At a Glance
- Career History:
Principal Director for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia, Department of Defense (2009-2010); Chief of Staff, President-elect
's Defense Review Team (November 2008); National Security Adviser, 2008
- Hometown: Wickford, R.I.
- Alma Mater: University of Oxford (Rhodes Scholar), M.A., 2003; West Point, 2000
Dr. Meena Seshamani
- Religion: Roman Catholic
- DC Office: 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, (202) 712-5282
- Web site
Path to Power
The son of an Irish-Catholic nurse and gas-company worker, Mullaney rose from his small town, working-class roots to become a Rhodes Scholar and senior Pentagon adviser.
From the summer before his senior year at Bishop Hendricken High School in Rhode Island, he knew he wanted to attend West Point. Five years later, he graduated second in his class from the U.S. Military Academy.
Though Mullaney worked on Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and the Obama-Biden transition, he has few publicly recorded political views. There are a few hints, however, in his best-selling 2009 memoir, "The Unforgiving Minute."
Winning Hearts and Minds
Though Mullaney's book is mostly apolitical, there are a few sections that reveal views on how the war in Afghanistan should be fought. At one point, Mullaney tells his students, "the best thing we could have done for Afghanistan was to get out of our Humvees and drink more green chai. We should have focused less on finding the enemy and more on finding our friends."
During Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, Mullaney campaigned largely on his military experience. In a campaign message to other veterans and military families, he described his support of Obama mostly in personal terms, calling him "a leader with tremendous strength of character; a independent, pragmatic, and thoughtful intelligence; and steady judgment."
Until April 2010, Mullaney worked in Defense Secretary Robert Gates' office. At USAID, he worked closely with Rajiv Shah, and other leaders in Afpak, including Richard Holbrooke and Frank Ruggiero.
In January 2008, Mullaney donated $2,300 to Obama's presidential campaign, and gave another $250 in September 2008.