We wrote about former two-time deputy to James Mattis, retired Navy Vice Admiral (SEAL) Robert S. Harward, here on SOFREP back in early February. At the time, this author and others assumed that Harward might be tapped for a position within Secretary of Defense Mattis’ Pentagon, as an undersecretary of defense perhaps.
It seems instead that Mattis might have had a bigger job in mind for his twice-former deputy. SOFREP cannot confirm that Mattis recommended Harward for the newly-vacant position of National Security Advisor, following the resignation of former General Michael Flynn, but it does seem likely.
As we reported here previously, Harward was a favored deputy of Mattis at both U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and the now-defunct U.S. Joint Forces Command. There is no reason why Mattis would not have put Harward’s name forward as a successor to Flynn, assuming that he was asked by the Trump White House for his input into filling the position.
News articles about Harward are of course popping up everywhere now as media outlets seek to fill in the blanks with regards to the biography of a man not known for promoting himself gratuitously in the media. With that in mind, here are some of the facts, anecdotes, rumors, and apocryphal tales of the iconic former SEAL that may help fill in some of those blanks.
- Harward led one of the first contingent of Special Operations Forces (SOF) into Afghanistan in the fall of 2001, following the September 11th attacks. He commanded Task Force K-Bar, which was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for its actions.
- Harward also served as the deputy commander of a Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) in support of Operation Joint Forge in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the surrounding countries. That mission included the hunt for “persons indicted for war crimes” in the Yugoslav conflict.
- The “long scar of mysterious provenance down his cheek” — a quote from the New York Times describing the retired admiral — is allegedly from a one-sided knife fight in which Harward was involved as a young man. He purportedly did not himself have a knife, though his assailant did. Who knows if that man is still alive today?
- Harward was a much-admired assault team leader at the Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), and some SEALs even say he was an “icon” there. That is high praise within the SEAL community.
- As a teenager, Harward lived in Tehran, Iran, before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. He traveled around Iran and Afghanistan at the time, becoming intimately familiar with the region. He reportedly speaks both Farsi and Dari.
- Despite his steely appearance and outward military bearing, Harward is a funny and gregarious man who regales friends with jokes and stories, and has also been known to play elaborate and biting practical jokes.
- Despite that sense of humor and good-natured side, Harward is also described as one who does not in any way “put up with bullshit.” He is known to have a forceful personality, which would likely serve him well given the personalities residing currently in the White House.
It is not clear if the retired admiral will leave his job with Lockheed Martin to accept a position in the Trump White House, assuming that he is even offered one, which is not a given at the time of this writing. If Harward is offered the job, however, this author for one hopes that he accepts it and helps bring some order, direction, and stability to what appears up to this point to be a chaotic National Security Council.
America needs good men like this at times like these.
Featured image courtesy of ABC News