Milley Sworn In As New Joint Chiefs Chairman

October 1, 2019 by Dan McCue
(Photo courtesy Department of Defense)

WASHINGTON — Army Gen. Mark Milley became the nation’s top military officer Monday, being sworn in during a rain-soaked ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson in Arlington, Virginia.

Milley assumes the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at a challenging time in geopolitics, and will have to advise a president who is prone to make policy decisions in a flash and abruptly announce them on Twitter.

In brief remarks on Monday, Milley assured President Donald Trump that he would “always provide you [with] informed, candid, impartial military advice.”

Trump, in turn, praised Milley calling him “living proof that the American warfighter is the toughest, smartest and bravest, best and brightest by far anywhere in the world.”

While the Pentagon has largely tried to distance itself from House Democrats’ probe into whether Trump pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate a political rival, Milley will be forced to deal with allies now worried that U.S. military aid could come with strings attached.

The general was not unmindful of this on Monday. As he noted the presence of several foreign military leaders, he said their attendance “demonstrates the importance of our shared security interests and common values. As chairman, I look forward to working with all of you to ensure our collective security.”

Also in attendance were Vice President Mike Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who looked on as the departing Joint Chiefs chairman, Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford, swore in his successor.

Milley, 61, is the 20th chairman since the position was established in 1947.

A native of Winchester, Massachusetts, Milley received his Army commission from Princeton University in 1980.

An infantry officer by training, he commanded Special Forces units in a career that included deployments in the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the multinational mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina to implement the Dayton Peace Accords.

Milley also commanded troops during several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He has been serving as the Army chief of staff since August 2015. In that role, Milley helped shepherd the groundbreaking move of women into front-line infantry and other combat positions.

More recently, he has worked with his senior officers to reverse a shortfall in Army recruiting when the service fell far short of its annual goal last year.

During his remarks, he vowed to maintain the high quality of the world’s preeminent fighting force.

“We are the best-equipped, best-trained, best-led military in human history, and our adversaries should know never to underestimate our skill, our capability and our combat power,” he said. “We will remain the world’s premier fighting force — respected by our friends and feared by our adversaries. We will do this by emphasizing readiness and the modernization of the joint force, all while providing unwavering support, and care, and leadership to our troops and their families.”

Milley also noted that there are currently about 3 million service members deployed in 160 countries, many in harm’s way.

“With the complex challenges of the international environment, the United States Armed Forces stand ready. We stand ready to keep the peace or, if necessary, win the war,” he said.

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