President-elect Donald Trump on Monday nominated billionaire philanthropist Vincent Viola as the next secretary of the Army.
Viola, founder of digital stock trading firm Virtu Financial and owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers, is a 1977 West Point graduate who rose to the rank of major in the Army Reserve.
If confirmed, he’ll effectively be the fourth new secretary for the service in the last two years.
Current Army Secretary Eric Fanning was nominated to replace John McHugh in late 2015, but did not officially take over the job until May because of a lengthy confirmation fight with Congress. Deputy Army Secretary Patrick Murphy served in an acting role for more than four months.
No timetable has been set for when Viola’s confirmation hearing may take place. In a statement, he called the responsibility of the role an honor and a challenge.
“If confirmed, I will work tirelessly to provide our president with the land force he will need to accomplish any mission in support of his national defense strategy,” he said. “A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”
Trump praised Viola as “a man of outstanding work ethic, integrity, and strategic vision” who will help keep America safe.
“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” he said in a statement.
Viola brings a wealth of business experience to Trump’s Pentagon, and will be a key figure in helping carry out the next president’s promises to cut waste and build up America’s armed forces.
The 60-year-old businessman is a former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and was serving in that role during the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.
In response, he helped found the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, a privately funded research wing of the school focused on “counterterrorism policy and strategy” and “ways to confront the dynamic threat environment” facing America today.
He has also been a donor to numerous Army charities and support networks, including the Army Cyber Institute, the Modern War Institute and Army athletic programs.
He’s the son of Italian immigrants, and his father served in the U.S. Army during World War II.
The Army appointment will require Viola to step away from several of his business holdings, including his NHL franchise. In a statement, team officials said ownership of the Florida Panthers will remain in the Viola family, but the team’s vice chairman will take over operations responsibilities.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at