John Kelly: The Boston native in charge of bringing order to President Trump’s White House

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly testifies before the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee about border security, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 5, 2017. Kelly said Wednesday that it was doubtful that a wall along the full border with Mexico would ever be built. (Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times)
President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff John Kelly. –Gabriella Demczuk/The New York Times/File

WASHINGTON — General John F. Kelly needed to deal with Al Qaeda, urgently. It was 2008, and insurgents were operating with near impunity in the territory between two US commands.

So Kelly, then the Marine general in charge of Anbar province, and a like-minded commander hatched a plan to cut through military bureaucracy: they simply moved their military boundaries and took the refuge away from the enemy. What they didn’t do was seek permission from military higher-ups in Baghdad.

“Our senior commander was busy with his own issues in the capital,’’ explained retired General Mark Hertling, who controlled the territory next to Kelly’s. “You overcome your bosses’ approach by combining forces and doing the kinds of things you want to do.’’