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Kellogg, Keith

National Security Adviser to Vice President Mike Pence (May 2018 –   )Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council (2017 – 2018)

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Keith Kellogg is the national security adviser to Vice President Mike Pence. He previously served as executive secretary and chief of staff for the National Security Council and was temporarily President Donald Trump’s national security adviser after Michael Flynn was forced to resign amid scandals over his contacts with Russia and other illicit activities. Kellogg—a retired Army three-star general—was chief of staff to Paul Bremer who led the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S.-led governing body during the occupation in Iraq after he left the military.[1]

In March 2018, Kellogg was rumored, along with John Bolton, to be under consideration to replace H.R. McMaster as Trump’s national security adviser.[2] Bolton was eventually chosen. During Trump’s presidential campaign, Kellogg was one of his closest foreign policy advisers.

From 2005 until he returned to government service in 2017, Kellogg worked as an executive for some of the United States’ largest military contractors, several of which became embroiled in controversies involving intrusive surveillance and interrogators who were involved with torture.[3]

Pence’s Adviser

Kellogg was named as Mike Pence’s national security adviser on April 23, 2018. Pence chose Kellogg after his first choice, Jon Lerner, withdrew his name from consideration upon hearing of President Trump’s angry reaction to his being named to the post.

Kellogg’s role was more politically—rather than strategically or policy—oriented. According to one anonymous source said to have worked closely with him, “Kellogg was often the only person in NSC meetings who would bring up Trump’s campaign promises and remind people of naked politics. This was sometimes uncomfortable in a room of people who largely liked to stay above politics, but it was an important role.”[4]

This characterization was consistent with Pence’s previous choice of Lerner, a political operative who is not considered a foreign policy or national security expert.

Kellogg is known as a strong supporter of Trump’s policies, but the new National Security Adviser John Bolton preferred to bring his own staff into the NSC.[5] According to one report, “When Vice President Mike Pence suggested the idea of taking on Kellogg—a man the president loves—as his national security adviser about a week ago, senior officials including Chief of Staff John Kelly and Bolton viewed it as a ‘win-win.’”[6]

Trump’s Adviser

During his time as an adviser to Trump’s campaign and as an official in his administration, Kellogg has maintained a low profile. Although it was reported that both the special counsel[7] and the Senate committee[8] investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election had spoken with Kellogg, he did not take the opportunity to speak about the issue to the media at all. His input into specific Trump administration policies has been opaque.

However, in August 2017, Kellogg penned an op-ed for the right-wing web site Breitbart in which he praised Trump’s performance, specifically praising the decision to recommit to the war in Afghanistan, a war which, as of Kellogg’s writing, was already the longest in U.S. history.

“I have been with the President since nearly the beginning, well before he was the Republican Presidential nominee. I wrote on the campaign trail that he was the leader who will take us forward and I still deeply believe that today,” Kellogg wrote. He went on to say that Trump’s policy would not be more of the same, yet when he outlined that policy, he wrote, “We will use our integrated military, political, and economic efforts to promote stability in the region. We will demand that nations ultimately provide for their own security. Those that harbor terrorist networks must eliminate them.”[9] This was the same goal that both George W. Bush and Barack Obama pursued in Afghanistan.

During the election campaign, Kellogg was similarly in the background for the most part, but emerged occasionally, as he did on CNN in August 2016, saying, “I happen to think my guy has got the temperament to be the commander in chief. I happen to think my guy’s got it right.”[10]

While Kellogg’s specific views on many policies remain unknown, he has been a frequent travel companion of Trump’s.[11] This, combined with Trump’s well-known affection for Kellogg[12] and Kellogg’s effluviant praise for the president, suggests that he is supportive of Trump’s policies.

