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Ex-NATO Chief praises Trump's national security team 'now that Flynn has been dismissed'

Paul Szoldra
james stavridis

(James Stavridis at a NATO meeting.Win McNamee/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, Calif. — The Former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO on Tuesday praised the national security team being shaped under the Trump administration as "first class" now that retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is out of the picture.

"The good news," said Adm. James Stavridis (Ret.) to attendees of the AFCEA West 2017 conference in a keynote address delivered via teleconference.

"It's an absolutely first class national security team, now that Flynn has been dismissed."

Michael Flynn was a controversial pick to lead the National Security Council, since the former head of DIA peddled conspiracy theories and ultimately resigned amid accusations he misled Vice President Mike Pence about a phone call with Russia's ambassador to the US.

Trump recently named Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster to replace him.

Stavridis, who was one of McMaster's bosses for a time, praised the Army officer as "brilliant" and "creative." 

"He's the complete package," he said. Stavridis also mentioned McMaster's book, "Dereliction of Duty" — a searing case study of the weakness of military leaders in opposing the Vietnam War — as the seminal book on the importance of "speaking truth to power."

"I think he's going to have a chance to put that into practice," Stavridis said.

Besides offering positive marks for McMaster, Stavridis heaped praise on others shaping national security policy, such as Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Though, he cautioned, the Trump administration's failure to appoint people to second and third-tier levels of national security positions has him concerned.

Though Trump has complained that Democrats were obstructing his nominees for key positions, The Washington Post's tracker shows the president has not put forth nominations for 515 of the 549 roles that require Senate confirmation. 

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