Kirby to lead Biden’s national security communications team

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Friday named Pentagon press secretary John Kirby to be the new National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications.

Kirby “will coordinate interagency efforts to explain United States policy and will serve as a senior administration voice on related matters,” the White House said in a statement.

Biden said, “John understands the complexities of U.S. foreign and defense policy, and he will ably represent the Administration on important national security issues.”

While accepting the White House job, Kirby thanked Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin “for his tremendous support and leadership these last 18 months.” Kirby said Austin “has been more than just my boss; he’s been a mentor and a confidante, and he has helped make me a better communicator.”

Austin said Kirby “will be a terrific addition to a strong team over there, and his long experience in defense and foreign policy perfectly suits him for work with the National Security Council staff.”

Kirby, who also served as the top spokesman at the Pentagon and the State Department during the Obama administration, is moving to the White House as it navigates a range of foreign policy challenges, from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to North Korea’s nuclear program. Kirby has been a fixture on cable news, particularly during the Ukraine crisis, and is valued in the administration for seeming to handle even the thorniest foreign policy questions with ease.

The NSC under Biden has not previously had someone in a dedicated, high-level strategic communications role.

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