H. R. McMaster

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H. R. McMaster
H.R. McMaster ARCIC 2014.jpg
26th National Security Advisor
Assumed office
February 20, 2017
President Donald Trump
Deputy K. T. McFarland
Preceded by Michael T. Flynn
Personal details
Born Herbert Raymond McMaster
July 24, 1962 (age 54)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Spouse(s) Kathleen Trotter (1985–present)
Awards Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star (2)
Purple Heart Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2)
Army Meritorious Service Medal (5)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal (4)
Army Achievement Medal (4)
Military service
Nickname(s) The Iconoclast General
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1984–present
Rank Army-USA-OF-08.svg Lieutenant general
Commands Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment
1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
Concept Development and Experimentation Directorate, Army Capabilities Integration Center
Joint Anti-Corruption Task Force (Shafafiyat), International Security Assistance Force
Maneuver Center of Excellence
Army Capabilities Integration Center
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War
 • Battle of 73 Easting
War on Terror
 • Iraq War
 • War in Afghanistan

Herbert Raymond "H. R." McMaster (born July 24, 1962) is a Lieutenant General in the United States Army, author, and the 26th and current United States National Security Advisor. His current assignment is Director, Army Capabilities Integration Center and Deputy Commanding General, Futures, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. His previous assignment was commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Ft. Benning, Georgia. McMaster previously served as Director of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force-Shafafiyat (CJIATF-Shafafiyat) (Transparency) at ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is known for his roles in the Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and his reputation for questioning U.S. policy and military leaders regarding the Vietnam War. On February 20, 2017, President Donald Trump chose McMaster as his new National Security Advisor.

Early life

McMaster was born in Philadelphia in 1962.[1] He went to high school at Valley Forge Military Academy, graduating in 1980. He earned a commission as a second lieutenant upon graduating from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1984. McMaster earned Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees in American history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC). His thesis was critical of American strategy in the Vietnam War, which was further detailed in his 1997 book Dereliction of Duty.[2]

Dereliction of Duty (book)

Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, The Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam is a book written by McMaster that explores the military's role in the policies of the Vietnam War. The book was written as part of his Ph.D. dissertation at UNC. It harshly criticized high-ranking officers of that era, arguing that they inadequately challenged Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson on their Vietnam strategy. The book was widely read in Pentagon circles and included in military reading lists.

The book examines McNamara and Johnson's staff, alongside the military and particularly the Joint Chiefs of Staff, failure to provide a successful plan of action either to pacify a Viet Cong insurgency or to decisively defeat the North Vietnamese Army. McMaster also details why military actions intended to indicate "resolve" or to "communicate" ultimately failed when trying to accomplish sparsely detailed, confusing, and conflicting military objectives.


Company grade officer

His first assignment after commissioning was to the 2nd Armored Division at Fort Hood, where he served in a variety of platoon and company level leadership assignments with 1st Battalion 66th Armor Regiment. In 1989, McMaster was assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Warner Barracks in Bamberg, Germany, where he served until 1992, including deployment to Operation Desert Storm.

During the Gulf War in 1991 he was a captain commanding Eagle Troop of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment at the Battle of 73 Easting.[3] During that battle, though significantly outnumbered and encountering the enemy by surprise as McMaster's lead tank crested a dip in the terrain, the nine tanks of Eagle Troop destroyed over eighty Iraqi Republican Guard tanks and other vehicles without loss, due to the Abrams tank being state-of-the-art armored technology while the Iraqi equipment included grossly outdated T-62s and -72s of the Soviet era as well as similarly dated Type 69s of Chinese manufacture.[4]

McMaster was awarded the Silver Star. The battle features in several books about Desert Storm and is widely referred to in US Army training exercises. It also receives coverage in Tom Clancy's 1994 popular non-fiction book Armored Cav.[4] McMaster served as a military history professor at West Point from 1994 to 1996, teaching among other things the battles in which he fought. He graduated from the United States Army Command and General Staff College in 1999.[5]

Field grade officer

From 1999 to 2002, McMaster commanded 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, and then took a series of staff positions at U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), including planning and operations roles in Iraq.

In his next job, as lieutenant colonel and later colonel, McMaster worked on the staff of USCENTCOM as executive officer to Deputy Commander Lieutenant General John Abizaid. When Abizaid received four-star rank and became Central Command's head, McMaster served as Director, Commander's Advisory Group (CAG), described as the command's brain trust.

In 2003 McMaster completed an Army War College research fellowship at Stanford University's Hoover Institution.

