Obama's national security 'team of rivals'
His choice of Gates, Clinton, and Jones reflects his goal of building a bipartisan cabinet.
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“[Gates] would likely offer a pragmatic view and a balanced approach to demands on people, the budget, and operational priorities,” says Mr. Fallon.
In picking Jones, who is respected both in military circles and on Capitol Hill, Obama is trying to show he is his own man.
Jones was a top military officer in the early years of the Bush administration and, as a member of the Joint Chiefs in 2002, a voice of caution in the run-up to the Iraq war.
In Bush’s second term, he was asked to join the State Department but declined, though he did serve as a special envoy to the Middle East. The general is considered a “warrior-diplomat.”
Jones broke Pentagon tradition by leaving the Marine Corps’ top job to become head of US European Command and of NATO in Europe instead of retiring. There, he led the effort to redefine the alliance by pushing it to take over the Afghanistan mission. In the years since, he has said the administration took its “eye off the ball” in Afghanistan.
He is known to follow his own political instincts but also pay heed to the advice of trusted aides. “He is very effective at managing a large staff and instilling loyalty and being able to seamlessly work issues across multiple stakeholders in a diplomatic fashion,” says a former aide.
Gates is expected to serve in the Obama Cabinet for just up to a year, but he probably won’t have the luxury of delaying decisions on key weapons programs such as the Army’s high-tech future combat system or the Air Force’s expensive F-22 stealth fighter.
Gates will also have to address the long-term strains on the force as a result of five years of war in Iraq. Piracy along the East African coast may also require his attention.
But Obama on Monday said he believed the team he has assembled can address these challenges, perhaps precisely because of the variety of perspectives its members provide.
“There is no monopoly of power or wisdom in either party,” he said.