The Trump administration has offered the job of White House national security adviser (NSA), vacated by former US intelligence official Michael Flynn, to Vice Admiral Robert Harward, said two US officials familiar with the matter.
Flynn resigned on Monday after revelations that he had discussed US sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States before President Donald Trump took office.
Losing his national security adviser so soon after taking office is an embarrassment for the new Republican president, who has made national security a top priority.
Harward, a Rhode Island native who went to school in Tehran before the Shah was toppled in 1979, did a tour on the National Security Council under former Republican President George W. Bush, working on counterterrorism. He also has combat experience on SEAL teams and served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Harward now works as an executive for defence contractor Lockheed Martin, with responsibility for its business in the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East.
During his teenage years, Harward lived in an Iranian neighbourhood, attended school with Iranian-American students and played sports against Iranian teams. Those experiences gave him an unusual familiarity with Iran’s culture and people in the years before the 1979 Islamic revolution that ousted the pro-American Shah.