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James L. Jones, National Security Adviser

James L. Jones, a retired Marine commandant, brings extensive military and diplomatic experience to his new post as national security adviser for President Barack Obama.

December 02, 2008

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james jonesRetired Marine Gen. James L. Jones, tapped to be national security adviser for the Obama administration, brings extensive military and diplomatic experience. In a 40-year military career, Jones served in Vietnam, the Persian Gulf War, and in the Balkans before wrapping up as NATO’s supreme commander.

Jones was a military aide to Defense Secretary William Cohen during the Clinton administration. Most recently, Jones worked for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a special envoy for Middle East security. He also chaired a commission on Iraq’s security forces, commissioned by Congress, which released a report (pdf) in September 2007 finding Iraqi armed forces increasingly able to meet their responsibility to provide internal security. But the report concluded there would not be enough progress in the near term to "secure Iraqi borders against conventional military and external threats."

Jones served as commander of NATO and U.S. forces in Europe before his retirement at the end of 2006. His role included oversight of operations in Afghanistan, the alliance’s first military engagement outside of Europe. In a CFR briefing in Washington in October 2006, Jones stressed the importance of beefing up reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, otherwise "anything we do militarily is perishable." He added: "I think there is a requirement to do more and to bring more focus, more clarity, more purpose, and more results in a shorter period of time. And fundamentally, this is the exit strategy for Afghanistan."

He said in a January 2007 interview that the main threat in Afghanistan is the "influence of narcotics on the culture, on the economy, and with regard to the support, the economic support that it gives to the insurgency." He also called for judicial reform and said Afghanistan’s government led by President Hamid Karzai needed to be "more visible inside of its own boundaries."

Selected Readings:

Associated Press interview with Gen. James Jones. August 31, 2006.

NATO’s Role in Afghanistan. Jones gives Council on Foreign Relations briefing. Oct. 4, 2006

PBS NewsHour interview with Jones. January 17, 2007.

Transcript: Jones on Meet the Press. September 9, 2007.


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