This is an exceptional choice
President Trump picked Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, a widely respected military strategist, as his new national security adviser on Monday, calling him “a man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.”
Mr. Trump made the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Palm Beach, Fla., where he has been interviewing candidates to replace Michael T. Flynn, who was forced out after withholding information from Vice President Mike Pence about a call with Russia’s ambassador.
The choice continued Mr. Trump’s reliance on high-ranking military officers to advise him on national security. Mr. Flynn was a retired three-star general and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is a retired four-star general. His first choice to replace Mr. Flynn, who turned the job down, and two other finalists were current or former senior officers as well.
General McMaster is seen as one of the Army’s leading intellectuals, first making a name for himself with a searing critique of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their performance during the Vietnam War and later criticizing the way President George W. Bush’s administration went to war in Iraq.
As a commander, he was credited with demonstrating how a different counterterrorism strategy could defeat insurgents in Iraq, providing the basis for the change in approach that Gen. David H. Petraeus adopted to shift momentum in a war that the United States was on the verge of losing.
McMaster gained his prominence in the Army the hard way, as a warrior. He commanded E Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at the battle of 73 Easting during the first Gulf War. In a sharp action, McMaster’s dozen or so tanks and cavalry fighting vehicles destroyed 50 Iraqi tanks, 25 infantry fighting vehicles and about 40 wheeled vehicles.
He commanded 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq and set the standard for how to conduct a counter insurgency at Tal Afar.
McMaster is most famous for not being as yes-man. He was passed over on his first look for brigadier general because of a tendency to speak his mind. He was picked up the next year after there were complaints that many talented officers were being left behind because of their criticism of how we were fighting the war in Iraq. His book, Dereliction of Duty, excoriates the Joint Chiefs of Staff for not standing up to political pressure and allowing LBJ to expand the Vietnam War.
In addition to being a warrior, he has an academic pedigree that should silence all but the most inveterate of the soldiers-are-dumb crowd. (Good profile of McMaster.)
The downside to this is solely on Trump. McMaster has a reputation and he has unbendable integrity. If he walks you will know the wheels are about to come off at the White House.