As reported overnight, in the aftermath of Mike Flynn's resignation, the Trump administration - facing mounting domestic and international security concerns - has rushed to find a replacement for the top National Security Advisor job. The scramble to replace Flynn began on Monday evening and continued with phone calls and meetings into the early hours of Tuesday in an effort to enable Trump to make a decision and put the matter behind him as soon as possible, Reuters reported.
As a result, three names have emerged.
The first is that of Keith Kellogg, the NSC's chief of staff who advised Trump during his campaign, and who is taking over Flynn's duties as acting national security adviser until Trump finds an official replacement. Kellogg previously served as a COO in Baghdad for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) and later worked as a contractor for Oracle.
Another name thrown out is that of David Petraeus, who became CIA director in 2011 but resigned in 2012 after he was found guilty of lying to federal investigators about mishandling government information to his mistress.
However, the person who has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Michael Flynn, according to both Reuters and WaPo, is a senior naval officer who served under President Donald Trump's Defense Secretary James Mattis: Vice Admiral Robert Harward, who was deputy commander of U.S. Central Command under Mattis, will likely replace Flynn, officials quoted by Reuters said.
Harward served under Mattis while he was at U.S. Central Command and remains an ally and friend of the defense secretary. He is a Rhode Island native who went to school in Tehran before the shah was toppled in 1979. He went on to the U.S. Naval Academy and a long career in the Navy, where he worked on SEAL teams and was a commander in Afghanistan and Iraq. Harward did a tour on the National Security Council under Republican President George W. Bush working on counterterrorism.
"If the president goes in his direction, there would be very little opposition," said the official. "He's very highly regarded, and doesn't have the baggage that Petraeus has."
That said, since Harward is the Chief Executive Officer for Lockheed Martin in the UAE - in which this role "he is responsible for all aspects of the company’s business interests in the UAE, including strategy, operations, growth and execution of Lockheed Martin programs" -the Vice Admiral may be "incentivized" to perpetuate, if not accelerate, the various proxy wars in the region.
In any case, as the WaPo adds, on Monday night, Tommy Vietor, a former spokesman for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, wrote on Twitter that Harward is a “very impressive (and nice) guy.”
When asked if Harward was certain to be picked, the officials offered caution and said the discussions were ongoing. But they acknowledged that a consensus for Harward was evident, with Keith Kellogg, a decorated retired Army lieutenant general, and David H. Petraeus, a former CIA director and retired general, still on the list. Kellogg was named acting national security adviser on Monday after Trump accepted Flynn’s resignation letter.
Below is Vice Admiral Harward's bio from the Navy website:
Born in Newport, Rhode Island, Vice Adm. Robert Harward grew up in a Navy family and graduated from the Tehran American High School in Iran. After enlisting in the Navy, he was awarded a fleet appointment to the United States Naval Academy where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1979. Harward attended the College of Naval Command and Staff, the Naval Staff College and the Armed Forces Staff College. He holds a master’s degree in international relations and strategic security affairs, served as a federal executive fellow at RAND and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Center for International Studies, Foreign Policy Program Seminar XXI.
Harward qualified as a surface warfare officer aboard the destroyer USS Scott (DDG 995) and then transferred to the Naval Special Warfare community. He was the “Honor Man” of Basic Underwater Demolition (BUD)/Sea, Air, Land (SEAL) class 128 and has served in both East and West coast SEAL teams.
Tours in the Naval Special Warfare community include: commander, SEAL Team 3; Assault Team leader and operations officer at Naval Special Warfare Development Group; SEAL plans officer for Commander, Amphibious Force U.S. 7th Fleet; executive officer, Naval Special Warfare Unit 1; aide-de-camp to Commander, U.S. Special Operations Command; Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force (CJSOTF) deputy commander in Bosnia; deputy commander Special Operations Command, Pacific; commander, Naval Special Warfare Group 1; and, deputy commanding general, Joint Special Operations Command.
Assignments outside of his community include a tour in the executive office of the president at the White House where he served on the National Security Council as the director of Strategy and Policy for the office of Combating Terrorism. His first flag assignment was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff representative to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), as a member of the Senior Interagency Strategy Team. Additionally, he served as deputy commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and most recently he served as commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force (CJIATF) 435 from 2009 to 2011 in Afghanistan. Harward has commanded troops in Afghanistan and Iraq over six years since Sept. 11, 2001.
Harward served as deputy commander, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), located in Tampa, Florida.