President Donald Trump on Saturday named Army Gen. Mark Milley as his nominee to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Milley is set to replace current chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, who still has nearly 10 months left in his term.
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“I am pleased to announce my nomination of four-star General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff of the United States Army – as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing General Joe Dunford, who will be retiring….” the president tweeted.
In another post, Trump wrote: “….I am thankful to both of these incredible men for their service to our Country! Date of transition to be determined.”
Trump had hinted Friday that he would make an announcement regarding the Joint Chiefs at the annual Army-Navy football game, for which the president will travel to Philadelphia on Saturday.
“I have another one for tomorrow that I’m going to be announcing at the Army-Navy game,” Trump said, after naming former U.S. Attorney General William Barr as his pick to lead the Justice Department and tapping State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert for the role of U.N. Ambassador.
“I can give you a little hint: It will have to do with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and succession,” Trump said.
Trump is poised to make a slew of other high-profile military appointments in the coming year. Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, Marine Commandant Gen. Robert Neller and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson will all finish their terms in 2019. The president will also have to replace Milley as Army chief of staff.
Milley is a native of Massachusetts and played hockey at Princeton before entering the Army as an infantry officer. During nearly four decades on active duty, he joined Special Forces before returning to the infantry. He commanded a brigade during intense combat in Iraq in 2004-05, and has deployed repeatedly to Afghanistan. Milley helped establish that country’s post-2001 army, and he later oversaw operations throughout the whole country.
The Army has pivoted from fighting insurgencies to preparing for a potential high-tech conflict with Russia or China during Milley’s tenure. In a major Army reorganization carried out over the past year, he established a new four-star command to oversee the Army’s modernization of its weapons and doctrine.
But Milley has insisted that the Army retain its expertise in counterinsurgency operations rather than tossing it out, as it did after Vietnam. Among his personal projects during his term as chief of staff was the creation of a new set of combat adviser brigades to retain those skills while the rest of the force transitions to training for large-scale conventional war.
Regarding Trump’s proposed ban on transgender troops, Milley said in April that he had “received precisely zero reports of issues of cohesion, discipline, morale and all those sorts of things” due to the presence of transgender soldiers.
Milley’s nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate, and due to recent revisions in the National Defense Authorization Act, he will be the first chairman to serve a single four-year term rather than a two-year term with the possibility of second.