WASHINGTON — Army Gen. Mark Milley is expected to be announced as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Saturday, multiple news outlets are reporting.
Milley, the Army’s top uniformed officer, will be named by President Donald Trump as his pick to succeed Marine Gen. Joe Dunford as chairman during the annual Army-Navy game. Trump teased such an announcement during a brief statement to press on Friday.
A source with knowledge of the discussions over the last month said that Trump had met with both Milley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, as part of the interview process. Both Dunford and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis favored Goldfein for the job, the source said, but Trump has been impressed with Milley.
A second source added that Milley’s interview was very impressive for the president.
In theory, the chairmanship is supposed to rotate among the services, which would have set up Goldfein as the leading nominee. The Air Force has had the longest gap between having a chairman from their ranks — the last one was Gen. Richard Myers, who served from 2001 to 2005. Some analysts believed putting in someone from the Air Force would also make sense, given the focus on space and high technology coming from the Pentagon at the moment.
However, it may be that the administration picks an Air Force general as vice chairman, a role often seen as more focused on technology and capabilities than the chairman. If so, that would mean a second USAF official in a row acting as vice, with Gen. Paul Selva having served in that job since 2015.
One name to watch for that spot: Gen. John Hyten, the current head of U.S. Strategic Command.
The Joint Chiefs are in the middle of an unusual cycle, where all four service chiefs, as well as Dunford and Selva, are scheduled to be replaced in a very short period of time.
A 1980 graduate of Princeton University, Milley served in the 82nd Airborne Division and 5th Special Forces Group. He also served with the 7th Infantry Division, the 10th Mountain Division, the 25th Infantry Division and the 101st Airborne Division.
Milley, a native of the Boston area, also previously served on the operations staff of the Joint Chiefs and as a military assistant to the defense secretary. He was the commander of Army Forces Command in May 2015 when, in a surprise pick, he was nominated to become the Army chief of staff. He has served as the Army’s top officer since August 2015.
During his time in the job, Milley has pushed the Army to increase the readiness of its brigade combat teams, the Army’s primary fighting formations, while reducing the number of non-deployable soldiers in the ranks. He also has zeroed in on key modernization efforts to prepare the force for the next war — including boosting the Army’s long-range precision fires capabilities, developing next-generation combat vehicles and leap-ahead personal weapons for combat troops, and improving the service’s networks and air and missile defense.
Michelle Tan with Military Times contributed to this report.
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.