Donald Trump is loading up his administration with prominent generals. So far retired generals Michael T. Flynn and James Mattis have been tapped for prominent roles in the cabinet.
Flynn will serve as a National Security Advisor and Mattis will serve as Secretary of Defense (although he will need a congressional waiver to do so).
Trump’s pick of Mattis was met with almost universal approval, while Flynn generated a bit more controversy.
Now, it looks like Trump is set to add another prominent general to the mix by tapping retired Marine General John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
According to a NY Times report:
General Kelly was the commander of the United States Southern Command, a job in which he functioned as a commander-ambassador. Responsible for a sprawling area that encompasses 32 countries in the Caribbean, Central America and South America, the Southern Command is less focused on combat than other regional military commands. It has a reputation for emphasizing “soft power” over hard military might, and gets deeply involved in issues such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, as well as programs to train local militaries.
Still, General Kelly attracted notice while at the Southern Command for comments about the military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, which fell in his area of responsibility. He rejected criticism from human rights activists about the treatment of detainees, and said the program to force-feed prisoners undertaking hunger strikes was reasonable and humane. He also dismissed one argument cited by those who advocate closing the military prison at Guantánamo, saying it had not proven to be an inspiration for militants.
Kelly’s military experience, combined with his diplomatic experience and knowledge of Central and South America will likely be valuable to Trump who has put Southern border security at a high level on his list of goals for his presidency.
Kelly has led troops in intense combat as recently as 2003 during fighting in Iraq. He was the first Marine Corps colonel since the 1950’s to be field promoted to Brigadier General during combat operations.
Kelly is also a Gold Star parent himself, having lost his son who died in combat in Afghanistan.
Kelly is out of the country this week, so it is likely a formal announcement on the nomination won’t be made until sometime next week.