James (Jim) Logan Jones, Jr. was born in Kansas City, Missouri. His father, James Sr., is a decorated Marine from World War II who was an officer in the Observer Group and the commanding officer of its successor, the Amphibious Reconnaissance Battalion. Jim Jones spent his formative years in France attending the American School of Paris. Jim Jones returned to the United States to study at the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service. He played forward on the Georgetown Hoyas men’s basketball team. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in 1966.
In January 1967, Jones was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, following in his father’s footsteps. He completed The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, in October 1967. Jones was ordered to the Republic of Vietnam and served as a platoon and company commander with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines. When he returned from Vietnam in December 1968, he served as a company commander at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California for six months. From there he was ordered to Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C. as a company commander. While at this post he was promoted to captain.
Captain Jones served in Japan as commander of Company H from November 1974 to December 1975. His next assignment was back in Washington, D.C., serving in the Officer Assignments Section at Headquarters Marine Corps. He was promoted to major in July 1977. He was assigned as the Marine Corps liaison officer to the U.S. Senate, serving there until 1984. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel during this post.
Major Jones was chosen to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C. and graduated in June 1985. He was assigned back to Camp Pendleton, California and assigned to command the 3rd battalion, 9th Marines, 1st Marine Division for two years. In August 1987 he returned to Headquarters Marine Corps to serve as senior aide to the commandant of the Marine Corps. He was promoted to colonel in 1988.
During the years 1990 through the first half of 1994, Jones served as commanding officer of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During their tour in Northern Iraq and Turkey, Jones was promoted to brigadier general. He served as deputy director of U.S. European Command in Germany and as chief of staff for operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Republic of Macedonia.
Jim Jones returned to the United States in July 1994 and was advanced to the rank of major general, assigned as commanding general, 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He next served as director, Expeditionary Warfare Division in Washington, D.C. and advanced to lieutenant general on July 18, 1996 and served as the military assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
On April 21, 1999, Jones was nominated to the grade of general and promoted to the rank on June 30, 1999. General Jones assumed duties as the commander of U.S. European Command on January 16, 2003 and on the following day, as supreme allied commander Europe. He was the first Marine Corps general to serve as SACEUR/EUCOM commander. As of December 2006, Jones was one of five serving Marine Corps four-star general officers who outranked the current commandant of the Marine Corps in terms of seniority and time in grade. General Jones retired from the Marine Corps on February 1, 2007.
Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, Jim Jones became president of the Institute for 21st century Energy, an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Jones worked in the private business world as well serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the Boeing Company, Cross Match Technologies, and Chevron Corporation. He served as a member of the guiding coalition for the Project on National Security reform and as chairman of the Independent Commission on Security Forces of Iraq to investigate the capabilities of the Iraq armed forces and police. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Jones as a special envoy for Middle East security on November 28, 2007. He worked with Israelis and Palestinians to strengthen security for both sides.
On December 1, 2008 then President-elect Barack Obama announced Jim Jones as his selection for National Security Advisor. Even though the two men had spoken to each other two or three times, Jim Jones’ military and civilian record suggested to the incoming President that he was someone who was unencumbered by strong ideological leanings and who could evaluate ideas dispassionately. Jim Jones was also picked because he is well respected and has the skills to navigate with other powerful cabinet members.
“When a leader judges somebody, I expect them to make sure they judge them in the context of the good of the whole, not because that person irritated them or made them look bad. That’s not what leadership is about. Leadership is about mentoring, education, and forming a bond.”
General Jim Jones, National Security Advisor