As President-elect Barack Obama convened the first meeting of his national security advisers on Monday, there was just one person at the table that the new president did not choose to have there: Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Admiral Mullen, who was selected by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for a two-year term, has been on the job for a year. Come January, he will face perhaps the biggest challenge of his career — pivoting from one commander-in-chief to another, in the middle of two wars. Friends describe him as an even-tempered, intellectually curious and politically astute presence who sees the world beyond the immediate battles of the Pentagon and White House — all skills they say will serve him well in the new administration.
“He’s not a jumper or a screamer, he looks at things to make them better for the long term,” said Adm. Dennis C. Blair, a retired Pacific Fleet commander who is expected to be named by Mr. Obama as director of national intelligence. “He’s an incredible networker, too.”
By Elisabeth Mumiller
The New York Times
In the last year, Admiral Mullen has sought advice from the retired generals who revolted against former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, reached out to the former Army chief who was vilified for saying more troops were needed in Iraq and invited to dinner prominent Democrats like Gregory B. Craig, Mr. Obama’s choice for White House counsel. His efforts may have been an attempt to soothe the military after the cataclysmic Mr. Rumsfeld, or an anticipation of a change of administration — or both.