Gen. James L. Jones will bring "the dual experience of serving in uniform and as a diplomat" to the position of national security adviser, President-elect Barack Obama said Monday in appointing the former NATO commander to the top Cabinet post.
Jones, a Vietnam War veteran who served as the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and Commander of the European Command from 2003 until 2006 and chairman of the Congressional Independent Commission on the Security Forces in Iraq, boasts both diplomatic experience and more than 40 years of military service.
"Jim is focused on the threats of today and the future," Obama said in a news conference announcing his national security team. "He understands the connection between energy and national security, and has worked on the frontlines of global instability -- from Kosovo to northern Iraq to Afghanistan."
The four-star, 64-year-old Marine general has voiced criticism of handling of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. In a study for the Atlantic Council of the United States earlier this year, Jones said, "make no mistake, NATO is not winning in Afghanistan," a comment that directly contradicted White House reports on the status of the Afghan conflict, according to the New York Times.
In his report, Jones blamed a lack of a definitive strategy "that could dependably bring reconstruction projects and other assistance into areas from which the Taliban had been routed" for continuing struggles in the region, the Times reported.
The president-elect has repeatedly emphasized his policy intentions to intensify efforts in Afghanistan and set a course for withdrawal from Iraq. Before Mr. Obama traveled to Afghanistan during the campaign, Jones briefed the then-candidate on the status of the U.S. and NATO mission in the region.
In November of 2007, Jones was appointed special envoy for Middle East security, tasked with helping Palestinian leaders to "better design a security concept," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said upon his nomination.
"Any lasting peace must be built on solid foundations of security," Jones said, according to Agence France-Presse. "Israelis must be confident that a Palestinian state will increase their security, not detract from it."
Also during his retirement from the military, Jones has led the Institute for 21st Century Energy, a project of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The organization is tasked with exploring clean energy supplies while also protecting national security.
"Jim Jones has always been a notch or two above everybody," Les Palm, a retired two-star Marine general, told the Associated Press. "He's a good tactician, obviously, in a fight. But he also has a rare combination of being a strategic thinker and a statesman. He has a tremendous ability to get people of differing views to agree. He has had a lot of different jobs that allowed him to look at things differently and to understand that a lot of times you don't solve things with brute force."
Jones was the first Marine Corps general to serve as SACEUR/EUCOM commander, and while in his post, he led the Allied Commander Operations of NATO's military forces in Europe. Jones retired from the post on Dec. 7, 2006 to be replaced by U.S. Army General John Craddock. He has also served as Commandant of the Marine Corps.
The general, who was born in Kansas City, Mo., was raised in a family of service members and spent most of his childhood in France. Upon returning to the United States, Jones attended the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and entered the military.
Between 1976 and 1979, Jones served in the Officer Assignments Section at the Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, during which he was promoted to Major. Until July 1984, Jones served as the Marine Corps Liaison Officer to the U.S. Senate, where he served under Arizona Sen. John McCain, then a U.S. Navy captain. Jones was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in September of 1982 and to General in June of 1999.