Milley is confirmed as the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
By CAITLIN KENNEY | STARS AND STRIPES Published: July 25, 2019
WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday confirmed Gen. Mark Milley to be the 20th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the latest confirmation to fill several key leadership positions in the Defense Department.
Milley was confirmed in an 89-1 vote by the Senate. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., was the sole vote against Milley.
"I am humbled and honored to be confirmed as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” Milley said Thursday in a prepared statement, adding he looked forward to continuing to work alongside servicemembers, Defense Department civilians, and their families.
Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, was nominated in April to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, replacing Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who will serve through September having been the chairman since 2015.
Dunford congratulated Milley on the confirmation.
“Gen. Milley and I have served together multiple times to include our time together in combat. He will be a superb chairman,” Dunford said Thursday in a statement. “The president, secretary of defense, and our men and women in uniform will be well served by his superb leadership, intellect, operational experience, and deep understanding of today's national security challenges. I thank him and his family for their continued service to our nation."
However, Merkley voted against Milley because he was “concerned by Gen. Milley’s stated support for building up the U.S.’s nuclear arsenal and deployments,” Martina McLennan, a spokeswoman for the senator, wrote Thursday in an emailed statement. “The senator does not believe that a new nuclear arms race is in our best interest, and voted no accordingly.”
Gen. James McConville, the vice chief of staff of the Army, was confirmed in May by the Senate to replace Milley as Army chief of staff.
Milley’s nomination was approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday along with Mark Esper, who is now the defense secretary.
Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee has been outspoken about vacancies in key leadership positions at the Pentagon, and have recently set up several confirmation hearings and votes to fill the jobs quickly as their monthlong August recess approaches.
One upcoming hearing will be for Air Force Gen. John Hyten, who has been nominated to be the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Questions about Hyten were raised by senators after sexual misconduct allegations by a former military aide were reported recently. A military investigation found insufficient evidence to charge Hyten or punish him administratively, according to a report by The Associated Press. His accuser testified this week in a closed-door meeting with senators, according to CQ Roll Call. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told the publication that the committee will have a briefing sometime before Friday about Hyten’s nomination.
Milley, who is a Princeton graduate and a Green Beret, has served multiple combat tours in Panama, Iraq and Afghanistan during his 38-year career. He has served in the 5th Special Force Group, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division and the 3rd Infantry Division. He later commanded the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., the III Corps at Fort Hood, Texas, and U.S. Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, N.C., before becoming chief of staff in August 2015.