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The colonels shaping Trump's Middle East policy

Who’s who in the Trump NSC: The retired military intelligence officers who helped David Petraeus with the surge in Iraq are now shaping policies for a president who says the United States should have never invaded Iraq.
U.S. President Donald Trump salutes as he arrives aboard Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S. January 26, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSXJL3
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WASHINGTON — Underneath the drama and chaos of the Donald Trump White House — the rival power centers, combative press conferences mercilessly mocked on Saturday Night Live, leaked transcripts of Trump's phone calls to allied leaders, and the often inflammatory tweeter-in-chief, fuming over the latest perceived insult while watching "Morning Joe" — a cadre of deeply serious, tested military intellectuals at the National Security Council is shaping Trump's Middle East policies.

Unclear, as yet, is if they have a boss who will be receptive to their efforts and searing battlefield experiences. Those include helping devise the strategy to quell the post-US invasion Iraq insurgency, and later seeing those gains lost following the US withdrawal from Iraq in 2011 and subsequent rise of the Islamic State (IS). For all their experience, there is a tendency, as each new US administration comes in with its critique of its predecessor, to refight the last war, even as the situation on the ground has evolved.

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