H. R. McMaster

Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow

H. R. McMaster was the 26th assistant to the president for National Security Affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the United States Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018.

From 2014 to 2017 McMaster designed the future army as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the deputy commanding general of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). As commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he oversaw all training and education for the army’s infantry, armor, and cavalry force. His extensive experience leading soldiers and organizations in wartime includes commander of the Combined Joint Inter-Agency Task Force—Shafafiyat in Kabul, Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012; commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq from 2005 to 2006; and Commander of Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Desert Storm from 1990 to 1991. McMaster also served overseas as advisor to the most senior commanders in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

McMaster led or col-ed important strategic assessments including the revision of Iraq strategy during the “surge” of 2007 and efforts to develop security forces and governmental institutions in post-war Iraq. In 2009–2010, he co-led an assessment and planning effort to develop a comprehensive strategy for the greater Middle East.

McMaster was an assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy from 1994 to 1996 where he taught undergraduate courses in military history and history of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He also taught a graduate course on the history of military leadership for officers enrolled in the Columbia University MBA program.

He is author of the award-winning book, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam. He has published scores of essays, articles, and book reviews on leadership, history, and the future of warfare in many publications including Foreign Affairs, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times. He was a contributing editor for Survival: Global Politics and Strategy from 2010 to 2017.

McMaster was commissioned as an officer in the United States Army upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1984. He holds a PhD in military history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Recent Commentary

John McCain

John McCain And The Meaning Of Courage

by H. R. McMastervia Foreign Affairs
Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Carl von Clausewitz, the Prussian philosopher of war, wrote in the early nineteenth century that “courage is of two kinds: first, physical courage, or courage in the presence of danger; and next, moral courage, or courage before responsibility.” The late U.S. Senator John McCain demonstrated both types.

Remarks By LTG H.R. McMaster At Atlantic Council Baltic Summit Dinner

by H. R. McMaster
Tuesday, April 3, 2018

President Kaljulaid, President Vejonis, Minister Linkevicius, distinguished guests and colleagues from the United States and our allies, it is an honor to address you this evening on the historic occasion of the U.S.-Baltic Centennial Summit. I want to congratulate Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania once again on their 100th Anniversary of Independence.

USS Bataan (LHD-5), a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship.

Remarks By LTG H.R. McMaster At The United States Naval Academy

by H. R. McMaster
Sunday, January 21, 2018

Thank you, Tayler (MIDN Johnston) for that introduction.  I am honored to have the opportunity to address you—the future leaders and officers of our American Navy and Marine Corps — the greatest naval force the World has known. I want to thank all of you for your patriotism and for your willingness to serve our nation and your fellow sailors and Marines.

Remarks By LTG H.R. McMaster At The Reagan National Defense Forum: Reclaiming America’S Strategic Confidence

by H. R. McMaster
Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thank you, John, for that kind introduction, and thanks to the Reagan National Defense Forum for bringing together such a talented and dedicated group of people for these discussions. Today, I would like to talk about reclaiming America’s strategic confidence.

"Think-Learn-Analyze-Implement: How the Army Develops Capability and Capacity to Develop the Future Force" at College of William and Mary

by H. R. McMaster
Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The US Army develops capabilities to improve the combat effectiveness of the future force by using the "Think-Learn-Analyze-Implement" construct.

Harbingers of Future War: Implications for the Army with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster

by H. R. McMaster
Wednesday, May 4, 2016

LTG H.R. McMaster discusses the harbingers of future war and implications for the United States Army.

H.R. McMaster

LTG McMaster Keynote Speech at the 100th Anniversary of ROTC at Norwich University

by H. R. McMaster
Wednesday, April 27, 2016

The importance of ROTC to our nation in creating leaders and connecting the military to those in whose name they fight.

#Leadership Through Example

by H. R. McMaster
Thursday, March 31, 2016

Advice for battalion and squadron commanders before assuming command.

Battle of 73 Easting: Victory from Chaos

by H. R. McMaster
Monday, February 29, 2016

Panel discussion at the George Bush Presidential Library/ Annenberg Presidential Conference Center, Texas A&M University on 25 February 2016 marking the 25th anniversary of the Battle of 73 Easting.

Eagle Troop at the Battle of 73 Easting: Lessons for Today's Small Unit Leaders

by H. R. McMaster
Thursday, February 25, 2016

Advice for young combat leaders through the story of the Battle of 73 Easting on 25 February 1991.