WASHINGTON — In another White House shake up, President Barack Obama on Friday announced that his national security adviser, Gen. James Jones, was stepping down after helping to shape foreign policy for nearly two years. Tom Donilon, Jones' deputy, is taking over as the top security adviser.
Obama hailed Jones, a career military man before his White House post, as a "dedicated public servant and a friend to me." The president plans to turn over the job to Donilon, a workhorse figure in the White House who brings to the job a long background of Democratic politics and diplomacy.
The president said that Jones, from the start, had planned to leave within two years. The move comes just one week after Obama lost his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who quit to run for Chicago mayor. Other significant staff changes are likely as Obama's term nears its midterm mark.
Jones has served as Obama has sought to reshape American foreign policy on many fronts, from ending the combat mission in Iraq to expanding the war in Afghanistan to attempting to improve relations across Europe and Asia. Jones had quiet clout but found himself in a world of turf battles and tensions, given the competing demands, ideas and personalities in the government and the challenge of trying to coordinate them with the National Security Council.
"Through these challenges, Jim has always been a steady voice in Situation Room sessions, daily briefings, and with meetings with foreign leaders, also representing our country abroad with allies and partners in every region of the world," Obama said in a Rose Garden ceremony.
Donilon's promotion has a significant spillover effect on the rest of the White House. He had emerged as a top candidate to replace Emanuel as the permanent chief of staff. Now that job appears even more likely to go to Pete Rouse, the newly installed interim chief of staff and a longtime adviser to Obama.
Obama had recruited Jones for a job he had not been seeking. Before the cameras Friday, Jones told Obama that he had accepted the job in large part because "I was persuaded that you were willing to take on the hard issues of our time at a very, very difficult moment in our nation's history."
As for his new national security adviser, Obama said Donilon has already been immersed in every major national security issue and earned his trust.