Trump picks Mil­ley as next top mil­i­tary ad­viser

The Herald-Sun (Sunday) - - Nation - BY DEB REICHMANN

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump an­nounced Satur­day that he’s picked a bat­tle-hard­ened com­man­der who over­saw troops in Iraq and Afghanistan to be the na­tion’s next top mil­i­tary ad­viser.

If con­firmed by the Sen­ate, Gen. Mark Mil­ley, who has been chief of the Army since Au­gust 2015, would suc­ceed Ma­rine Gen. Joseph Dun­ford as chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dun­ford’s term doesn’t end un­til Oct. 1. Trump said the date of tran­si­tion is “to be de­ter­mined.”

Trump used an early morn­ing tweet to re­veal his choice. “I am thank­ful to both of these in­cred­i­ble men for their ser­vice to our Coun­try!” he said.

Dun­ford is a former com­man­dant of the Ma­rine Corps and com­man­der of coali­tion troops in Afghanistan. Mil­ley com­manded troops dur­ing sev­eral tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dun­ford’s spokesman, Col. Patrick Ry­der, said all in­di­ca­tions are that Dun­ford will serve his full term. Ry­der re­ferred other ques­tions to the White House. He said Dun­ford con­grat­u­lated Mil­ley on his nom­i­na­tion. “He has served with Gen. Mil­ley in peace­time and in com­bat and has the high­est re­gard for his lead­er­ship.”

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R-S.C., a mem­ber of the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment that Mil­ley was “a bat­tle-tested com­man­der and Pen­tagon re­former who will be a wor­thy suc­ces­sor” to Dun­ford. That com­mit­tee would con­sider a Joint Chiefs nom­i­na­tion.

The chair­man of the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee praised Mil­ley for his “di­rect, in­sight­ful mil­i­tary as­sess­ments based upon his in­tel­lect and years of ex­pe­ri­ence.” Rep. Mac Thorn­berry, R-Texas, also noted that the Joint Chiefs chair­man serves Congress as well as the pres­i­dent and de­fense sec­re­tary.

Trump’s de­ci­sion, an­nounced be­fore leav­ing Wash­ing­ton for the an­nual Army-Navy foot­ball game in Philadel­phia, had caught some in the Pen­tagon by sur­prise when un­of­fi­cial word spread Fri­day after he had tweeted that a suc­ces­sion an­nounce­ment was com­ing.

Nor­mally an an­nounce­ment on a new chair­man wouldn’t be ex­pected un­til early next year. Of­fi­cials had said the Air Force chief, Gen. David Gold­fein, was also a strong con­tender for the job.

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.” In 2016, he told law­mak­ers, in an­swer to a di­rect ques­tion, that women should also have to reg­is­ter for the draft now that they are al­lowed to serve in all com­bat jobs.

AN­DREW HARNIK AP

With the nom­i­na­tion of Gen. Mark Mil­ley, shown in 2017, to chair the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has cho­sen a bat­tle-hard­ened com­man­der who has served as chief of the Army for the past three years.

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