President Donald Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence, participates in an Armed Forces Welcome Ceremony in honor of Army Gen. Mark Milley, the 20th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, on Sept. 30, 2019, at Summerall Field, JB Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. White House photo by Shealah Craighead.
Army Gen. Mark Milley on Sept. 30 became the 20th chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, taking over for retiring Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford.
Milley, who served as Army chief of staff since 2015, was sworn in as the nation’s top uniformed officer during a rain-soaked ceremony at JB Myer-Henderson Hall, Va. During his speech, Milley pledged to continue the military’s modernization, along with showing “unwavering support” and care for troops and families.
“We stand ready to keep the peace, or if necessary, win the war,” he said. “We are the best-equipped, best-trained, best-led military in human history Our adversaries should know to never underestimate our skill, our capability, and our combat power.”
The Senate confirmed Milley by an overwhelming majority in July, with a vote of 89-1 as part of an expedited confirmation process.
Dunford, who is retiring after 42 years in uniform, served as the 36th Marine Corps commandant before becoming CJCS in October 2015. He leaves behind a “legacy of steady leadership, solid judgment, and sincere humility,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said at the ceremony.
President Donald Trump, in a speech at the ceremony, said he met Dunford in 2015 at an event where, in a conversation about improving the military, he began thinking about running for president.
“This was before it was public,” Trump said. “He was one of the first people I asked. I said ‘What do you think? Do you think I’d have a shot? If I get it, we’re going to rebuild the military. It’s going to be stronger than ever before. And he helped me form an opinion. He gave me a lot of information. And he has ever since.”
Trump credited Dunford for his leadership in defeating the Islamic State’s physical caliphate in Iraq and Syria, and for leading the forthcoming creation of the separate Space Force.
Milley will take over as another “exceptional chairman” to lead the “most skilled, determined, and powerful military ever assembled in human history,” Trump said.