Skip to comments.Sebastian Gorka, former Trump aide, recalled as stellar teacher at SOCom
Posted on 10/03/2017 5:10:04 PM PDT by markomalley
In a short stint as advisor to President Donald Trump, Sebastian Gorka drew a long list of complaints over his level of experience, the way he talks about Islam, and his relationship with White House chief of staff John F. Kelly.
He has remained at the center of controversy since then, appearing on the Sean Hannity Show to blast NFL players who protest the national anthem and declaring the Republican primary victory by divisive Senate candidate Roy Moore of Alabama to be "the first battle in a war that's going to reform politics."
Gorka is now chief strategist with the political group MAGA Coalition, named for the Donald Trump pledge to "Make America Great Again."
But people who worked with Gorka at MacDill Air Force base in the decade before he joined the White House in January remember the bearded, British-born analyst differently as a lauded guest instructor at the Joint Special Operations University run by U.S. Special Operations Command.
"He was consistently praised by his students and the JSOU faculty for the superior quality of his presentations," said Ken McGraw, a SOCom spokesman.
In 2012, the university's President Brian Maher awarded Gorka the Civilian Joint Service Commendation Medal.
This should come as no surprise to anyone, says Gorka, 46, who brushes off the steady criticism he was subjected to in Washington.
"I couldn't care less about what the chattering classes in the FakeNews Media, or the policy hacks who failed America for the last 16 years in terms of national security think," Gorka said in an email to the Tampa Bay Times.
"All I care about is how I can support the warfighter, especially the (special operations) tip of the spear. They know exactly who I am and that's all I need and care about."
In addition to the scores of lectures he has delivered at Joint Special Operations University, Gorka advises and briefs senior leaders at U.S. Army Special Operations Command and NATO and is a guest lecturer at the FBI and the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School at Fort Bragg, N.C., according to his official biography.
He became a guest lecturer at MacDill with the Joint Special Operations University in 2006 and eight years later landed a position there as part-time contractor.
Gorka was lead instructor for courses on combatting terrorism from July 2008 through January 2017, SOCom's McGraw said.
His work received praise from retired Army Lt. Gen. Dell Dailey, one of the university's distinguished senior fellows.
Dailey ran the Center for Special Operations in the SOCom headquarters at MacDill and served as principal counterterrorism advisor to Secretaries of State Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton.
He called Gorka "a darned good instructor in this unfortunate field of terrorism.
"He was very aggressive, very interactive with the crowd and usually had three to five people stand up around him after the presentations."
Gorka was "without a doubt the most popular speaker of anyone we put on the platform," said former university course director James Ashing, who oversaw Gorka's work there from 2012 to 2016.
The praise stands in stark contrast to Gorka's image in Washington, where news sources complained he was poorly versed on topics he covered and suggested he was fired from his White House position.
Gorka told Fox News that the use of the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism" in President Trump's inaugural address marked a positive turning point.
The Washington Post reported that Gorka's "academic credentials, particularly on the subject of Islam, are thin ... Gorka does not speak Arabic and has never lived in a Muslim-majority country. His knowledge of Islam comes largely from reading English translations of Islamic texts and interacting with foreign officers."
Gorka says the complaints are groundless.
"I never claimed to be an Islamic scholar," he told the Times. "My field is counterterrorism and strategy, and I think two civilian commendations" from the military and designation as a Justice Department "expert on the Boston Bombing trial are credentials enough."
As for his relationship with Kelly, Gorka said there were "zero" problems.
He said he was not fired but resigned, upset by Trump's Afghanistan speech in August because it failed to define "strategic victory conditions."
His reputation for intolerance on Islam is undeserved, he said, and not supported in his writings.
Terms like Muslim or Islamic terrorism "do a great disservice to law-abiding Muslims everywhere," he wrote in a 2007 thesis for Corvinus Univesity in Budapest, Hungary.
"We are not at war with Islam," he told the Times. "Our greatest allies against groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, are our Muslim partners such as Jordan and Egypt, whose officers have taught me the most about Islam and the common threat we face: totalitarian Jihadism."
Dailey, the retired Army general, said Gorka was a victim of "internal power plays inside the U.S. government.
"I'm sorry he departed. His contributions and abilities will be lost."
I like the man. He speaks very well.
I have just loved Dr. Gorka. Anyone can see that he is a great intellect. He is the kind of man you would like to sit next to and to just have him tell you whatever he wants to. His wisdom is evident and I know he is the kind of person who is envied by the power seekers. Men as bright as he is are few and far between.
I’ve always been very impressed by Dr. Gorka as well.
Good for him. Finally a spark of sense from the military.