In line with President Joe Biden’s decision to end the US military presence in Afghanistan, Washington for the most part has pulled out its forces from Afghanistan. While the exact final shape of the US presence in the country is unclear, what is clear is that Washington is seeking to turn the page on this chapter in the country’s national security history. Yet, it is not certain that the threats from terrorism are over or resolved with the US exit from Afghanistan. According to the United Nation’s ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee Monitoring team, Al Qaida retains an active presence in Afghanistan with affiliates around the world. At the same time, it is notable that it has been some time since a large-scale terrorist plot has been detected targeting the US from Afghanistan.
The critical question is what is the threat that might still exist, and how has the US’ twenty-year Afghan engagement changed the nature of the broader threat from jihadist groups? What has been learned over the past two decades of conflict, and what can we expect in the future? Particularly, what will be the future of the global counter-terrorism campaign against jihadist groups as the US tries to close the chapter of the Global War on Terror? And what will future American counter-terrorism operations look like?
To address these complicated questions, ICPVTR is honoured to host Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, the former National Security Adviser under President Donald Trump. Lt Gen McMaster will be discussing these current national security questions within the context of his recently published Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World which covers much of his time serving at the most senior levels of the US government.
H. R. McMaster was the 26th assistant to the US President for National Security Affairs. He served as a commissioned officer in the US Army for thirty-four years before retiring as a Lieutenant General in June 2018. He is currently the Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is also the Bernard and Susan Liautaud Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute and lecturer at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
From 2014 to 2017, McMaster designed the future army as the director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and the deputy commanding general of the US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). As commanding general of the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Benning, he oversaw training and education for the Army’s infantry, armour, and cavalry forces. He led soldiers and organisations in wartime including the command of a multi-national task force in Kabul, Afghanistan; the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Iraq; and Eagle Troop, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in Operation Desert Storm. McMaster also served overseas as advisor to the most senior US commanders in the Middle East, Iraq, and Afghanistan.
McMaster was an assistant professor of history at the United States Military Academy from 1994 to 1996 where he taught undergraduate courses in military history and the history of the Korean and Vietnam Wars. He also taught a graduate course on the history of military leadership for officers enrolled in the Columbia University MBA programme.
He is author of the award-winning book, Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Lies that Led to Vietnam and Battlegrounds: The Fight to Defend the Free World. He has published scores of essays, articles, and book reviews on leadership, history, and the future of warfare in many publications including Foreign Affairs, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. He was a contributing editor for Survival: Global Politics and Strategy from 2010 to 2017. He is host of the podcast Battlegrounds: International Perspectives on Crucial Challenges to Security and Prosperity.