Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and the White House say he will remain on active duty while serving as national security adviser, which will require a Senate vote at some point.
The post does not require Senate confirmation, but Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat and ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said last week that if McMaster "wants to retain his rank as an active three-star general while serving in the White House as the national security adviser, the Senate will have a role in the process and a vote."
Reed, a West Point graduate and former Army Ranger, continued, "There are weighty questions about senior active-duty officers and non-military service that deserve careful consideration. The Senate should play a constructive role in this process."
The issue did not arise in the brief appointment of McMaster's predecessor, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, since he had already retired. Although the post does not require confirmation by the full Senate, the law states that the Senate must vote on the ranks of three- and four-star generals when they are assigned new jobs, according to Reed.
McMaster would not need a Senate vote if he were to retire or revert to two-star rank, but a Senate vote to allow him to remain as national security adviser at his three-star rank could be a formality since there is precedent.
Retired Army Gen. Colin Powell was a lieutenant general when he was appointed national security adviser during the administration of former President Ronald Reagan in 1987, and he retained his three-star rank after a Senate vote.
Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Brent Scowcroft was named national security adviser in 1975 by former President Gerald Ford but retired from active duty a month later.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.