Christopher Miller appointed Acting Secretary of Defense

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Mr. Miller seemed an unlikely emissary for such a delicate diplomatic foray. He has spent most of his 31-year military career in obscure special operations missions. He commanded a Special Forces Rapid Response Team which flew to Afghanistan in December 2001 to assist a team accidentally struck by a US bomb. They stayed to bolster security around Hamid Karzai, who had just been appointed interim president of Afghanistan. During the Iraq War, Mr. Miller tracked down valuable insurgent leaders.

In 2018, he became a senior counterterrorism official at the National Security Council, the arm of the White House that helps manage interagency issues involving the military, intelligence, and foreign policy.

Mr. Miller has frequently worked with Mr. Patel, a former aide to Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and a staunch supporter of Mr. Trump.

In contrast, Miller is not known as a partisan ideologue, according to interviews with officials who worked with him. His counterterrorism and hostage-focused portfolio has enabled him to largely avoid the national security concerns that drew political fury in the Trump era, like Russia. His oversight at the National Security Council included meetings that led to the US commando raid on northwest Syria last year to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and he won the confidence of officials like Mr. O’Brien. and M. Patel.

This year, Miller briefly transitioned to a counterterrorism role at the Pentagon before the Senate in August confirmed him to head the National Counterterrorism Center, an agency created after the September 11, 2001 attacks, which was supposed to serve as a hub. exchange. for information on terrorist threats and coordinate intelligence sharing between organizations such as the CIA, FBI and the National Security Agency.

The center is not supposed to play an operational role. But as Miller studied intelligence reports on senior Shabab leaders and Somalia, he told colleagues that it may be possible to change the equation that has kept the United States locked in a irregular warfare with Shabab – including periodic drone strikes targeting suspected militants and Shabab’s deadly assault on a US air base in Manda Bay, Kenya, in January.

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