New Army Chief of Staff

General Mark A. Milley’s nomination to become the 39th Army chief of staff was approved Wednesday by the Senate, and President Obama nominated an Iraq War veteran to become under secretary of the Army. Milley will succeed GEN Raymond T. Odierno, who will retire after 39 years of service.

GEN Milley told Congress that he believes his 35 years of Army experience qualified him to lead the Army. “I had the honor to lead soldiers in combat as a captain and major along with combat leadership as a brigade commander, division deputy commander and corps commander,” he said to the Senate Armed Services Committee. “With service in Special Forces and conventional units, as well as operational experience in a variety of contingencies around the globe. I have a broad perspective of the Army, its processes and capabilities, and my experience includes operations in the Sinai, Somalia, Panama, Haiti, the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq, along with tours in Korea and Colombia.

Milley’s most recent deployment had him serving as the III Corps commanding general and heading U.S. and multinational forces in Iraq, which he said gave him “the opportunity to apply the full range of Army, joint, combined and coalition capabilities in complex environments on my third tour in Afghanistan while commanding all the ground forces in combat and security force assistance operations. ”The Army, GEN Milley said, “is and must remain the world’s premier ground combat force, capable of conducting sustained campaigns on land to achieve U.S. national security objectives.”

Also, Patrick J. Murphy, the 41-year-old nominee to be Under Secretary of the Army, was the first Iraq War veteran to be elected to Congress, where he championed improvements in the GI Bill and veterans’ employment programs. Defeated for re-election in 2010, he has been working at a Philadelphia law firm and as a fellow at the Center for American Progress, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank that works on progressive policies. Murphy was commissioned through an ROTC program and served two overseas deployments; deploying to Bosnia in 2002, and Iraq in 2003 as part of the 82nd Airborne Division.

If confirmed, Murphy would fill a position currently held by an acting undersecretary, Eric Fanning. It is not clear when the Senate will take up his nomination.