When announcing her new adviser on the security aspects of the new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Condoleezza Rice said: "I believe we need an experienced leader who can address the regional security challenges comprehensively."
Jones says he is looking forward to his
new Middle East role [AFP]
By appointing decorated Vietnam war veteran and former Nato commander General James Jones the US secretary of state certainly recruited experience.
During a 40-year military career Jones led the US marines from 1999 to 2003, and was Nato supreme allied commander Europe and commander of the US European Command until 2006.
He says he is looking forward to his new role.
In his many military assignments, Jones was never based in the Middle East, but Israel was within his command area as head of US European command.
Security issues are central to the peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians.
In the new set of negotiations, for example, Israel probably will insist on continued control of the airspace above a Palestinian state, that such a state does not have an army and that Israel maintain a military presence in strategically sensitive areas of the West Bank.
The Palestinians will not easily accept those demands.
After he retired early this year, Jones became president and chief executive officer in March of the US chamber of commerce institute for energy.
Shortly afterwards he accepted a request to lead a congressionally mandated commission to study the development of Iraqi security forces.
The panel's report, widely deemed to be evenhanded, presented a scathing assessment of Iraq's interior ministry and recommended scrapping its national police force, which it described as dysfunctional and infiltrated by sectarian militias.
The panel also recommended that the US lighten its footprint in Iraq to counter the image that it is an "occupying force".
Jones is highly regarded not only by many in the military establishment but also by members of congress.
Robert Tyrer, who has known Jones since 1979 and worked with him when Jones was the senior military assistant from 1997-1999 to William Cohen, then the defence secretary, said Jones has an unusual "360 degree" vision of international security, to include diplomatic as well as military aspects.
Jones had an unusual military career, with numerous command assignments abroad, a stint as Marine Corps liaison to the senate, and capped initially with his selection as the 32nd commandant of the Marine Corps in 1999, making him a member of the joint chiefs of staff.
The post of service chief usually is a general's final assignment before retirement, but in 2003, just before the Iraq war began, Jones was sent to Europe as supreme allied commander and commander of the US European Command.
Born in Missouri, Jones grew up in France where his father worked for an agricultural machinery manufacturer.
He returned to the US and attended Georgetown university's school of foreign service.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the marines in 1967 and was sent to fight in Vietnam that year where he was later awarded the Silver Star medal.