Retired Four-Star General John Kelly is the new White House Chief of Staff, replacing the abruptly fired Reince Priebus. But who is General Kelly? Is he a man of integrity? Is he a fair and honest man? Let us take a look …
John and his wife Karen have been married for more than 40 years. Their marriage has survived not only numerous deployments and military separations, but in 2010 their son, Robert, was killed in action in Sangin, Afghanistan. To keep a marriage alive through all that requires dedication, commitment, and a whole lot of love. It also says much about the character of the two individuals.
John and Karen have two other grown children: John, Jr., is a Marine Corps Major, and Kathleen, who works for the American Red Cross at Walter Reed Hospital.
John enlisted in the Marines in 1970, and was discharged from active duty as a sergeant in 1972, after serving in an infantry company with the 2nd Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was commissioned on December 27, 1975, as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps via Officer Candidates School. In 1976, he graduated from the University of Massachusetts Boston and, in 1984, he received a Master of Science degree in National Security Studies from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service.
Kelly served in the Persian Gulf War, during the Operation Desert Storm combat phase in January and February 1991. In 2002, Kelly was promoted to Brigadier General. After the Iraq War began, he was deployed to Iraq. He took command of Task Force Tripoli in April 2003 after the fall of Baghdad. Kelly’s last role in the military before retirement in 2016, was commander of U.S. Southern Command. It is one of the Unified Combatant Commands and is responsible for operations in Central and South America. It is based in Doral, Florida. This was his first and only four-star assignment.
Secretary of Homeland Security
Kelly was confirmed as Secretary of Homeland Security by a Senate vote of 88-11 on inauguration day, January 20th. In this position, he has consistently supported the idea of a wall spanning the U.S.-Mexico border, saying that he believed “a border wall is essential” as there were “tremendous threats” such as drugs and individuals coming into the U.S. Kelly said of terrorism, “It’s everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.” He said that the threat from terrorism was so severe that some people would “never leave the house” if they knew the truth. Both of these views are, in my opinion, exaggerated and play on the fears of citizens.
- While he was the commander of the Southern Command, he was critical of Barack Obama’s decisions to open combat jobs to women and closing down Guantanamo. He swatted away criticism of inhumane practices in Guantanamo. He also said that the military would be under pressure to “lower standards” for women in combat duty.
- He is a strong supporter of Trump’s hardline immigration policy and of the contentious, conflict-riddled travel ban.
My take on General Kelly is that he is a good person … he has raised three children, all of whom entered careers involving service to humanity in one form or another, and I find no scandal surrounding any of them. He has what, from all reports, is a stable, loving marriage that has survived through many situations that would have torn apart less committed couples. I have concerns, however, about his radical stance on immigration and border security. Nonetheless, those stances are not really at issue in his present position as White House Chief of Staff.
The White House, contrary to what Donald Trump says, is obviously in a state of chaos. There are internal power struggles, so many lies that I have lost count, and the leakers. It would seem that somebody who walks softly and carries a big stick is needed to bring order out of the chaos. Kelly has little experience for the position but … he does have experience in managing groups of people, so perhaps he can make some sense of the garbage heap that resides in the White House.
IF … if he is a good man of conscience, I think that he cannot possibly last more than six months. If he stands by his convictions, his integrity, then it is only a matter of time before he and Trump butt heads and … well … Trump is, for the time being, da boss. Even if that does not occur, my best guess is that within six months Gen. Kelly will tire of the game-playing, the constant lies, the back-stabbing, and the Trump children always getting their way, even when their actions threaten to bring the whole house of cards tumbling down. If Kelly turns out to be less than a man of honour, then he should fit right in, but I do not think this is the case. Though I disagree with his stances on immigration, the terrorist threat, and women in the military, I believe he is a man who tries to follow his conscience and do what he believes is best for the nation.
At the very least, his four decades in progressive leadership roles in the military should stand him in good stead for bringing some order to the White House, although with the current cast of characters, I do not think there will ever be complete cohesion. One can hope that Kelly’s relative sanity remains intact and will at least partly offset the insanity of his boss. Best of luck to General John Kelly … he will need all the luck he can get!