Gates on Donilon: A 'Disaster' as National Security Advisor [With UPDATE]

Bob Woodward's new book, "Obama's Wars," contains multiple tidbits of conflict between President Obama's new national security adviser, Tom Donilon, and U.S. military leadership.

Donilon's "sound-offs" are described, as is criticism from James Jones, the current NSA who is resigning today and will be replaced by Donilon as Obama appears in the Rose Garden to announce the change.

Perhaps most notably, Defense Secretary Robert Gates predicts Donilon would be a "disaster" as Jones's successor. The remark appears to have been conveyed to Woodward by an aide. [See UPDATE below: Gates praised Donilon this morning after news of Jones's departure broke.]

From page 343:

The Pentagon also had concerns about Donilon. When criticism of Jones had reached a high-water mark the previous year, Gates had decided to publicly embrace him. "I think of Jim as the glue that holds this team together," Gates told The Washington Post's David Ignatius, whose "Jim Jones's Team" ran prominently on the op-ed page.

Gates did this in part, he told an aide, because he did not think Donilon would work out as Jones's successor. 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.

Which is what Donilon will be, as of later today.

UPDATE: Gates had positive things to say about Donilon today after news of Jones's departure broke and not-so-obliquely knocked down Woodward's reporting.

At a press conference this morning, Gates said: "I have thoroughly enjoyed working with Gen. Jones and I have, and have had, a very productive and very good working relationship with Tom Donilon, contrary to what you may have read and I look forward to working with him."
Presented by

Chris Good is a political reporter for ABC News. He was previously an associate editor at The Atlantic and a reporter for The Hill.

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