Trump Picks Retired Gen. John Kelly to Lead Department of Homeland Security

Donald Trump with retired U.S. Marine Corps General John Kelly / AP
• December 7, 2016 11:39 am


President-elect Donald Trump has reportedly chosen retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly to serve as his secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

Trump's transition team will make an official announcement in the coming days, CBS News reported Wednesday, citing multiple sources.

Kelly is the third general tapped by the president-elect, joining Gen. James Mattis, Mr. Trump's pick to become the next secretary of Defense, and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump's incoming national security adviser.

Like Mattis, Kelly is a Marine with a reputation for bluntness.

Kelly was the commander of U.S. Southern Command until earlier this year. In that posting, he oversaw American military operations in South America and Central America.

A person familiar with the decision to pick Kelly told the New York Times that Trump will announce next week the nomination along with other national security picks for his Cabinet, including secretary of state.

Before serving as the commander of U.S. Southern Command, Kelly lead American forces in Iraq and spent time as an aide to former defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Robert Gates.

Kelly's son, also a Marine, was killed in 2010 by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan, making the retired four-star general the highest ranking military officer to lose a child in combat since 9/11.

Earlier this year, Kelly criticized the Obama administration for its unwillingness to declare that the U.S. had troops in combat operations in the Middle East despite Special Forces soldiers helping in the fight against the Islamic State. Kelly also suggested that the administration was wrong to push for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba.

"What I see are animals acting like brutal animals," Kelly said of the Guantanamo prisoners.

Established in 2002, the Department of Homeland Security was created following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, and is responsible for protecting the American people and homeland from foreign and domestic threats. As the head of the agency, Kelly will be in charge of securing America's borders, enforcing immigration laws, and preventing terrorist attacks, among many other duties.