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Trump struggles to fill national security role as Robert Harward refuses offer

© Khalil Mazraawi / AFP | Robert Harward at a joint military exercise at the King Abdullah Special Operations Training Centre in Amman on May 27, 2012.

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2017-02-17

US President Donald Trump’s choice for national security adviser, retired Vice Admiral Robert Harward, declined the post on Thursday, adding to what critics see as an already chaotic first month in the White House.

Harward was the second person the new president picked for the job. The administration’s first national security adviser, retired general Michael Flynn, resigned amid allegations that he held phone conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US, Sergey Kislyak, before Trump even became president.

Publicly, Harward said he was declining the job for personal and financial reasons.

"This job requires 24 hours a day, seven days a week focus and commitment to do it right. I currently could not make that commitment," Harward said as part of a statement he read out on CNN.

Harward added that he wanted, "to address financial and family issues that would have been challenging in this position."

However, a friend of Harward told CNN that he did not want the job because of the chaos surrounding the new White House administration.

Several US media outlets, including CNN and Politico, reported that Harward was also concerned that the position would not have enough independence from the White House, especially since Trump told Flynn’s deputy national security adviser, K.T. McFarland, that she could stay on after Flynn’s departure.

Some experts speculate that Trump’s decision to name his campaign strategist, alt-right news mogul Steve Bannon, to a permanent position on the National Security Council – of which the national security adviser is a key member – also may have affected Harward’s refusal. Critics say that Bannon’s appointment to the Council gives unprecedented foreign-policy power to a political strategist.

The national security adviser role acts as the president’s top confidant on foreign policy and security issues.

A career SEAL

Harward, 60, spent nearly four decades in the US Navy. He led Navy SEAL teams in Afghanistan and Iraq and worked closely with General James Mattis, the current defence secretary. Of note, Harward did serve on former president George W. Bush’s National Security Council. From 2011 to 2013 he was deputy commander of US Central Command, in charge of US military operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

In 2013, he retired and became chief executive officer of defence and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin in the United Arab Emirates, responsible for all aspects of the company’s business interests in the country according to Bloomberg News.

More controversial choices ahead?

Trump announced on Friday that he was considering four candidates for national security adviser, but only named two of them.

One was acting national security adviser Keith Kellogg, who took over the job after Flynn’s embarrassing departure. Kellogg is a retired Army lieutenant general who worked on reconstruction projects in Iraq, according to a 2003 Los Angeles Times article. Kellogg has been part of Trump’s team since his presidential campaign.

"General Keith Kellogg, who I have known for a long time, is very much in play for NSA", Trump tweeted on Friday.

Trump’s other stated choice is retired four-star general David Petraeus, who held key command posts in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and served as CIA director under former president Barack Obama.

However, Petraeus may prove a controversial choice. He resigned as CIA director in 2012 and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor charge of mishandling classified information.

During his 2015 trial, Petraeus admitted that he gave his biographer, Paula Broadwell -- with whom he also had an affair -- notebooks containing classified information about US war strategy and intelligence. Petraeus was given two years probation and fined $100,000.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP, REUTERS)
 

Date created : 2017-02-17

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