WASHINGTON – In the latest White House staff shakeup, President Barack Obama announced Friday that Gen. James L. Jones is stepping down as national security adviser at the end of October and will be replaced by his deputy, Tom Donilon.
The change at the top of the National Security Council comes as Obama presides over an escalation of the war in Afghanistan and peace negotiations in the Middle East. By next July, the administration is expected to decide how quickly to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and Donilon has stressed internally the importance of meeting the deadline.
Jones provided deep foreign policy knowledge to a president who entered office without strong international credentials.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Obama said he relied on Jones’ advice daily. “Given the multiple crises we have inherited,” said Obama, citing Jones experience as commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Marine Corps commandant, “he called on all of these experiences as national security adviser.”
Obama added that Jones, who had not sought out the post, had asked from the beginning that he only serve for two years, citing family commitments.
Donilon has worked in three presidencies and was the chief of staff for Secretary of State Warren Christopher under President Bill Clinton.
Obama on Friday said that his longtime foreign policy adviser has “won the respect of his colleagues in the White House.” He lauded Donilon for a “remarkable work ethic” fueled by a “seemingly endless supply of Diet Coke.”