Old Petraeus Team’s Leading Lights Join Trump’s NSC in Key Posts

The Pentagon and National Security Council are racing forward on President Donald Trump’s plan to create safe zones in Syria, in conjunction with Moscow, according to an exclusive DEBKA Weekly report from its military and intelligence sources. The plan may be ready for approval as soon as the end of next week.
The president made it clear to Defense Secretary Gen. James Mattis and National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn that he wants the safe zones to start operating at once, even if this requires the deployment of additional US ground and air force units to Syria.
For Trump, it is important to establish facts on the ground as a priority, before broaching final decisions on future joint US-Russian-Turkish-Jordanian military operations against ISIS.
He summarily dismisses the criticism leveled against his safe zone plan by certain Republican circles and Middle East experts, who call it a recipe for major military and political disaster that will condemn America to dire consequences in the long term.
Administration officials told DEBKA Weekly that Trump regards his cooperation pact with Vladimir Putin for Syria is an accomplished fact to which he is unshakably committed.
The president this week picked a group of three seasoned Middle East military and diplomatic hands with distinguished records in the field and academe. The three former colonels, who served under Gen. David Petraeus, former head of the US Central Command, will support the efforts of the administration’s two generals for moving Trump’s plans towards fruition. Two of them were in the team that designed the successful troop surge which turned the tide of the Iraqi war against Al Qaeda.
Their new tasks in the National Security Council are commensurate with their expertise and experience.
Col. Derek J. Harvey, the new Senior Director for Middle East policies, retired from US army service in 2006 after 26 years as an intelligence officer and Middle East Foreign Area Officer. Before that, Col. Harvey was Senior Analyst for Iraq at the Joint Staff Directorate for Intelligence from 2004 to 2005.
He came from a stint as Chief, Commander’s Assessments and Initiatives Group/Senior Intelligence Analyst for MNF-Iraq.
Harvey participated in the Joint Strategic Assessment Team established by Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Petraeus to assess the situation in Iraq and develop their combined campaign plan.
Col. Joel Rayburn will be one of Col. Harvey’s deputies for the tasks of developing US policy towards Iraq, Syria, Iran and other Middle East hot spots.
He has published articles about the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and its consequences, and a book titled “Iraq after America: Strongmen, Sectarians, Resistance,” which told the story from the Iraqi perspective.
Chapter 5 is frequently cited in support of President Trump’s claim that the war to topple Saddam Hussein promoted Salafi extremism and laid the groundwork for the rise of the Islamic State and related insurgency.
Col. Michael S. Bell takes charge of the NSC Saudi Desk. His record in command of field units in several places includes serving as Special Assistant to the Commanding General, US Army Europe/Peace Stabilization Force; Futures Chief, III Corps G-3; and strategist in the Directorate of Strategic Plans and Police (J5), the Joint Staff.
At Joint Staff (J5), Col. Bell’s main projects included work on the National Military Strategy and National Defense Strategy. He was lead writer for the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism and staff lead for the Joint Strategic Planning System.
The new director of the Saudi Desk was also a member of the Kuwait Strategic Review team, lead writer for Kuwait’s National Security and Defense Strategy and lead writer for the National Military Strategy of the Kuwait Armed Forces.
The Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, the military link with academic studies, published Bell’s monograph, The Exigencies of Global, Integrated Warfare: The Evolving Role of the CJCS and his Dedicated Staff.

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