Iraq

Kellogg ended his military career in 2003 as the Pentagon’s director of command, control, and communications for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, with the rank of three-star Lt. General. But his mark on Iraq was made after his military service when he was chief of staff to L. Paul Bremer, who led the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). The CPA was the body which governed Iraq while it was under the occupation of the United States and its allies. Writing in Foreign Affairs, Lawrence D. Freedman says of the CPA, “Headed by Paul Bremer, the CPA was far better endowed than the (Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance), but it so alienated the Iraqis that after six months it had to work as quickly as possible to hand power back to an Iraqi government. Neither organization got good press. Although they made their own mistakes, ORHA and the CPA were both victims of the Pentagon’s cavalier attitude toward postwar responsibilities. There were no coherent plans for establishing governance, providing security, or restoring public services.”[13]

Observers have noted that the CPA decision to disband the Iraqi army was a key factor in the sectarian conflict that evolved after the US-led invasion. According to journalist Tim Shorrock, “[T]he big plans of the neocons quickly fell apart as an insurgency began in earnest, sparked in large part by Bremer’s decision to disband the Iraqi Army. Some of the generals purged from the military later formed the core of ISIS.”[14] While Bremer was ultimately the man who made the decisions, Kellogg was his chief lieutenant. Kellogg said of his role that “I’m the guy who’s supposed to make the trains run on time,” but a report stated that the hiring of another person to handle political issues, freed “Bremer and Kellogg to focus on security and rebuilding the war-ravaged nation.”[15]

Private sector

After leaving the CPA, Kellogg was a top executive with CACI International, one of the companies that supplied interrogators who abused and tortured Iraqi prisoners at the US military prison at Abu Ghraib.[16] Kellogg joined CACI after the incidents of torture were alleged to have occurred, but CACI was not the only controversial corporation he worked for.

Kellogg was the president of Abraxas, in September of 2012.[17] Abraxas is a highly secretive subsidiary of Cubic that was founded by retired CIA operatives. The hiring came only a month after Abraxas had been the subject of intense media scrutiny for developing a powerful surveillance tool called TrapWire.[18] According to cables released by WikiLeaks and analyzed by The New York Times, the software could analyze “images from surveillance cameras and other data to try to identify terrorists planning attacks.”[19]

According to a report in The Nation, “Before joining Cubic, Kellogg worked for several other important intelligence contractors. He was once a board member of Analex Corp., a contractor for the Pentagon’s Counterintelligence Field Activity office that was accused after the 9/11 attacks of domestic spying (it was later sold to the UK’s QinetiQ). In 2009, Kellogg was appointed CEO of RedXDefense, which describes itself as a ‘complete solution provider for defense against explosive threats.’”[20]

 

SOURCES

[1] John Hendren, “Keith Kellogg is Trump’s new national security advisor. Here’s what he did early on in Iraq,” Los Angeles Times, February 13, 2017, http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-keith-kellogg-is-trump-s-new-national-1487051920-htmlstory.html

[2] Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, “Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow,” Washington Post, March 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-decides-to-remove-national-security-adviser-and-others-may-follow/2018/03/15/fea2ebae-285c-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html?utm_term=.ece2d2ef07cd

[3] Tim Shorrock, “One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation,” November 18, 2016 https://www.thenation.com/article/one-of-trumps-top-military-advisers-played-a-key-role-in-the-disastrous-iraq-occupation/

[4] Jonathan Swan, “The backstory on Pence’s decision to bring on Keith Kellogg,” Axios, April 24, 2018, https://www.axios.com/backstory-pence-decision-keith-kellogg-john-bolton-0e38db3f-8cfe-4eed-84df-5a3afd058b50.html?utm_source=sidebar

[5] Josh Rogin, “John Bolton’s new deputy is a hawk with sharp elbows, just like him,” Washington Post, April 23, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2018/04/23/john-boltons-new-deputy-is-a-hawk-with-sharp-elbows-just-like-him/?utm_term=.ac20481255a2

[6] Jonathan Swan, “The backstory on Pence’s decision to bring on Keith Kellogg,” Axios, April 24, 2018, https://www.axios.com/backstory-pence-decision-keith-kellogg-john-bolton-0e38db3f-8cfe-4eed-84df-5a3afd058b50.html?utm_source=sidebar

