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Jones Leaves WH; Start of New Team


The man touted as President Obama's next national security advisor would be a "disaster" in the job, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Bob Woodward, according to the new book "Obama's Wars."

Retired Gen. Jim Jones is leaving his job as National Security Advisor and is likely to be replaced by Tom Donilon, Jones’ deputy. It is likely to be an unpopular choice for the Pentagon. Woodward writes that, "Gates felt that Donilon did not understand the military or treat its senior leadership with sufficient respect. The secretary later told Jones that Donilon would be a 'disaster' as Obama's national security adviser."

And Jim Jones, who will be leaving the job as national security advisor it was finally confirmed today, had serious reservations about his deputy, according to Woodward.

"After praising his deputy for his "substantive and organizational skills" which made him indispensable to the president, he also reprimanded Donilon for three major mistakes:

First, he had never gone to Afghanistan or Iraq, 'or really left the office for a serious field trip. As a result, he said, you have no direct understanding of these places. 'You have no credibility with the military.' You should go overseas. The White House, Situation Room, interagency byplay, as important as they are, are not everything.

Second, Jones continued, you frequently pop off with absolute declarations about places you've never been, leaders you've never met, or colleagues you work with. Gates had mentioned this to Jones, saying that Donilon's sound-offs and strong spur-of-the-moment opinions, especially about one general, had offended him so much at an Oval Office meeting that he nearly walked out.

Third, Jones said that Donilon was not good in his dealings with his staff at the National Security Council, displaying 'too little feel for the people who work day and night....'"

A source familiar with the NSC said Donilon has a "reputation for being quote partisan and unforgiving about criticisms of the president."

But Jones' "departure is just the beginning," says Pentagon analyst and defense consultant Loren Thompson.

Next will come Gates, who is expected to leave in February. There is one up and coming name for Gates' replacement, Navy Secretary Ray Mabus. John Hamre of CSIS remains the front-runner on most lists. And Hillary Clinton, whom no one thinks wants the job, continues to be mentioned as a likely pick.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, is expected to leave next year.

And his deputy, Marine Gen. Hoss Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, will be leaving soon and he is still expected to be replaced by Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz, the service's chief of staff.

Put all that together and what you will have is the first all-Obama national security team.

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