In early move, Trump chooses chief of the Army to be top military adviser
WASHINGTON» President Donald Trump will tap Gen. Mark Milley as his next top military adviser, choosing a battle-hardened commander who has served as chief of the Army for the past three years, U.S. officials said Friday.
If confirmed by the Senate, Milley would succeed Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the pinnacle of a military career. Dunford, a former commandant of the Marine Corps and commander of coalition troops in Afghanistan, is expected to serve out his term as Joint Chiefs chairman, which ends Oct. 1.
Milley, who commanded troops during several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, has served as the Army’s top officer since August 2015.
Trump is expected to announce his decision Saturday at the Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia.
The decision caught some in the Pentagon by surprise Friday. Normally an announcement on a new chairman wouldn’t be expected until early next year. The officials said the Air Force chief, Gen. David Goldfein, was also a strong contender for the job, but they indicated that Milley has a very good relationship with the president.
Trump hinted earlier Friday that he would be making an announcement on Saturday, when he attends the game and is expected to perform the coin toss to decide which team gets the ball first. “I can give you a little hint: It will have to do with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and succession,” he said.
Milley is known as a charismatic, outgoing leader who has not been afraid to offer candid and sometimes blunt assessments to Congress. Last year he admonished the House Armed Services Committee for its inability to approve a defense budget, slamming it as “professional malpractice.” And in 2016, he told lawmakers that women should also have to register for the draft now that they are allowed to serve in all combat jobs.
As the Army’s top leader, he helped shepherd the groundbreaking move of women into front-line infantry and other combat positions, while warning that it would take time to do it right.
Gen. Mark Milley, Army chief of staff, speaks to the Senate Armed Services Committee in May 2017 about the Army’s budget for this year.