President-elect Donald Trump on Monday formally nominated retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, praising his military background as the right experience for the job.
"[His] decades of military service and deep commitment to fighting the threat of terrorism inside our borders makes him the ideal choice," Trump said in a statement. "He is the right person to spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders, streamlining the [Transportation Security Administration], and improving coordination between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies."
Trump called the 66-year-old veteran "a leader committed to our safety."
In a statement released by the presidential transition team, Kelly said he was humbled by the nomination.
"The American people voted in this election to stop terrorism, take back sovereignty at our borders, and put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security," he said.
"I will tackle those issues with a seriousness of purpose and a deep respect for our laws and Constitution."
Kelly, the former head of U.S. Southern Command, is well-regarded among Republicans on Capitol Hill and expected to face an easy confirmation.
The final block of his 45-year Marine Corps career included multiple fights with President Obama’s administration on a variety of security and military issues, including the attempt to shutter detention facilities at Naval Station Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
He’s a Boston native and close friend of Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford. He also is the highest-ranking American military official to lose a child in combat during the recent wars. His son, Marine Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan in 2010.
Kelly is the third high-profile retired military leader tapped for a prominent position in the next administration. Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis has been nominated as the next secretary of defense. Former Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has been nominated as his national security adviser. Follow @LeoShane
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .