Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly was nominated for the Secretary of Homeland Security, President-elect Donald Trump announced Monday.
“He is the right person to spearhead the urgent mission of stopping illegal immigration and securing our borders, streamlining TSA and improving coordination between our intelligence and law enforcement agencies," Trump said in a statement.
Kelly was previously the Commander of US Southern Command where he oversaw US military operations in Central and South America and the Caribbean including overseeing operations at the Guantanamo Bay military base.
The 66-year-old lost a son, Marine 1st Lt. Robert Kelly, in Afghanistan 6 years ago and has spoken out about the sacrifices made by military families, the Military Times reported.
“I am humbled and grateful to be nominated to serve in President-elect Trump’s cabinet as Homeland Security Secretary,” Kelly said in a statement. "The American people voted in this election to stop terrorism, take back sovereignty at our borders, and put a stop to political correctness that for too long has dictated our approach to national security. I will tackle those issues with a seriousness of purpose and a deep respect for our laws and Constitution."
Kelly has spoken out about what he thinks is Obama's misguided plan to close the controversial prison at Guantanamo Bay which houses wartime criminals including 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
“The lifestyle they live in Guantanamo is — they can't simply be put in a prison in the United States," Kelly told the Military Times in January, adding that "there are no innocent men down there."
The military has "real" intelligence on every detainee, he said. "They were doing something negative, something bad, something violent, and they were taken from the battlefield. There are a lot of people that will dispute that, but I have dossiers on all of them, built and maintained by the intelligence community, both military and civilian," he said.
Kelly also questioned the Obama administration's policy to fully integrate women in military combat roles, saying the "agenda-driven" move would force the military to "lower standards" in order for women to advance professionally.
"There will be great pressure, whether it's 12 months from now, four years from now, because the question will be asked whether we've let women into these other roles, why aren't they staying in those other roles?" Kelly said at a Department of Defense press briefing in January. "Why aren't they advancing as infantry people -- persons, I guess? Why aren't they becoming, you know, more senior and the answer is, I think will be, if we don't change standards, it will be very, very difficult to have any numbers -- any real numbers come into the infantry, or the Rangers or the Seals, but that's their business."
Citing a study, Kelly said that a "higher percentage of young women" get hurt because of the nature of infantry combat and training.
"So I think it will be the pressure for not probably the generals that are here now, but for the generals to come, and admirals, to lower standards because that's the only way it'll work in the way that I hear some people, particularly, the agenda-driven people here in Washington -- or in the land, the way they want it to work," he said.
This is a developing story, check back for updates.
Jessica Simeone is a news assignment editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Jessica Simeone at email@example.com.
Tasneem Nashrulla is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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