New National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster is an "unorthodox thinker" who has "never marched to the beat of the Army drum," Sen. Tom Cotton, who recommended the military leader to the post, said Tuesday morning.
"I want to commend the president for picking Gen. McMaster," said Cotton, a former protégé of McMaster's, on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "It reflects great credit on him, as does the entire national security cabinet. He's been a legendary officer in the Army for years."
The New York Times reports that after Michael Flynn stepped down from the adviser post, Cotton reached out to White House chief of staff, Vice President Mike Pence, and White House chief strategist Steve Bannon about McMaster, providing his former mentor's resume and personal telephone number.
Chris Brose, staff director of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also pushed for McMaster.
Cotton himself nearly resigned from the Army in 2007 in protest after the military passed over McMaster for the rank of general following his role in the second Iraq War, with his leadership of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment in gaining control of Tal Afar
"In 2006 and 2007, he was passed over for a promotion from colonel to one star," Cotton said Tuesday. "I and others at the time were discouraged by that. I submitted resignation papers in part because of how they treated him.
"I withdrew those, but Bob Gates recognized what a leader he was and recalled Gen. [David] Petraeus and gave him his first star."
Cotton, however, said it's still very early in the process of filling Trump's foreign policy team, and there are still many positions to fill.
"The pace has been very slow," said Cotton. "Whether it's State or Defense or Homeland Security, we do need to move on to filling in the subcabinet. The president created one of the best national security cabinets in modern times. I look forward to seeing the subcabinet nominations and moving more quickly than we have been able to."
Trump does respect generals, having named several to his cabinet, said Cotton, and the officers he's named to his cabinet, such as McMaster, James Mattis and John Kelly were colonels when the Iraq War started.
"The lives we lost in the war were not just names, they were the young soldiers with whom they trained in the same gym and ate in the same dining hall," said Cotton. "They knew these men. They know the highest priority is the preservation of peace and the avoidance of war.
"I think Donald Trump appreciates that and wants to make America tough and strong and respected in the world again, not so we can win wars, but to avoid them."
Further, he said, any military officer who has seen war will be reluctant to commit troops "cavalierly and without national security interest at stake," said Cotton, but will still take the country into respect.
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