H.R. McMaster

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H.R. McMaster
180px-H.R. McMaster ARCIC 2014.jpg
National Security Advisor
From: February 20, 2017 - present
Predecessor Keith Kellogg (acting)
Michael T. Flynn
Successor Incumbent (no successor)
Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Service Years 1984–2014
Rank Lieutenant General
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War
Battle of 73 Easting
Global War on Terrorism
Iraq War
War in Afghanistan

Lt.Gen. H.R. McMaster is the current National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump. McMaster is thought to share the views of many Russophobes and, according to Politico, of the establishment analysis which ignored the motives of jihadists in order to please Barack Obama. [1]


McMaster holds a Ph.D in American History from the University of North Carolina. His dissertation is a harsh criticism of President Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, and the Joint Chiefs conduct of the Vietnam war. With a clear reference to Vietnam-era news reporting, McMaster answered punctiliously how journalists' thinking fits into strategic thinking after the Battle of Tal Afar in 2005, “body counts are completely irrelevant.” [2]

His dissertation was turned into a book, Dereliction of Duty, which was recommended and widely read in the Pentagon by the next generation of combat leaders. The New Yorker summarizes it saying, "[T]he Joint Chiefs of Staff, knowing that Johnson and McNamara wanted uncritical support rather than honest advice, and eager to protect their careers, went along with official lies and a split-the-difference strategy of gradual escalation that none of them thought could work."

Iraqi insurgency 2007-2008

Main article: Troop surge

CBS News commented, "Aside from David Petraeus himself, probably the most celebrated soldier of the Iraq War has been Col. H.R. McMaster."[3] From August 2007 to August 2008 McMaster was part of an "elite team of officers advising US commander," General Petraeus.[4] Eurasia analyst Lauren Goodrich[5] described McMaster as one of the chief architects behind CENTCOM strategy in the Iraq insurgency, and for Afghanistan and Syria.[6]

Reforming counter-insurgency doctrine

From the time Baghdad fell in 2003, American leadership at the highest levels, beginning with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, were reluctant to admit an insurgency - an armed uprising against the new Baghdad regime - was taking place.

Traditional American counter-insurgency doctrine cuts deeply against the Army’s institutional instincts which focus on combat operations. The most recent field manual at the time was two decades old, focusing on hunting people and an approach called “kill-capture,” similar to the "search and destroy" methods used in Vietnam. Ultimately there are more insurgents than when they started.

Counterinsurgency warfare is twenty per cent military and eighty per cent political, McMaster argues, using the classic doctrine developed by the British in Malaysia in the 1940s-50s. The focus of operations is on the civilian population: isolating residents from insurgents, providing security, building a police force, and allowing political and economic development to take place so that the government commands the allegiance of its citizens. A counterinsurgency strategy involves both offensive and defensive operations, but there is an emphasis on using the minimum amount of force necessary. From Iraq McMaster collaborated remotely with Petraeus in Fort Leavenworth on revision of the Army's Counterinsurgency Field Manual.

McMaster and his staff in field tried to teach soldiers to distinguish between nationalist-minded Sunnis and Salafi extremists, a distinction that, in the war’s first two years, American soldiers were rarely able to make; they were simply trained to fight “bad guys.”

The strategy focused on building an Iraqi nationalist identity of Muslims against takfiri, or Muslims who shed their Islamic identity. This Muslim unity call of Arabs, Kurds, Turkomen, Sunni, and Shia, was intended to counter the Sunni-Shia divisions which spurred genocidal atrocities.[7] This globalist approach to using Iraqi nationalism to strengthen Muslim unity, however is not without critics.


McMaster's next assignment was to examine the roots of a growing insurgency in Afghanistan where he found a very different war. Lack of public support for the government of Hamid Karzai was predicated on corruption exacerbated by massive amounts of foreign aid dumped into the country. The abuse of official positions of power for personal gain, McMaster told interviewers, “is robbing Afghanistan of much-needed revenue, undermining rule of law, degrading the effectiveness of state institutions, and eroding popular confidence in the government.” The Wall Street Journal published an article saying that trying to stop corruption in Afghanistan is like trying to stop the tides. McMaster told the Journal that view is seen as “bigotry masquerading as cultural sensitivity.”[8]

But why did the Taliban collapse so quickly in 2001, he asks. “The fundamental reason was that every Afghan was convinced of the inevitability of the Taliban’s defeat.”

National Security Advisor

Upon his appointment he received a congratulatory tweet from former Obama National Security Advisor Susan Rice:

“Hope you will be able to choose your team, have direct reporting and daily access to POTUS, and can eliminate Strategic Initiatives Group.”

The Strategic Initiatives Group was headed by Steve Bannon,[9] who was ousted from the National Security Council staff within weeks, and Deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland's departure was announced days later.

See also