Trump chooses new Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, against Mattis wishes

Saul Bowman
December 9, 2018

Milley would succeed Marine General Joseph Dunford, who would normally stay in office as chairman until a slated October 1, 2019 handover date. Dunford has been serving as chairman since 2015.

In addition to the scheduled change of the chairman, several other key slots on the Joint Chiefs of Staff are scheduled to open next year. He later commanded the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum in NY, the III Corps at Fort Hood in Texas, and U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg in North Carolina before taking the reins as chief of staff in August 2015.

He was the head of the US Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and was assigned to review the investigation of former Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held captive by the Taliban for five years after leaving his post in Afghanistan in 2009. Before that he had served as Commandant of the Marine Corps.

Trump said the transition date was "to be determined", in a sign that Dunford might go sooner rather than later, but Ryder noted: "All indications are that General Dunford will serve his full term".


A Princeton-educated Green Beret, Milley has served multiple combat tours in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan during his 38-year career.

Trump's decision, announced before leaving Washington for the annual Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, had caught some in the Pentagon by surprise when unofficial word spread Friday after he had tweeted that a succession announcement was coming. He has served in numerous command and leadership position, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Bergdahl was eventually found guilty, reduced in rank to private, dishonorably discharged and fined $10,000, but was spared any additional prison time.

Previous chairmen served two two-year terms if they were re-nominated. Trump re-nominated him in 2017 for a second term.

If chosen, Milley would succeed the current chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford, whose term expires later next year.

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