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Friday, October 8, 2010

New Obama security adviser clashed with military

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama will name close aide Tom Donilon as his new national security adviser on Friday in a move that could have implications for the struggling U.S. war effort in Afghanistan.
A senior administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama's current national security adviser, Jim Jones, a former Marine general, resigned on Friday.
Jones' resignation had been widely expected as part of a mid-term reshuffle in the White House. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also signaled his intention to resign sometime in 2011, while Admiral Mike Mullen, the top U.S. military officer is also expected to retire.
The series of departures will give Obama an opportunity to reshape his national security team at a time when the United States is still deeply involved in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and is trying to isolate Iran over its nuclear program.
Obama was to make a statement to the media at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT), the White House said.
Jones was the point person for coordinating foreign policy advice to Obama, but was often portrayed as an outsider who struggled to make his voice heard over Obama's close-knit group of advisers who were with him on his 2008 election campaign.
Donilon has served in senior roles in the State Department and is close to Vice President Joe Biden. He is known as one of the White House's hardest working staffers and associates describe him as highly effective.
As Obama's new security adviser, Donilon will play a key role in the administration's review of its strategy in Afghanistan, where the security situation continues to deteriorate despite Obama dispatching 30,000 more troops to break the momentum of a resurgent Taliban.
In veteran U.S. journalist Bob Woodward's new book "Obama's Wars," which gives an inside look at how Obama crafted his Afghan war strategy, Donilon is shown as deeply skeptical of a big troop increase in Afghanistan.
Donilon was part of a circle of close aides who urged Obama to push back against the military's request for a large U.S. troop increase.
Jones is the latest in a series of high-level Obama aides to leave the administration recently, following Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, who left to run for mayor of Chicago. National Economic Council Director Larry Summers is leaving by the end of the year and Council of Economic Advisers Chairwoman Christina Romer left last month.
(Additional reporting by David Alexander and Caren Bohan; Editing by Vicki Allen)

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