The slew of criticisms which have been leveled against Donald Trump and his decision-making capabilities must now be tempered by his choice in National Security Advisor.
Bringing Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster on board in an administration already being characterized for insular thinking through an ‘inner circle’ shows that Trump has some appreciation for a man who has a track record of speaking truth to power.
McMaster is a legend in the U.S. Army. As a troop commander in the First Gulf War, he earned a Silver Star for actions at the Battle of 73 Easting, where his troop of nine M1 Abrams tanks and handful of Bradleys engaged and destroyed over 80 Iraqi tanks and vehicles without any friendly losses. The battle has been widely studied in the Army, and was featured in Tom Clancy’s book Armored Cav.
But his battlefield accomplishments have since been overshadowed with a career marked by intellectual vigor and keen insight usually reserved for scholars. After teaching military history at West Point, McMaster published his PhD dissertation as a book, titled Dereliction of Duty, where he meticulously made the case that the Joint Chiefs of Staff failed miserably by quietly condoning the disastrous policies of the Johnson administration in Vietnam.
His book was widely praised for the depth and breadth of his assessments, and for unflinchingly calling out the most senior military leaders for their failures.
Once in command of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in 2004, he spearheaded the style of counterinsurgency in Tal Afar, Iraq, which would eventually be adopted by General David Petraeus and widely regarded as the key to turning the war in America’s favor.