January 19, 2017

John Kelly to be Secretary of Homeland Security


  • General Kelly had a long and decorated career in the Marine Corps, during which he took a leading role in prosecuting the fight on radical Islamic terrorism and protecting the southern border.
  • General Kelly has significant experience leading large and complex organizations.
  • Bipartisan experts agree that General Kelly is uniquely qualified to lead DHS.

Biography

General John Kelly retired as a four-star Marine Corps general in 2016. General Kelly enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1970 and was discharged as a sergeant in 1972. Following his graduation from the University of Massachusetts, General Kelly was commissioned as a Marine officer. Over his 45-year career in the Marine Corps, General Kelly served in a wide variety of leadership positions, including key roles in both wars in Iraq, and culminating in leading the U.S. Southern Command, where he built strong relationships with our southern allies and oversaw the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and operations along the U.S. southern border.

Senate Action

The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held a confirmation hearing for General Kelly on January 10.

Considerations

Over General Kelly’s long and distinguished Marine Corps career, he took a leading role in prosecuting the fight against radical Islamic terrorism and protecting the southern border. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates noted that General Kelly has significant experience leading large and complex organizations and “successfully managed relationships and partnerships with seven different cabinet departments.” HSGAC Chairman Ron Johnson has described General Kelly as “uniquely qualified” to lead DHS, a view echoed by Secretary Gates, Senators Tom Carper and John McCain, and former Homeland Security Secretaries Michael Chertoff and Tom Ridge, among others.  

In his pre-hearing responses, General Kelly said that his highest priority as secretary of homeland security would “be to close the border to the illegal movement of people and things.” General Kelly also noted that he believed that “current efforts to prevent terrorist recruitment and inspiring terrorist acts are inadequate” and that cybersecurity defenses must be strengthened. He identified his greatest successes as a leader as “[t]aking care of my people, speaking ‘truth to power,’ and successfully completing every mission I have ever been assigned.”

Issue Tags: National Security, Senate