Image Credits: AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, USMC, Arlington National Cemetery

The cabinet of President Trump is slowly taking shape, and the most recently added department has a new man at its helm. Retired four-star Marine general John F Kelly will oversee the Department of Homeland Security, which was greatest after the devastating terror attacks in September of 2001 and since then has grown to become the third largest Cabinet department. DHS employs over 200,000 individuals. The annual budget of DHS is over $40 billion in 2016.

General Kelly served as the commander of US Southern Command until earlier this year, a position which gave him oversight of American military operations in Central and South America.  This included oversight of operations at Guantanamo Bay. He also led several commands in Iraq and served as an aide to defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Robert Gates. In total, Kelly served over 45 years in the Marine Corps.


Kelly holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Georgetown University, and National Defense University.

General Kelly, unlike many of the recent cabinet appointments, did not endorse President-Elect Trump during the election and instead expressed his willingness to serve in either party’s administration. Kelly is 66 years old. It is not expected that there will be opposition in Kelly’s Senate confirmation. According to people close to the transition, Kelly beat out Texas representative Michael McCaul for the job.

Kelly’s department will be critical in Trump’s plans to secure the border and fight illegal immigration.  In March of 2015, Kelly testified before the Senate about “the relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation’s doorstep” and argued that “terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens”

General Kelly is a Gold Star father. His son Robert was killed in combat in Afghanistan in 2010 when he was only 29. General Kelly is currently the highest ranking military official to have lost a child in combat since 9/11. Robert is buried in Arlington Cemetery.


The mission of the Department of Homeland Security is “With honor and integrity, we will safeguard the American people, our homeland, and our values.” This includes preventing terrorism, securing our borders, carrying out immigrant law, ensuring disaster resilience, and making sure our cyberspace is secure.  

General Kelly will take over for DHS Secretary Jeh Charles Johnson, who appointed by President Obama in December of 2013.

Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member