The White House is preparing to lose many young, activist-oriented national security experts in advance of GOP President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Junior officials belonging to the National Security Council (NSC) are gearing up to leave before Trump takes office, according to current and former officials who spoke with The Guardian.
This exodus is apparently partly triggered by reports that incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn violated the rules when he previously shared classified information with foreign governments, but it’s also because Republicans want to reduce the size of the NSC by at least half — down to 200 career civil servant staffers.
“Career people are looking get out and go back to their agencies and pressure is being put on them to get them to stay. There is concern there will be a half-empty NSC by the time the new administration arrives, which no one wants,” one official told The Guardian.
The size of the NSC has ballooned under the Obama administration, moving from 40 staffers during the George W. Bush years, to 400 staffers.
Former military officials have argued that the Obama administration’s NSC is stacked full of inexperienced activists who have been far too aggressive in micromanaging the Department of Defense to achieve ideological ends.
This same complaint is shared by former Pentagon heads Robert Gates, Leon Panetta and Chuck Hagel. These former secretaries of defense have publicly drawn notice to the fact that the administration has chosen many junior staffers, who lack any kind of real experience, but make up for that lack with an ideological agenda shared by the White House.
For Gates, the perfect illustration of President Barack Obama’s ideological approach to national security is when he sided with a few junior backbenchers against nearly the entire NSC to support the coup in Egypt against then-President Hosni Mubarak.
According to Gates, the reason Obama disregarded the will of the NSC is because he wanted to be on “the right side of history.”
Egypt has been wracked with violence and Islamic radicalism following the coup.
And now, many younger officials from the Obama administration are looking to get out of the NSC.
Julianne Smith, director of strategy and statecraft at the Center for a New American Security told The Guardian that “Many of them are starting to look at other options, some of the younger people are looking to switch careers, return to graduate school, try and go abroad. I have seen and met with a lot of these people and there does seem to be an unusual level of worry and concern and fear.”
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