SecDef Nominates Man Who Charged Bergdahl With Desertion To Lead US Army
President Barack Obama nominated Gen. Mark A. Milley, the man who charged Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl with desertion, for chief of staff of the Army, and Adm. John M. Richardson for the post of chief of naval operations.
The two men occupying the positions, Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, respectively, have already served four years and are set to retire later this year, Army Times reports.
Ash Carter made the official announcement on Wednesday. While most observers were unsurprised by Richardson’s nomination, it wasn’t clear who would be tapped for chief of staff of the Army until the last moment.
Milley’s background as an infantry officer is notable. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan. As head of Army Forces Command, Milley authorized desertion charges against Bergdahl, the controversial figure who allegedly abandoned his patrol base in Afghanistan on June 30, 2009, and was subsequently held by the Taliban for five years. He was then freed after a prisoner swap: five Taliban leaders from Guantanamo Bay were released in exchange for Bergdahl, whose hearing is set for July 8.
“I was impressed by his candor and good judgment, and I knew right away that the had even more to offer to the United States Army,” Carter said, referring to how Milley handled the attack against the U.S. consulate in Afghanistan on Sept. 13, 2013.
Analysts already seem to think the Bergdahl issue will come up during Milley’s Senate confirmation hearing.
According to Carter, Adm. Richardson is the right for man for chief of naval operations, having served as head of the Navy’s nuclear program since 2012. Richardson also led an investigation of the shooting at Washington Navy Yard by a defense contractor which left 12 people dead and 3 others injured. Police took down the gunman in a back-and-forth shooting match.
“He’s a bold thinker, a tremendous leader, and the go-to officer for many of the Navy’s tough issues in recent years,” Carter stated.
This latest announcement comes just a week after Obama’s move to nominate Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford for the position of chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (RELATED: Obama Set To Tap Marine General For Highest-Ranking Military Post)
Dunford is a protégé of retired Gen. James Mattis, who, curiously, the White House seems to hate because of long-standing differences with the president’s security advisers on Iran. In revenge, the Obama administration decided to announce Mattis’ retirement— six months in advance and without notifying him. Mattis first heard of the news via Tom Ricks, a defense journalist with Foreign Policy.
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