President-elect Donald Trump has chosen retired Marine General John Kelly, whose son was killed in combat in Afghanistan, for Secretary of Homeland Security.
Kelly becomes the third General and second Marine General that Trump has picked to his Cabinet. He previously picked General James Mattis as his Secretary of Defense, and Lt. General Michael Flynn as his National Security Adviser. If confirmed, Kelly would be in charge of defending American territory from terrorism.
The 66 year old former General, who led the United States Southern Command, had a 45 year career in the Marine Corps before retiring in January of this year, including leading troops in intense combat in western Iraq. In 2003, he became the first Marine colonel since 1951 to be promoted to brigadier general while on active duty. In 2010, his son, Marine Lt. Robert Michael Kelly was killed in action in Afghanistan.
The Washington Post reports that Kelly was selected because of his expertise on the U.S. southern border from his time leading the Southern Command. He also agrees with the President-elect regarding the threat of terrorists and drug smugglers crossing into the country from Mexico. As head of Southern Command, he also oversaw the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and publicly was against the closing of that facility.
The Department of Homeland Security, which was created after the 9/11 attacks, currently employs nearly 250,000 people. During his campaign, Trump repeatedly pledged to better secure U.S. borders, particularly, the southern one. Kelly will likely be instrumental to that effort should he be confirmed.
According to sources familiar with the decision, the President-elect has not formally offered the job to Kelly, in part because of the fact that he is out of the country currently. The appointment, along with the rest of the national security positions, are set to be announced next week. That includes Trump’s pick for Secretary of State.