Trump taps Vincent Viola as Army secretary
Florida Panthers owner is veteran, graduated from West Point.
President-elect Donald Trump on Monday tapped another military veteran, who also is a billionaire, to serve in a top-level administration post, naming trading company executive and former Army officer Vincent Viola as his pick to serve as the next secretary of the Army.
Mr. Trump said the American people, “whether civilian or military,” should have great confidence in Mr. Viola’s ability to do the job.
Mr. Viola, who owns the Florida Panthers hockey franchise, is the founder of the trading company Virtu Financial, and has also served as chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange.
He graduated from West Point and was later commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army, also serving in the 101st Airborne Division. After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he helped form the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.
“If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to provide our president with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his National Defense Strategy,” he said. “A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”
Mr. Viola’s name is part of a growing list of top administration nominees with direct military experience. Mr. Trump has already named retired Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis as his pick for secretary of defense and retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly as his pick to run the Department of Homeland Security.
Mr. Trump has also named retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as his national security adviser and Navy veteran Stephen K. Bannon as his top strategist. Unlike other administration positions, those two will not require Senate confirmation.
Rep. Adam Kinzinger, Illinois Republican, said people with military experience are uniquely qualified to make decisions about matters like defense.
“We know where, for lack of a better term, the skeletons are buried, for instance in the Pentagon,” said Mr. Kinzinger, who served in the Air Force in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We know where there’s inefficiencies.”
Rep. Seth Moulton, who served in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantry officer, said Mr. Viola appeared to have an “impressive” career in business in addition to his military history, but that Mr. Trump’s Cabinet is already looking pretty homogenous.
“There’s a lot of generals. I value the input of generals, but you can’t have a Cabinet that all looks the same, that’s almost all white, that’s almost all men, and is 90 percent millionaires and billionaires,” Mr. Moulton, Massachusetts Democrat, said on CNN.
Mr. Trump has also named ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson as his pick for secretary of state, and financiers Steven Mnuchin and Wilbur Ross to lead the treasury and commerce departments, respectively.
Mr. Trump has also named Rep. Ryan K. Zinke of Montana, a retired Navy SEAL, as his interior secretary pick. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, once a pilot in the Air Force, is Mr. Trump’s pick for secretary of the Department of Energy, and Rep. Mike Pompeo, a former Army officer, is in line to become the next CIA director.
Gen. Mattis will require a change in the law to allow him to serve as secretary of defense. Current law requires someone to have been retired from the military for at least seven years before assuming the top Pentagon post as a way of ensuring civilian control of the military.
As part of a year-end spending bill, Congress has approved a streamlined approach for changing that law early next year.
President-elect Donald Trump has tapped Army veteran and billionaire businessman Vincent Viola as his nominee for secretary of the Army.