In 2004, he was assigned to command the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment (3rd ACR). Shortly after McMaster took command the regiment deployed for its second tour in Iraq and was assigned the mission of securing the city of Tal Afar. That mission culminated in September with Operation Restoring Rights and the defeat of the city's insurgent strongholds. President Bush praised this success, and the PBS show Frontline broadcast a documentary in February 2006 featuring interviews with McMaster. CBS' 60 Minutes produced a similar segment in July,[6] and the operation was the subject of an article in the April 10, 2006, issue of The New Yorker.

Author Tim Harford has written that the pioneering tactics employed by 3rd ACR led to the first success in overcoming the Iraqi insurgency. Prior to 2005, tactics included staying out of dangerous urban areas except on patrols, with US forces returning to their bases each night. These patrols had little success in turning back the insurgency because local Iraqis who feared retaliation would very rarely assist in identifying them to US forces. McMaster deployed his soldiers into Tal Afar on a permanent basis, and once the local population grew confident that they weren't going to withdraw nightly, the citizens began providing information on the insurgents, enabling US forces to target and defeat them.[4][7]

McMaster passed command of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment on June 29, 2006 and joined the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, as a Senior Research Associate with a mandate described as "conduct[ing] research to identify opportunities for improved multi-national cooperation and political-military integration in the areas of counterinsurgency, counter-terrorism, and state building", and to devise "better tactics to battle terrorism."[8]

From August 2007 to August 2008 McMaster was part of an "elite team of officers advising US commander" General David Petraeus on counterinsurgency operations while Petraeus directed revision of the Army's Counterinsurgency Field Manual during his command of the Combined Arms Center.[9] Petraeus and most of his team were stationed in Fort Leavenworth at the time but McMaster collaborated remotely, according to senior team member John Nagl.[4][7]

General officer

McMaster was passed over for promotion to Brigadier General in 2006 and 2007, despite his reputation as one of "the most celebrated soldiers of the Iraq War."[10] Though the Army's rationale for whether a given officer is selected or not selected is not made public, McMaster's initial non-selection attracted media attention.[11][12][13] However, in late 2007, Secretary of the Army Pete Geren requested General David Petraeus to return from Iraq to take charge of the promotion board as a way to ensure that the best performers in combat received every consideration for advancement, resulting in McMaster's selection along with other Colonels who had been identified as innovative thinkers.[4][14] McMaster's name was subsequently released on the promotion list for Brigadier General in 2008.[15]

In August 2008, McMaster assumed duties as Director, Concept Development and Experimentation (later renamed Concept Development and Learning), in the Army Capabilities Integration Center (ARCIC) at Fort Monroe, Virginia, part of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. In this position McMaster was involved in preparing doctrine to guide the Army over the next ten to twenty years. He was promoted on June 29, 2009.[16][17]

In July 2010 he was selected to be the J-5, Deputy to the Commander for Planning, at ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces) Headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Additionally, McMaster directed a joint anti-corruption task force (CJIATF-Shafafiyat) at ISAF Headquarters.

In 2011, Army Chief of Staff General Martin Dempsey remarked that McMaster was "probably our best Brigadier General."[18]

McMaster as commander of the Maneuver Center of Excellence in 2012.

McMaster was nominated for Major General on January 23, 2012. In April 2012 he was announced as the next commander of the Army's Maneuver Center of Excellence (MCoE) at Ft. Benning.[19] On June 13, 2012, McMaster assumed command of the MCoE and was promoted to Major General in a ceremony at Ft. Benning [20] with a date of rank of August 2, 2012.

On February 18, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the nominations of four officers for promotion to Lieutenant General, including McMaster, who was selected to become Deputy Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command and Director of TRADOC's Army Capabilities Integration Center.[21]

In April 2014, McMaster made Time's list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He was hailed as "the architect of the future U.S. Army" in the accompanying piece written by retired Lt. Gen. Dave Barno, who commanded U.S. and allied forces in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. "Major General Herbert Raymond McMaster might be the 21st century Army's pre-eminent warrior-thinker," Barno wrote, commenting on McMaster's "impressive command and unconventional exploits in the second Iraq war."[22] Barno also stated, "Recently tapped for his third star, H.R. is also the rarest of soldiers—one who has repeatedly bucked the system and survived to join its senior ranks."[23] Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, a former Army vice chief, commented "It is heartening to see the Army reward such an extraordinary general officer who is a thought leader and innovator while also demonstrating sheer brilliance as a wartime brigade commander."[24]

In July 2014 McMaster was promoted to Lieutenant General and began his duties at the Army Capabilities Integration Center.[25]

National Security Advisor

On February 20, 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump named McMaster to serve as his National Security Advisor following the resignation of Michael T. Flynn on February 13.[26][27][28]

