Obama's NSA resigns

NSA Marine General James L Jones Washington: In a further shake-up of his administration mid-way through his first term US president Barack Obama announced the resignation of his national security advisor Marine General (retd) James Jones. Gen Jones will be replaced by his deputy Tom Donilon.

The resignation comes even as president Obama's economic team has left en masse with the sole exception of Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner. The previous days have also marked the exit of the president's high profile chief of staff Emanuel Rahm.

Though there is no word of it, another high-profile exit may be that of defence secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from the Bush administration, who had joined the administration with the understanding that he too would serve mid-way through the first term of the new administration.

Gen Jones's exit comes just a month ahead of a major tour of Asia by Obama. It also comes ahead of a major review of the administration's strategy in the Afghan War.

Outgoing NSA Gen Jones was one of the major architects of the previous review which led to the confirmation of a strategy of a 'surge' in Afghanistan, leading to an initial acceleration in the deployment of troops marked by a gradual phase-out. The phase-out stage is tentatively scheduled for July 2011.

This has been a cause for major controversy around the world with nations committed to fighting and defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan protesting the declaration of a strategy that announces a withdrawal in advance providing a morale-booster to the enemy, in this case the Taliban. The withdrawal strategy also found intense opposition within the administration, primarily within the military and the defence department.