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Obama's national security adviser stepping down

WASHINGTON - Gen. James Jones, the gruff-talking military man President Barack Obama drafted as his national security adviser, announced Friday he was quitting after a tenure marked by ambitious foreign policy changes and undercurrents of corrosive turf battles.

Jones will be replaced by his chief deputy, Tom Donilon, a former Democratic political operative and lobbyist who in many ways is already the day-to-day leader of the White House national security operation. The move deepens a season of White House turnover near the midpoint of Obama's term, including White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's departure last week.

Obama described the transition from Jones to Donilon as expected and seamless, thanking both men in a sunny Rose Garden ceremony.

The president put an emphasis on the patriotism of Jones, a Marine who served in Vietnam and retired as a four-star general after a career of more than 40 years. The two barely knew each other when Jones took the post.

As Obama's chief national security aide, Jones served during a time when Obama has sought to reshape American foreign policy on many fronts, from ending the combat mission in Iraq to expanding the war in Afghanistan to attempting to improve relations across Europe and Asia.

Jones had quiet clout but found himself in a world of squabbles given the competing demands, ideas and personalities in the government and the challenge of trying to coordinate them through the National Security Council.

Jones, 66, is expected to serve in the job for about two more weeks. Jones said, "I believe that where we are today in the global playing field and how the United States is held in the esteem of the rest of the world is an accomplishment that I frankly find astonishing in such a short period of time."

To Obama, he said: "Thank you for letting me be a part of it."

As national security adviser, Donilon, 55, takes on a deeper role on many of the policy challenges he has helped shape at the White House: nuclear threats in Iran and North Korea, threat of terrorism and the wars in the Afghanistan-Pakistan theater.

Donilon worked as a political aide for Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale, helped manage Democratic National Conventions, and served in the State Department during Bill Clinton's presidency. A lawyer, Donilon has executive vice president at Fannie Mae. He also has represented Citigroup, Goldman Sachs & Co., Verizon Communications, Obama fundraiser and hotel heiress Penny Pritzker and former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman.

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