not working – became the book Dereliction Of Duty: Johnson, McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies That Led to Vietnam, which is considered required reading for military and national security officials.

3) The graduate from West Point shot to fame during the first Gulf War with Iraq in 1991, when his numerically smaller force defeated a larger formation of the Iraqi Republican Guards at the Battle of 73 Easting. McMaster and his team of 10 tanks destroyed more than 80 Iraqi tanks and vehicles and he was awarded the Silver Star.

4) While deployed in Iraq in 2005, McMaster helped stabilise the restive city of Tal Afar through innovative counter-insurgency tactics. He positioned his troops in outposts to protect the civilians and worked with local leaders to tackle sectarian rivalries. His technique – which became known as “clear, hold and build” – would later be adopted more widely by the US Army.

5) McMAster also served in Afghanistan in 2010 under Gen David Petraeus, leading the Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force Shafafiyat (Transparency) that was responsible for anti-corruption.

6) McMaster was included in Time magazine’s 2014 list of the 100 most influential people. In the accompanying profile, Lt Gen (retired) David Barno described him as “the rarest of soldiers – one who repeatedly bucked the system and survived to join its senior ranks”. Barno added, “I watched senior Army generals argue over ways to end his career. But he dodged those bullets.”