Trump Tracker: Pioneer updates on America’s president

Kali Persall,
Managing Editor

What Happened?

On Monday, President Donald Trump named Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new national security advisor to replace former national security advisor and retired army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who was fired last week for withholding information from Vice President Mike Pence.


McMaster is a decorated military powerhouse with a Ph.D. in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, according to CNN. He currently serves as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center, an organization of military professionals that develops new concepts to strengthen the army, a position he has held since 2014, according to the ACI center.

According to CNN, he is the first active-duty military officer to claim the position since Gen. Colin Powell served as former President Ronald Reagan’s advisor from 1987 to 1989.

McMaster replaced Flynn, who resigned on Feb. 13, after only 24 days on the job. Flynn admitted to providing Vice President Pence with an incomplete briefing about his correspondence with the Russian ambassador to the United States, according to the New York Times.

David Baggins, Cal State East Bay professor in the department of political science described McMaster as a relief to the military establishment, as he represents a return to professionalism. His appointment signifies a continuation of prior policies due to his views on China and Russia as threats, NATO as an ally and the Middle East as a “complex tragedy in which the U.S. must not be involved,” said Baggins.

He is a counterbalance to the Trump ideas that [the] U.S. can partner with Russia for mutual benefit,” he said.

Over the past month, numerous other high-ranking officials have abandoned their posts for various reasons; several for making critical comments about Trump.

Craig Deare, former head of the National Security Council’s Western Hemisphere Division was fired on Feb. 19 for criticizing Trump, his chief strategist Steve Bannon and the disorganization of the White House at a private roundtable attended by two dozen scholars, according to Mother Jones.

Shermichael Singleton, a senior advisor in the Department of Housing and Urban Development, was also fired on Feb. 15 after vetting revealed that he wrote critically about Trump in the past, according to the New York Times.

The New York Times described McMaster as “one of the military’s most independent-minded officers” with a track record of challenging “conventional thinking.” He is particularly well-known for his command of troops during the Persian Gulf War — which earned him a silver star — and for his expert strategizing during the second Iraq War in 2010, according to the New York Times.

McMaster wasn’t Trump’s first pick for the position; he first offered the job to United States Navy’s Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who turned it down due to concerns over the operation of the White House, CNN reported.

However, McMaster is known for being outspoken and brazen almost to a fault; a trait he and Trump have in common.

Early traces of this quality can be detected in a dissertation he wrote for the University of North Carolina, which criticized the actions of the joint chief of staff during the Vietnam War, according to the New York Times. The dissertation was later published as a book in 1997.

The decision follows Trump’s Jan. 27 executive order that promises to strengthen the military through new new ships, planes, weapons and a revamping of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, according to the Washington Post.

Trump’s appointment was hailed by Republicans — even those who have spoken out against Trump like Sen. John McCain — as “an outstanding choice.”