H. R. McMaster

Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow

H. R. McMaster is the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He 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

In the News

This Picture (Plus F-35s) Is How The U.S. Marines Would Fight China In A War

quoting H. R. McMastervia Yahoo News
Tuesday, October 22, 2019

HIMARS packing new missiles could give the Corps a serious and survivable anti-ship capability. Adding F-35s could help the rockets strike with greater accuracy. And swiftly moving the launchers by air could protect them from counterattack ... and keep the enemy guessing.

In the News

The Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle: Have We Explored All The Requirements?

cited H. R. McMastervia American Military News
Monday, September 30, 2019

In 1990, I was a young Marine Corps Captain attending the US Army Armor Advanced Course in Ft. Knox, Kentucky.  One insightful book that stood out was “King of the Killing Zone: The Story of the M-1, America’s Super Tank” by Orr Kelly, a longtime Washington defense reporter. 


H. R. McMaster Says Tariffs On China Should Stay Until Behavior Changes

interview with H. R. McMastervia The Asahi Shimbun
Saturday, June 22, 2019

Hoover Institution fellow H.R. McMaster discusses some of the most pressing foreign policy issues facing the Asia-Pacific region including the trade issues with China and the nuclear issues with North Korea.

Analysis and Commentary

Threats To Free And Open Societies

interview with H. R. McMaster, Niall Ferguson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Larry Diamondvia C-SPAN
Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Hoover Institution fellows H.R. McMaster, Niall Ferguson, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Larry Diamond discuss threats to free and open societies and what can be done to defeat these threats across government, the private sector, academia, and civil society.

In the News

Ex-Top Trump Aide McMaster Says Accepting North Korea Nukes Would Push Japan To Debate Own Deterrent

featuring H. R. McMastervia Japan Times
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Former U.S. national security adviser H.R. McMaster has said that the United States accepting North Korea as a de facto nuclear power would prompt Japan to debate whether or not it needed its own nuclear weapons, a claim that comes amid rekindled tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

In the News

H.R. McMaster Says The Public Is Fed A ‘War-Weariness’ Narrative That Hurts US Strategy

featuring H. R. McMastervia Military Times
Thursday, May 9, 2019

War in Afghanistan can be sustained, but the narrative of a war-weary American public is hurting that effort, former National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said Wednesday. Long wars are manageable when waged alongside allies, utilizing burden sharing, said McMaster, who now serves as chairman of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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Pacific Century: H.R. McMaster Takes On China

interview with H. R. McMaster, Michael R. Auslin, John Yoovia The Pacific Century
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Hoover fellow and former national security advisor H.R. McMaster joins the Pacific Century to discuss the rise of China.

In the News

China Threat Requires Coordinated US-Japan Response: McMaster

featuring H. R. McMastervia Nikkei Asian Review
Saturday, May 4, 2019

The public, private and academic sectors of Japan and the U.S. should deepen coordination against China's economic and military strategies, former U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster argues.


H.R. McMaster Talks Foreign Policy, National Security After Working In Trump’s Cabinet

featuring H. R. McMastervia Stanford Daily
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Former National Security Advisor and Hoover Institution senior fellow H. R. McMaster discussed the recent history of American foreign policy and his own beliefs on the trajectory of American national security on Monday night as a guest speaker for the course POLISCI 221SI: “Issues in American Politics and Public Policy.”

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Competence and Confidence

by H. R. McMastervia Hoover Digest
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

“Strategic patience” in Asia has run its course. Now we and our allies must prepare for whatever comes next.