Gen. Eaton Joins the National Security Network

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Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 11:40 am

One of the leaders of the so-called “generals’ revolt” against then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in 2006, ret. Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton, is about to join the progressive National Security Network, NSN sources confirm.

Eaton, a former infantry officer, had a 30-year Army career that including deployments to Somalia, Bosnia and Iraq. After retiring from the Army in 2006, he criticized Rumsfeld that March in a widely read op-ed for failing to understand counterinsurgency and, indeed, the nature of the Iraq war more broadly. Later he signed on with Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign before supporting Barack Obama in the general election.

At NSN, Eaton’s official title will be a senior adviser, but he’ll be the public face of an organization set up after the Democratic defeats of 2004 to bridge the policy and messaging divides between the progressive and national-security communities. NSN employees describe him as a “bonding agent” between progressive politicians and the military: while NSN has had no shortage of national-security experts on its roster, Eaton is the first retired flag officer to sign up. With progressives divided over what to make of the Afghanistan war, Eaton’s new role should be one to watch, as NSN has taken a cautious position in favor of the administration’s strategy. He starts on Monday.

NSN’s original leadership has been absorbed into the Obama administration. Founder Rand Beers, the former White House counterterrorism chief, is now an undersecretary at the Department of Homeland Security, where original communications director Moira Whelan serves as deputy in the Office of Gulf Coast Rebuilding. Ilan Goldenberg now has a large part of the Iran and Israel portfolios in the Department of Defense’s policy directorate.

(Full disclosure: I’ll be taking part in a National Security Network-sponsored panel discussion on Afghanistan at this year’s Netroots Nation conference in Pittsburgh next month.)

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