Trump picks retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly to head Department of Homeland Security


NEW YORK/WASHINGTON, Dec 7 (Reuters) - President-elect Donald Trump plans to nominate a third former general for a top job in his new administration with the choice of retired Marine General John Kelly to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

A source familiar with the situation told Reuters on Wednesday that Trump was expected to name Kelly, 66, to head the agency, which oversees border security, but did not elaborate.

RELATED: Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions

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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

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Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

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Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

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Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

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Chief strategist: Steve Bannon

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

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White House counsel: Donald McGahn

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Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

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Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

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Kelly is the former head of the military's Southern Command, where he was responsible for U.S. military activities and relationships in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Kelly retired in January, 2016 after a 45-year military career.

The Republican president-elect, who has no military experience, also plans to nominate retired General James Mattis to lead the Department of Defense and picked retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn to be his national security adviser.

Although Kelly's military experience may give him insight into overseas threats like drug trafficking or Islamist militancy, he would face new challenges at an agency that oversees everything from airport security to protecting against cyber threats and responding to domestic security crises.

In 2015 testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Kelly warned of potentially dire consequences from illegal immigration on the U.S.-Mexico border.

"The relative ease with which human smugglers moved tens of thousands of people to our nation's doorstep also serves as another warning sign: These smuggling routes are a potential vulnerability to our homeland," Kelly told U.S. lawmakers.

More on this story

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Donald Trump's rumored picks for his administration
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Donald Trump's rumored picks for his administration

Trump named Jeff Sessions his pick for U.S. attorney general. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Trump named Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn his pick for National Security Adviser. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Newt Gingrich is rumored to be among Trump's top picks for secretary of state. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Mitt Romney has reportedly been in discussions for secretary of state. 

(Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)

Ted Cruz was believed to be under consideration for Trump's attorney general

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Steven Mnuchin is rumored to be Trump's top pick for Treasury Secretary. (KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
 

Bob Corker is also rumored to be among Trump's picks for secretary of state. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

Stephen Hadley is rumored to be in the running for secretary of defense. REUTERS/Larry Downing

Jim Talent is rumored to also be in the running for secretary of defense. REUTERS/Tim Parker 

Rudy Giuliani was also rumored to be among Trump's top picks for attorney general. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Forrest Lucas is rumored to be Trump's top pick for Interior Secretary. ( Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

Robert Grady is also being eyed for the Interior Secretary position.  REUTERS/Fred Prouser 

Donald Trump Jr. is also said to have interest in the Interior Secretary position. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Sam Brownback is also one of the several names being considered for Agriculture Secretary. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Billionaire Wilbur Ross is a rumored choice for Commerce Secretary. FINANCE-WLROSS/ REUTERS/Tim Chong 

Daniel Dimicco, a Trump Trade Advisor is also on the possible list for Commerce Secretary.  REUTERS/Chris Keane 

Rick Scott is considered to be a top contender for Health and Human Services Secretary.  REUTERS/Joe Skipper/File Photo

Jeff Miller's name has been bounced around many times for the Veterans Affairs Secretary position. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Myron Bell who has been a part of Trump's transition team is rumored to be the top pick for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator position. 

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Representative Tom Price of Georgia is being considered for the position of secretary of health and human services.

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

John Bolton is yet another rumored pick for secretary of state. 

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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"Terrorist organizations could seek to leverage those same smuggling routes to move operatives with intent to cause grave harm to our citizens or even bring weapons of mass destruction into the United States," he said.

Such sentiments may have endeared him to Trump, who warned repeatedly during his presidential campaign of dangers from immigration, and pledged to build a wall along the border and make Mexico pay for it.

Kelly also questioned the Pentagon's decision to allow women to serve in combat, and differed publicly with President Barack Obama over the Democrat's attempt to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.

"There are no innocent men down there," Kelly said of Guantanamo in a January interview with the Military Times newspaper.

The Republican-controlled Senate must confirm Kelly for the Homeland Security post.

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