Incoming White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly is no stranger to working under pressure, though his new assignment may prove to be a tough challenge.
Appointed for the position on July 28 to replace Reince Priebus after serving only six months as Homeland Security Secretary, Kelly holds the distinction of serving the shortest time in his previous office.
However, prior to civilian government, Kelly was better known as General John F. Kelly, USMC, with a past history and military career just as interesting -if not more so- than his current place in global affairs.
Growing up in Massachusetts, Kelly hitchhiked to Washington at the age of 16 and rode the rails all the way back home- just because he could. Following his first adventure, he served as a Merchant Marine for one year, with his first time overseas involving the transport of 10,000 tons of beer to Vietnam.
When the time came to be drafted, he joined the US Marines, serving honorably until 1972. After four years of college, he attended OCS in 1975 and re-entered the Marines as a second lieutenant. Kelly worked mostly within the Second Marine Division until 1987, when he served as the head of the Offensive Tactics Section, Tactics Group, and Director of the Infantry Officer Course at Quantico, Virginia.
Following his stint in Virginia, he headed to the west coast to head up Camp Pendleton’s 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, where he assisted in the LA riots during his two-year tenure.
Heading back east in 1994, Kelly served in DC until 1999, when he worked in Belgium as the special assistant to the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe.
After the War on Terror reared its ugly head, Kelly deployed to Iraq and by 2003, was the first Marine Corps Colonel in an active combat zone to be promoted to brigadier general since Chesty Puller. During his time in Iraq, he plowed through cities such as Baghdad, Tikrit and Samarra.
Many assignments later, Kelly would serve as the commander of the United States Southern Command and the commanding general of the Multi-National Force West in Iraq from 2008 to 2009.
In a 2014 speech, Kelly addressed his views of the War on Terror:
“If you think this war against our way of life is over because some of the self-appointed opinion-makers and chattering class grow ‘war weary,’ because they want to be out of Iraq or Afghanistan, you are mistaken,” he said. “This enemy is dedicated to our destruction. He will fight us for generations, and the conflict will move through various phases as it has since 9/11.”
In 2016, Kelly hung up his Marine Corps dress cap and retired from service. Less than a year after his retirement, he was called upon to take on his most recent duties. As of July 31, 2017, he has fired at least one person- and will no doubt be striking fear and respect into many who cross his path in The White House.
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