Trump picks Milley as next top military adviser
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.
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.