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Marine Gen. John F. Kelly: The Right Man To Lead The War On Our Southern Border

President-elect Donald Trump intends to nominate retired Marine Gen. John F. Kelly as his Secretary of Homeland Security. Mr. Trump, according to The New York Times, has not yet formally offered the job to General Kelly, who is out of the country. The president-elect plans to roll out the appointment next week, along with his remaining national security choices, including secretary of state. 

However, some conservatives, who favored Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to head DHS have John F. Kellyquestioned whether Kelly is the right man for the job.  

Homeland Security is the third-largest Cabinet department and oversees security at the nation’s airports and along its borders.  

Its sprawling mandate includes counterterrorism, disaster response, cybersecurity, and border and immigration controls, a broad and somewhat eclectic array of assignments that have discouraged some prospective candidates, according to one person involved in the transition team. The Secret Service, which protects the president, is also part of DHS, noted Gordon Lubold and Damian Paletta writing for The Wall Street Journal

Our friend Rosemary Jenks of NumbersUSA said, “He [Kelly] has given a lot of great statements about the need for border security and he’s very well versed on terrorism and cartels. But we don’t have any idea what he thinks about immigration… that’s a concern.” 

“We have the view that we really need an immigration expert with working knowledge of immigration law and policy,” Jenks said, adding that Kobach better fit that mold. 

Those are fair points, and we admire Kris Kobach immensely, but the illegal alien tsunami and the Obama-induced collapse of our southern border are no longer issues for courts and lawyers. 

The southern border is for all intents and purposes a war zone and that change in status requires a change in attitude and approach to the job of Homeland Security, and General Kelly precisely fits the profile of the kind of leader needed to conduct that war. 

As a wartime commander, General Kelly led troops in intense combat in western Iraq. In 2003, he became the first Marine colonel since 1951 to be promoted to brigadier general while in active combat. 

General Kelly later headed the U.S. Southern Command, and was responsible for a vast area that includes the Caribbean and Central and South America. 

The job of planning and building Trump’s wall between the U.S. and Mexico will likely fall on Homeland Security, and Kelly seems to share Trump’s view of border security — something he would’ve had a unique view of during his time heading up Southern Command. 

In a 2014 interview with Defense One, he described illegal drug trade and the flow of illegal aliens into the U.S. as an existential threat to the nation. 

And, reports Michael Sebastian, in congressional testimony in 2015, Gen. Kelly correctly suggested smugglers could be bringing terrorists into the country.  

“Despite the heroic efforts of our law enforcement colleagues, criminal organizations are constantly adapting their methods for trafficking across our borders,” Kelly told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “While there is not yet any indication that the criminal networks involved in human and drug trafficking are interested in supporting the efforts of terrorist groups, these networks could unwittingly, or even wittingly, facilitate the movement of terrorist operatives or weapons of mass destruction toward our borders.’’ 

During a 2014 hearing, he told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he didn't have the ships or surveillance assets to get more than 20 percent of the drugs leaving Colombia for the U.S. He said he often had "very good clarity" on the drug traffickers, but much of the time, "I simply sit and watch it go by." 

Before retiring, Gen. Kelly testified that the border between Mexico and the U.S. was too loose. “The border is, if not wide open, then certainly open enough to get what the demand requires inside of the country,” he said during congressional testimony reported by The Wall Street Journal

General Kelly started his officer career as a rifle and weapons platoon commander and served various roles thereafter, including as liaison officer to the House of Representatives. Kelly, several former colleagues said, was revered in the Marine Corps for his loyalty, humility and honesty.  

At a news conference at the Pentagon marking the end of his command, General Kelly offered a characteristically frank assessment of what would happen if former Guantánamo detainees re-engaged with terrorism: “If they go back to the fight, we’ll probably kill them. So, that’s a good thing.” 

As Jerry Markon and Dan Lamothe reported for The Washington Post, Kelly has talked in stark terms — much like Trump — about the threats the United States faces in the Middle East and beyond. In speeches, he has expressed frustration with what he calls the “bureaucrats” in Washington, and he described the military’s counterterrorism operations abroad as a war against a “savage” enemy who would gladly launch more deadly attacks. 

“Given the opportunity to do another 9/11, our vicious enemy would do it today, tomorrow and everyday thereafter,” Kelly said in a 2013 Memorial Day address in Texas. “I don’t know why they hate us, and I frankly don’t care, but they do hate us and are driven irrationally to our destruction.” 

To win a war you must first understand you are in a war, General Kelly understands we are in a war on the southern border and he understands how to win it.

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I'll go with the general. The southern border has to be closed like a Marine would close it. Period.