[7] Catherine Herridge, “Special counsel investigators start questioning White House staffers,” Fox News, September 29, 2017, http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/09/29/special-counsel-investigators-start-questioning-white-house-staffers.html

[8] Dianne Feinstein, Letter to Keith Kellogg, January 25, 2018, https://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/f/9/f94c5e16-7b5e-4304-ab28-98f3d62c995a/E825586EC3A283D803544CB12A62A15E.2018.01.25-df-to-joseph-keith-kellogg-re-interview-and-document-request-redacted.pdf

[9] Keith Kellogg, “LTG (Ret) Keith Kellogg: Trump as Commander in Chief, Making the Hard Decisions,” Breitbart, August 23, 2017, http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/23/exclusive-ltg-ret-keith-kellogg-trump-as-commander-in-chief-making-the-hard-decisions/

[10] Team Trump, “Gen. Keith Kellogg on Donald Trump “’He’s a change candidate,’” YouTube, August 16, 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=za41EjI-Md8

[11] Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, “Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow,” Washington Post, March 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-decides-to-remove-national-security-adviser-and-others-may-follow/2018/03/15/fea2ebae-285c-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html?utm_term=.ece2d2ef07cd

[12] Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey, Philip Rucker and Carol D. Leonnig, “Trump decides to remove national security adviser, and others may follow,” Washington Post, March 15, 2018, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-decides-to-remove-national-security-adviser-and-others-may-follow/2018/03/15/fea2ebae-285c-11e8-bc72-077aa4dab9ef_story.html?utm_term=.ece2d2ef07cd

[13] Lawrence D. Freedman, “Occupying Iraq: A History of the Coalition Provisional Authority; Liberate and Leave: Fatal Flaws in the Early Strategy for Postwar Iraq,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2010 https://www.foreignaffairs.com/reviews/capsule-review/2010-03-01/occupying-iraq-history-coalition-provisional-authority-liberate

[14] Tim Shorrock, “One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation,” November 18, 2016 https://www.thenation.com/article/one-of-trumps-top-military-advisers-played-a-key-role-in-the-disastrous-iraq-occupation/

[15] John Hendren, “In the effort to rebuild Iraq, Keith Kellogg’s job is to keep things moving,” Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2003, http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-keith-kellogg-iraq-20170213-story.html

[16] Tim Shorrock, “One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation,” November 18, 2016 https://www.thenation.com/article/one-of-trumps-top-military-advisers-played-a-key-role-in-the-disastrous-iraq-occupation/

[17] Press Release, “Cubic Names New President of Abraxas,” Cubic, September 26, 2012, https://www.cubic.com/news-events/news/cubic-names-new-president-abraxas

[18] Noah Shachtman, “Trapwire: It’s Not The Surveillance, It’s The Sleaze,” Wired, August 14, 2012, https://www.wired.com/2012/08/trapwire-strafor-biz/

[19] Tim Shorrock, “One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation,” November 18, 2016 https://www.thenation.com/article/one-of-trumps-top-military-advisers-played-a-key-role-in-the-disastrous-iraq-occupation/

[20] Tim Shorrock, “One of Trump’s Top Military Advisers Played a Key Role in the Disastrous Iraq Occupation,” November 18, 2016 https://www.thenation.com/article/one-of-trumps-top-military-advisers-played-a-key-role-in-the-disastrous-iraq-occupation/

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Kellogg, Keith Résumé

GOVERNMENT

National Security Adviser to Vice President Mike Pence (2018 –   )
Executive Secretary and Chief of Staff of the National Security Council (2017 – 2018)
US Army
(1967-2003), Final rank: Lt. General (3-star)
Coalition Provisional Authority (2003 – 2004)
National Security Adviser, acting (February 13, 2017—February 20, 2017)

EDUCATION

Santa Clara University (1967)
University of Kansas, MA, Russian Studies (1977)
United States Army War College, Graduate Studies (1987-88)

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