Trump Picks Boston’s Gen. John F. Kelly for Homeland Security Chief

The four-star general lost a son in Afghanistan.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

President-Elect Donald Trump has selected retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, a Boston native, to head the Department of Homeland Security.

Kelly, 66, would be tasked with overseeing border security, the hallmark of a Trump campaign that called for the erection of a massive wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, financed by Mexico. Following a 45-year military career, which saw him lead military operations in Latin America and the Caribbean as head of the Southern Command under President Barack Obama, Kelly retired in January.

Kelly was born and raised in Boston, and graduated from UMass Boston in 1976. In 2010, he became the highest-ranking military officer to lose a son or daughter in Iraq or Afghanistan, when his son Lt. Robert Michael Kelly stepped on a mine in Afghanistan.

“If there’s a country and it’s dangerous and we deploy a U.S.military man or woman, if there’s only one there, and they never leave the capital, that is ‘boots on the ground,’” Kelly told Defense One in January. “We do a disservice to the sacrifice of these people, particularly if they are killed, when we say there’s no boots on the ground.”

Kelly is the third ex-general nominated to Trump’s Cabinet, following Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn as national security adviser and Gen. James  “Mad Dog” Mattis as defense secretary. He has publicly questioned women’s fitness to served in the armed forces, and said “there are no innocent men” in Guantanamo Bay.

Kelly’s appointment requires confirmation from the Republican-controlled Senate next year.