National Security

Podesta Emails Reveal What Obama Administration Really Thought Of Top Generals

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Russ Read Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter
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A stolen email from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta reveals what the Obama administration really thinks of several of the nation’s top generals.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and retired Air Force Gen. Mark Welsh, the former Air Force  Chief of Staff, were “seen as great leaders but weak on strategic thinking,” according to Christopher Kirchhoff, a Pentagon official who was then working on the National Security Council.

The email, sent to Podesta March 30, 2015 and released by WikiLeaks Sunday, offers Kirchhoff’s blunt opinions on potential candidates for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which had yet to be filled at the time. Kirchhoff sent the email to Podesta through his government account. The email is just one of hundreds from Podesta’s email account, which is believed to have been hacked by a Russian-backed group.

“Winnefeld is seen as the clearest thinker,” wrote Kirchhoff, regarding Navy Adm. James Winnefeld, but is “often too abrasive to military and civilian leaders.”

“Winnefeld is a lucid thinker in a crisis whose grasp of the substance of military options would best serve you and the president in a true emergency,” Kirchhoff told Secretary of Defense Ash Carter in another email. “He is more ready than anyone else for the 3am phone call.”

Apparently National Security Adviser Susan Rice was not as keen on Winnefeld. Kirchhoff said Rice was “not opposed to but also not particularly excited by” the admiral.

Kirchhoff told Podesta he attached a “final memo” pushing for Winnefeld’s nomination so that he could “back channel it to Denis,” an apparent reference to Obama administration Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

Ultimately, Obama would choose Dunford over Winnefeld, who would later retire in 2015.

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