President-elect Donald Trump has officially tapped retired Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security, Trump’s transition team officially announced early Monday morning.
Rumors had been swirling since last week that Trump was eying Kelly for the position, but the Trump team hadn’t officially confirmed anything until Monday.
Kelly is the former head of the U.S. Southern Command, where he oversaw U.S. military operations in Central and Southern America and the Caribbean. His command included managing the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, where he often butted heads with the Obama administration over President Barack Obama’s desire to close the detention facility.
In addition, he also served in combat in Iraq while commanding U.S. troops there. He retired in January after more than 45 years of service with the Marines.
In a statement released by his transition team, the president-elect praised Kelly and his “deep commitment” to fight terrorism inside U.S. borders.
“Gen. John Kelly’s decades of military service and deep commitment to fighting the threat of terrorism inside our borders makes him the ideal choice to serve as our Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security,” Trump said in a statement. “He is the right person to spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders, streamlining TSA and improving coordination between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”
“With Gen. Kelly at the helm of DHS, the American people will have a leader committed to our safety as well as one who will work hand-in-hand with America’s rank-and-file TSA, ICE and Border Patrol officers,” he added.
For his part, Kelly said he accepts Trump’s nomination, which he is “humbled” and “grateful” to do.
“I am humbled and grateful to be nominated to serve in President-elect Trump’s cabinet as Homeland Security Secretary,” Kelly said in the statement released by Trump’s transition team.
“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 added. “I will tackle those issues with a seriousness of purpose and a deep respect for our laws and Constitution.”
Kelly is the third general to be nominated by Trump to lead a high-level cabinet position. Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn is the president-elect’s pick to be national security adviser, and retired Gen. James Mattis has been selected to for the defense secretary post.
Both Kelly and Mattis will need to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate before officially leading their respective departments.