National Security Advisor Lt. General H.R. McMaster is in consideration for a promotion to four-star General. As a four-star general McMaster’s departure from the White House would be inevitable and that he would possibly accept a position as the Army’s Vice Chief of Staff, the second-highest-ranking active duty Army position, or possibly accept a position as one of the joint Combatant Command Commander roles.
My sources with knowledge of the Pentagon and Army’s decision-making that deal with general officer promotion process indicated that Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley would support this because he does not want to deal with the controversy of one of his senior general’s serving as the President’s National Security Advisor being fired or removed from such a position under circumstances that might look controversial. I’ve made this point clear previously to a number of people following the concerns over General McMaster’s actions, decisions, and policymaking.
In my discussions with a number subject matter experts in Washington, I and others see promoting McMaster to full General would be seen as “failing up” to some, and a win-win to others. For the Trump White House it would remove McMaster who as a result would in turn not enjoy his tenure at the national security advisor, as he finds his national security advisory role as stifling. A number of people close to the President have said that he would like to see McMaster exit gracefully rather than deal with another news cycle about personnel shifts. A number of my sources believe as do I that McMaster has been deliberately antagonizing and undermining the President.
Of course, when this happens, President Trump would again have to deal with the naming of his third national security adviser likely within about a year. But McMaster’s departure on the terms defined and due to promotion within the Army ranks would be seen more acceptable than the alterative of being fired or removed. While his role as national security advisor may have been seen at times as contentious and debatable, and in a number of situations not in-line with the President’s policy and thinking, at least ideologically, he has not done anything wrong so to speak. The only other active duty general officer to serve as national security adviser and be promoted to a fourth star was Colin Powell, serving under President Ronald Reagan.
IMAGE: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque