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Mark Lippert

16 - Mark Lippert
2012 Rank: 24

Defense Secretary's Chief of Staff
When you’re one of Obama’s inner circle — Lippert was then-Sen. Obama’s foreign policy adviser from 2005 to 2008 — you’ve got pull. Lippert, a former Navy intelligence officer who earned a Bronze Star for his service in Iraq with Navy SEALs, is officially called “The Special Assistant” and involved in every aspect of Pentagon operations and decision making. His operational experience gives him street cred with military leadership, making him the ultimate Washington gatekeeper who has a direct line to the White House. That can cut both ways: He conveys information to 1600 Pennsylvania and gets orders directly from the Boss. Before taking his current job, Lippert served briefly as the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs, a key position as DoD increases its focus on the Asia-Pacific, and spent nine months as the chief of staff for the National Security Council in 2009. In an unusual career move, he left the White House for two years to go on active duty as an intel officer with SEAL Team 6, serving in Afghanistan and Africa.

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