WASHINGTON — Retired Marine Gen. Jim Jones is stepping down as National Security Advisor and will be replaced by his deputy Tom Donilon, President Barack Obama announced at the White House today.
Obama praised Jones for his patriotism, intellect and steadiness.
“The American people owe Jim and his family an unbelievable debt of gratitude for a lifetime of service,” Obama told reporters gathered in the Rose Garden for the announcement. “As a Marine in Vietnam, he risked his life for our country and was highly decorated for his courage.”
Jones served as the commandant of the Marine Corps, then as Supreme Allied Commander—Europe — the first Marine to hold that office. Obama said Jones drew on all of his military experiences in his White House job.
“We have withdrawn 100,000 troops and ended our combat mission in Iraq,” Obama said. “We’re refocused on the war on al-Qaida and subjected its leadership to relentless pressure.” Jones helped to formulate a new strategy that provides the resources needed in the fight against extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president said. Jones also was instrumental in re-setting U.S. relations with Russia and negotiating tough new sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program, Obama said.
Meanwhile, America has some challenges ahead, he said.
“We remain a nation at war,” the president said. “And we will not rest in our efforts to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaida.
“Above all,” he continued, “we are committed to forging the kind of American leadership that can shape the world in the 21st century, just as we shaped the world in the 20th –- a world of greater peace, a world of growing markets and expanding prosperity, a world of shared security, a world where American leadership enlists the support of old allies and new partners while advancing the values that help keep us safe and make America a beacon to the world.”
During his remarks Jones saluted the efforts and sacrifices of U.S. servicemembers and their families.
“We think of our troops, our men and women in uniform and their families, and the incredible sacrifice and example they set for us every day around the world,” he said. “They are the future of our country. They are the future leaders; they are the future entrepreneurs; they are the future scientists. And they will carry us into the 21st century.”
Vice President Joe Biden also praised Jones in a statement released today.
“I am grateful to Jim Jones for his service to this administration — and to our nation,” Biden said. “In a time of extraordinary challenge and change, he led our national security team with a steady hand, sound judgment and genuine decency. Jim never sought the position he is leaving; instead he answered once again the call to service. Like President Obama, I am thankful that he did.”
The vice president also voiced his support for Jones’ successor.
“Tom Donilon has been my friend and advisor for nearly 25 years,” Biden said. “These past two years, he has been at the heart of our foreign and national security policies. He brings to his new responsibilities a remarkable depth of knowledge about the challenges and opportunities our country faces around the world. President Obama and I are fortunate to be able to rely on his counsel and leadership.”
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, thanked Jones for his service and leadership. He said Jones was always accessible for consultations.
“On a personal level, I know I have benefitted greatly from his wisdom, experience and mentorship -– especially as we have labored together to prosecute two wars and meet a host of security commitments around the world,” Mullen said. “I am proud to call him a friend.”
Mullen wished Donilon well, saying he is a known and respected national security official.
“I have enjoyed working with him these past two years, found him equally dedicated to our national security, and look forward to an even closer relationship moving forward,” the chairman said. “He will continue to have my complete support and that of the Chiefs.”
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said he thoroughly enjoyed working with Jones.
“And I have, and have had, a very productive and very good working relationship with Tom Donilon,” Gates added, noting that he looks forward to working with Donilon in the future.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)