General Barry McCaffrey on National Security ‘Surprises’ During Hermitage Visit


-For retired U.S. Army Four-Star General Barry R. McCaffrey, there are lessons Andrew Jackson’s legacy offers to the United States today.

“A fascinating historical figure,” McCaffrey said of the 7th US President as he visited Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage on Friday and asked a myriad of questions to Andrew Jackson Foundation President and CEO Howard J. Kittell .

McCaffrey traveled from Seattle to Middle Tennessee to be the keynote speaker at Friday’s Hermitage Gala – the biggest fundraiser for Andrew Jackson’s Hermitage.

“Jackson’s rank as a major general was something he was extremely proud of, so having General McCaffrey as a keynote speaker will certainly enrich our understanding of what it means to be an American,” Kittell said. “Being able to hear his insight and wise counsel will hopefully leave a lasting impression on how we, as a country, can come together again.”

Retired U.S. Army General Barry R. McCaffrey, left at Andrew Jackson's Hermitage on October 29, 2021, with Howard J. Kittell, right, Chairman and CEO of the Andrew Jackson Foundation,

The general served 32 years in active service, including receiving three Purple Heart medals as well as numerous other honors. McCaffrey is well known for his command of the “left hook” attack during the desert storm that struck Iraq and spent five years in the administration of President Bill Clinton as director of the national drug policy.

McCaffrey is now National Security and Terrorism Analyst for NBC News. He spoke to Jackson’s Tennessean about pressing threats to national security and the division of the nation.

McCaffrey criticized former President Donald Trump, who during his four years in office had praised Jackson.

“If you had to line up presidents to study, Andrew Jackson would be in the top 10 for a multitude of reasons. He was basically the founder of the Democratic Party… An incredible military leader. A dangerous person to mess with. (He had) a lot of firsts.

The only president who was a prisoner of war. The first president with an assassination attempt on him. He wrote off the national debt. His loyalty to his wife was remarkable. It is also linked to the issue of slavery. It is a good subject to study when we think about the issues facing the federal government today.

McCaffrey on his theme for Friday’s address at the Hermitage Gala

“What are the challenges for American security going forward and what are we doing about them? There will be surprises in what I am going to say… There is a good point to be made that we have never been so secure in the history of the country. People find this surprising. “

Retired U.S. Army General Barry R. McCaffrey, left, inside Andrew Jackson's Hermitage mansion on October 29, 2021 with Howard J. Kittell, right, serving as president and chief of the management of the Andrew Jackson Foundation.

McCaffrey on the most pressing security challenges for the United States:

“Weapons of mass destruction. Not just nuclear, biological and chemical, but that also includes cyber warfare.”

McCaffrey Describes Growing Cyber ​​Threat And Expectations Of A Proliferation Of Attacks On Cloud And Cloud Infrastructure

Balancing the United States’ relationship with China as a “growing adversary” and as a “major economic partner at the same time” is another security challenge, McCaffrey said.

Public health, customs and border protection and better equipping local and state law enforcement, first responders and the National Guard to “recognize and respond to threats to national security” are areas that, according to McCaffrey, are vital areas for national security in the future.

On dividing America

“The challenge has been a loss of confidence in the institutions. The most reliable institution is the US military. The least trustworthy is Congress. Right below them is the media. The dominant branch of government is Congress. And you have to have a free and aggressive press. We must regain knowledge and confidence in our institutions. There is a lot of anger in the country.

McCaffrey on concerns over politicization of the military

“I actually don’t,” McCaffrey said, citing his belief that examples of partisan behavior within the military are isolated and do not involve high numbers.

“I noticed that I was being pushed back. There is no great coup d’etat on the right or on the left. I don’t think that the armed forces are in any way in danger of being used in an undemocratic or illegal manner… I don’t want to think that senior military leaders have political biases. I think that’s where they are.

Did McCaffrey agree with the efforts of General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to keep the military out of politics during the Trump administration

“No question. It was a case where he said the military should have no role in the power transition or the selection of the president of the United States. He is one of the smartest people there is. “We had them in uniform. He’s an experienced combat leader. Very decisive in a very precarious situation.”

About the Hermitage Gala

The inaugural Andrew Jackson Hermitage Fundraising Gala is hosted by the Andrew Jackson Foundation at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Tickets start at $ 375 for an individual guest and are now available online at

Contact Andy Humbles at [email protected] or 615-726-5939 and on Twitter @ AndyHumbles.

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