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Mark Lippert, Dedicated Reservist

Mark Lippert

When I was at the White House reporting a story this summer, I ran into Obama's longtime foreign policy advisor Mark Lippert, a Naval reservist who is leaving his post as chief of staff at the National Security Council to return to active duty. (Lippert also did a tour of duty in Iraq from 2007 to 2008.) Lippert looked a little tired. He had just returned from Obama's whirlwind tour of Russia, Africa, and Europe. I asked whether he'd recovered from the trip yet. Not really, Lippert said. He explained that he'd gotten home well after midnight the previous Saturday. But he was up again a few hours later--at about 6 a.m., if I recall correctly--to head up to Annapolis for his weekend reservist duty. And then, of course, he was back at the White House bright and early Monday morning. Which is amazing to me, given that I, for one, might not have survived the foreign trip itself....

Lippert--who has a buzz-cut and the matter-of-fact demeanor common to national security pros--played an all-purpose role at the NSC, doing everything from counseling the president to preparing foreign trips to managing the NSC's office space in the Old Executive Office Building next door to the White House. Denis McDonough, who serves as both a top counselor to Obama and maps communications strategy for the NSC, will fill in for Lippert while he's gone. Speechwriter Ben Rhodes will handle Denis's responsibilities.

[I've updated this post to correct my terminology: Lippert is returning to active duty, not conducting a new "tour" in the reserves.]