Trump to Pick Army’s Milley to Lead Joint Chiefs of Staff, Official Says
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump will tap Army Chief of Staff Mark Milley to be the next head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing Marine General Joseph Dunford, according to a White House official familiar with the decision.
Milley, a four-star general, would become the country’s top military officer and senior military adviser if confirmed by the Senate. He’d be responsible for helping provide guidance to Trump on U.S. deployments to places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, which has become the longest war in American history and a conflict the president has long said he’d like to get out of.
The Massachusetts native and Princeton University graduate knows the Afghan conflict well: he’s done three tours during Operation Enduring Freedom and served as the deputy commanding general for U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. He’s also served in Iraq, Panama, Haiti, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Somalia, among others.
Milley would also be responsible for helping the military carry out the priorities in Trump’s National Defense Strategy, which calls for an emphasis on the potential for “great power” conflict with countries like Russia and China over a focus on counterterrorism.
Milley addressed the shift in priorities at an April hearing on Capitol Hill.
“Guerrillas, insurgents, terrorists are going to be around for a long time in various different forms,” he told the Senate Armed Services Committee on April 12. “We have to maintain the skill set. But, at the same time, we have to recapture our skills at combined arms maneuver warfare against near-peer competitors and great power competition.”
The New York Times reported the appointment earlier.
While Trump told reporters early Friday that he would be nominating Bill Barr to be his Attorney General and Heather Nauert to be his ambassador to the United Nations, he made a more cryptic reference to a change at the Joint Chiefs.
“I have another one for tomorrow that I’m going to be announcing at the Army-Navy game,” Trump said. “I can give you a little hint: It will have to do with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and succession.”
Milley, 60, would replace Dunford, who was first picked by President Barack Obama in 2015 and reappointed by Trump two years later. Dunford’s term is due to expire in 2019. Under a 2017 law, the term for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs will be increased to four years from two.
“It’s an unusual pick -- Milley has extensive operational experience and excellent intellectual credentials, but not much” time working with the Navy, Marines and Air Force in joint operations, said Mark Cancian, a senior adviser for the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “It’s certainly good news for the Army, which has struggled to make a place for itself in the new defense strategy.”
As a Princeton student in the late 1970s, Milley captained the university’s ice hockey team. Decades later, he returned to the ice to coach an Army team to a 5-3 victory over Navy. He graduated with a degree in political science in 1980 and later received a Master’s degree in international relations from Columbia University.
As Army Chief of Staff, Milley joined other senior military leaders in issuing what was interpreted as a subtle rebuke of Trump in August 2017, when the president blamed “both sides” for violence at rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, when a white supremacist rammed his car into a crowd, killing one woman.
“The Army doesn’t tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks,” Milley wrote on Twitter. “It’s against our Values and everything we’ve stood for since 1775.”
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