WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump oversaw the swearing-in of the highest-ranking military officer in the nation on Monday.
Army Gen. Mark Milley was confirmed by the Senate in July to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chairman serves as the principal military advisor to the president.
Outgoing Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, who took the role of chairman in 2015, swore in Milley during a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Virginia. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were in attendance.
"We will remain the world's premier fighting force, respected by our friends and feared by our adversaries," Milley said during his remarks, adding thanks to Trump for his leadership.
"I know I have big shoes to fill. I have known Joe Dunford throughout my career, served with him in combat, and I consider him a close personal friend — a friendship forged with the unbreakable bonds of combat that only shared sacrifice can produce," Milley said of his predecessor.
Milley's ascension comes at a particularly tumultuous time as the Trump administration seeks to address Iranian aggression in the Middle East and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and to counter emerging competitors such as Russia and China.
"No enemy on Earth can match the awesome might of the American Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and the United States Marines," Trump said during his remarks, praising the defense-friendly spending budgets his administration has passed.
"We have spent $2.5 trillion, far more than this country has ever thought of spending. But we had to have a modern, great military with the most magnificent and the finest machinery, planes, boats, ships, weapons of all kinds," Trump said.
In March, the Pentagon requested a colossal $718 billion in its fiscal 2020 budget, a $33 billion — or about 5% — increase over what Congress enacted for fiscal 2019.
The current measure, if passed by the Senate and signed into law by Trump, would give the Pentagon a topline of $738 billion for fiscal year 2020. Congress has until Oct. 1 to agree on the deal or negotiate a new one with the White House.
"Seven thirty-eight's a good number," Esper said in July when asked about the measure. "And I think to the degree we have predictability, to the degree that we can avoid [continuing resolutions], those things allow us to plan and make more efficient use of our dollars. So I'm good with those dollars."
"No complaints," Esper added.