Admiral Jonathan T. Howe is the front-runner for the No. 2 job at the National Security Council, vacated when Robert M. Gates was confirmed as director of central intelligence on Nov. 5. Howe, 56, is commander-in-chief of U. S. naval forces in Europe and once served as a military aide to Henry A. Kissinger at the NSC and as director of political and military affairs at the State Dept.

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