Apparently Donald Trump has decided upon retired Admiral Robert Harward to replace Mike Flynn as National Security adviser.
NSA job offered to Vice Admiral Robert Harward. Negotiations w/ WH continue on NSC staff, many loyal to Flynn. Early "Art of the deal" test
— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) February 15, 2017
(Forgive me for not getting the Early “Art of the deal” test reference because I don’t read crap like that.)
On paper, Harward looks stellar. This is his official bio:
Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Vice Adm. Robert Harward grew up in a Navy family and graduated from the Tehran American High School in Iran. After enlisting in the Navy, he was awarded a fleet appointment to the United States Naval Academy where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1979. Harward attended the College of Naval Command and Staff, the Naval Staff College and the Armed Forces Staff College. He holds a master’s degree in international relations and strategic security affairs, served as a federal executive fellow at RAND and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies, Foreign Policy Program Seminar XXI.
Harward qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the destroyer USS Scott (DDG 995) and then transferred to the Naval Special Warfare community. He was the “Honor Man” of Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD)/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) class 128 and has served in both East and West coast SEAL teams.
Tours in the Naval Special Warfare community include: commander, SEAL Team 3; Assault Team leader and operations officer at Naval Special Warfare Development Group; SEAL plans officer for Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet; executive officer, Naval Special Warfare Unit 1; aide-de-camp to Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) deputy commander in Bosnia; deputy commander Special Operations Command, Pacific; commander, Naval Special Warfare Group 1; and, deputy commanding general, Joint Special Operations Command.
Assignments outside of his community include a tour in the executive office of the president at the White House where he served on the National Security Council as the director of Strategy and Policy for the office of Combating Terrorism. His first flag assignment was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), as a member of the Senior Interagency Strategy Team. Additionally, he served as deputy commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and most recently he served as commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF) 435 from 2009 to 2011 in Afghanistan. Harward has commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq over six years since Sept. 11, 2001.
Harward served as deputy commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), located in Tampa, Florida.
He’s literally done it all. He started out as an enlisted man. He graduated from the Naval Academy. He’s a qualified surface warfare officer. He has major academic credentials. He’s a SEAL. He’s served in high profile staff positions. (Guess who commanded CENTCOM when he was deputy commander?) He’s served on the NSC and in the interagency environment. In short, this is sort of guy that Trump should have looked at in the first place. Some are criticizing the choice because he went to high school in Tehran, Iran back when they were still our major regional ally. I think this is silly and the fact that he and Mattis are very close and Mattis is an out-and-proud Iran-deal skeptic is a good sign. The fact that he knows how the NSC and interagecy process works will be a huge plus for an White House that seems to be unable to gain traction.
But there is more. Or maybe not. Thomas Ricks has an article in Foreign Policy headlined Robert Harward plans a housecleaning of Trump’s National Security Council staff.
First a word about Ricks. Ricks is a liar. Period. Full stop. Ricks is also an idiot. This is not mere invective. I know people who were interviewed for his book Fiasco on the Gulf War. I know people who were quoted as saying things they didn’t say and wouldn’t say. Some of them suffered career hits because of him. Ricks also claimed at one point during 2004 that the Iraqis were going to run us out of Iraq the same way that T. E. Lawrence’s Arab Revolt ran the Turks out of the Middle East… by cutting our supply lines. Take this for what it is worth.
President Donald Trump offered the job of national security advisor to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward on Monday night, and was a bit surprised when Harward responded by saying he needed a couple of days to think it over.
If, as expected, Harward accepts the job today, he is likely to bring in his own team, from deputy on down, with a focus on national security types with some experience under their belts.
This may or may not be true. I’d be sort of surprised if someone actually told the president that they needed a couple of days to think about a job offer (not unreasonable considering it means he’s basically giving up his outside life for the duration) that they would tell people about it in a way that could be portrayed the way Ricks is spinning this.
I also don’t know if he’s going to bring in his people or not, and neither does Ricks. Ricks is quite openly hoping for former Bush national security council types to reappear which is sort of bizarre considering Ricks thought they were all criminals back when Bush was in office. Given the prohibition on hiring #NeverTrump people, it is highly unlikely that very many Bush foreign policy types are going to get the nod to work in the White House.
Harward is smart enough to know that the last thing the NSC needs is more uncertainty and chaos. I’d expect that there will be some changes but that at least in the short to mid-term he’s going decide that it is easier to work with the people already there rather than throwing out the people Flynn brought in and replacing them with others. In fact, as Flynn and Harward served together, the people Flynn has brought in will probably be known to him.
Regardless of how the personnel game plays out, Harward looks like a solid choice. He knows Mattis and Kelly very well and that personal relationship will go a long way to making the NSC work.