Decorations and badges

U.S. military decorations
Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star ribbon.svg
Silver Star
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit with Oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star with Oak leaf cluster
Purple Heart BAR.svg
Purple Heart
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with four Oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal with three Oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal with three Oak leaf clusters
U.S. service (campaign) medals and service and training ribbons
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal with one service star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal with three service stars
Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svg
Afghanistan Campaign Medal
Bronze star
Bronze star
Iraq Campaign Medal with two service stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon.svg
Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon
Foreign decorations
NATO Medal Active Endeavour ribbon bar.svg
NATO Medal
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia) ribbon.svg
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait) ribbon.svg
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
U.S. badges, patches and tabs
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
US Army Airborne basic parachutist badge.gif Parachutist Badge
Ranger Tab.svg Ranger Tab
USA - 3rd Calvary DUI.png 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment distinctive unit insignia
3dACRSSI.PNG 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
Multi-National Force-Iraq ShoulderSIeeveInsignia.jpg Multi-National Force – Iraq combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
70px United States Forces – Afghanistan combat service identification badge
Former War Time Service (SSI-FWTS)
TRADOC patch.svg United States Army Training and Doctrine Command shoulder sleeve insignia
U.S. orders
StetsonHatFortHoodArmy.jpg Order of the Spur Cavalry Hat and Spurs (Gold)

Notes and citations

  1. Lucey, Catherine (February 20, 2017). "PRES. TRUMP PICKS PHILADELPHIA NATIVE ARMY LT. GEN. H.R. MCMASTER AS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER". Associated Press. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  2. Spector, Ronald (July 20, 1997). "Cooking Up a Quagmire". New York Times. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  3. "M1a1 Abrams Tanks in action Iraq-73 Easting". 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Tim Harford (2011). Adapt: Why Success Always Starts with Failure. Little, Brown. pp. 46–56 , 61 ,72–74 , 77–78. ISBN 1-4087-0152-9. 
  5. WLA: War, Literature & the Arts, Volume 11. Colorado Springs, CO: U.S. Air Force Academy. 1999. p. 230. 
  6. "Tal Afar: Al Qaeda's Town". CBS News. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Tim Harford (May 23, 2011). "Lessons from war's factory floor". The Financial Times. Retrieved August 2, 2011. 
  8. International Institute for Strategic Studies – H.R. McMaster. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  9. Tisdall, Simon. Military chiefs give US six months to win Iraq War. The Guardian. 2007-02-28. Retrieved 2007-09-02.
  10. Kaplan, Fred (August 26, 2007), "Challenging the Generals", New York Times, retrieved September 2, 2007 
  11. "Col. McMaster". CBS News. 
  12. Fred Kaplan, Slate.com, Annual General Meeting: Finally, the Army is Promoting the Right Officers, August 4, 2008
  13. Blake Hounshell, Foreign Policy magazine, McMaster Gets His Star, July 16, 2008
  14. Ann Scott Tyson, "Army's Next Crop of Generals Forged in Counterinsurgency", Washington Post, May 15, 2008
  15. U.S. Department of Defense, General Officer Announcements, July 15, 2008
  16. U.S. Department of Defense News Release General Officer Announcements, July 15, 2008
  17. Hoover Institution, H.R. McMaster promoted to brigadier general in the U.S. Army, August 15, 2009
  18. Ricks, Thomas E. (July 27, 2011). "Dempsey on Two Big Lessons of Iraq: Think More and Train Leaders Better". Foreign Policy. 
  19. U.S. Army News Release, McMaster Tapped for Promotion, Command of Benning, April 4, 2012
  20. "McMaster to Take Reins at Maneuver Center". Army Times. June 11, 2012. 
  21. "4 Generals Nominated for Third Star". Army Times. February 18, 2014. 
  22. Army Times, Gen. McMaster makes Time's '100 most influential', April 25, 2014
  23. Barno, Dave (April 23, 2014). "Major General Herbert Raymond McMaster". Time. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  24. Bill Gertz, Washington Free Beacon, Iconoclast Army General to Get Third Star: Army Maj. Gen. H.R. McMaster Receives Promotion, February 18, 2014
  25. Amy L. Haviland, U.S. Army, McMaster to Lead Development of Future Force, July 16, 2014
  26. "Sean Spicer on Twitter". 
  27. "Trump Selects Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as National Security Adviser". Fox News. February 20, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 
  28. "Trump Names Lt Gen HR McMaster as National Security Adviser". BBC News. February 20, 2017. Retrieved February 20, 2017. 

Further reading

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Michael Flynn
National Security Advisor