President-elect Donald Trump chose retired Marine Gen. John Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security, turning to what the Washington Post calls “a blunt-spoken border-security hawk who clashed with the Obama administration over women in combat and plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison. Kelly, who retired in February as chief of the U.S. Southern Command, would inherit a troubled department responsible for the most controversial part of Trump’s agenda: his crackdown on illegal immigration. DHS is the third-largest cabinet department, with 240,000 employees whose jobs include fighting terrorism, protecting the president, and enforcing immigration laws.
Kelly, 66, is a respected military officer who served for more than 40 years, and he is not expected to face difficulty winning Senate confirmation. Trump’s team was drawn to him because of his Southwest border expertise, people familiar with the transition said. Like the president-elect, Kelly has sounded the alarm about drugs, terrorism and other cross-border threats that he sees as emanating from Mexico and Central and South America. The nomination could raise questions about Trump’s tendency to surround himself with military figures. Trump has selected retired Marine Gem James Mattis for defense secretary and retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser, while retired Army Gen. David Petraeus is under consideration for secretary of state.