Christopher C. Miller

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Christopher C. Miller
Christopher C. Miller official portrait.jpg
Acting United States Secretary of Defense
In office
November 9, 2020 – January 20, 2021
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byMark Esper
Succeeded byDavid Norquist (acting)
Director of the National Counterterrorism Center
In office
August 10, 2020 – November 9, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byJoseph Maguire
Succeeded bySteve Vanech (acting)
Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low-Intensity Conflict
In office
June 19, 2020 – August 10, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byThomas Alexander (acting)
Succeeded byEzra Cohen-Watnick (acting)
Personal details
Born
Christopher Charles Miller

(1965-10-15) October 15, 1965 (age 56)
Platteville, Wisconsin, U.S.
Spouse(s)
Kathryn Maag
(m. 1989)
Children3
EducationGeorge Washington University (BA)
Naval War College (MA)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1983–2014
RankUS-O6 insignia.svg Colonel
Unit5th Special Forces Group
Intelligence Support Activity
Battles/warsIraq War
War in Afghanistan

Christopher Charles Miller (born October 15, 1965) is an American retired United States Army Special Forces colonel who served as acting United States secretary of defense from November 9, 2020, to January 20, 2021.[1] He previously served as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center from August 10 to November 9, 2020. Before his civilian service in the Department of Defense, Miller was a Green Beret, commanding 5th Special Forces Group in Iraq and Afghanistan, and later spent time as a defense contractor.

Miller's tenure in the Trump administration began as Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, confirmed by voice vote in the United States Senate on August 6, 2020.[2][3][4] President Donald Trump named him acting defense secretary on November 9, 2020, after firing Mark Esper.[5][6][7][8] Miller, who took office soon after Trump's loss in the 2020 presidential election, was accused of obstructing the transition to Joe Biden's administration by Biden staff.[9]

Miller was also criticized for his response to the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol. He approved the deployment of National Guard troops from neighboring states to reinforce the D.C. National Guard at 4:41 p.m., three hours after Capitol Police said that they were being overrun and two hours after city officials had asked for such assistance.[10][11][12]

Miller was succeeded by then-Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist on January 20, 2021.[13][14]

Early life and education[edit]

Miller was born in Platteville, Wisconsin, on October 15, 1965, and raised in Iowa City from 1975.[15][16] His mother, Lois Maxine Miller,[17][18] taught at the University of Delaware.[16] His father, Harvey Dell Miller, was police chief of Iowa City for 13 years,[19] and according to Miller he "believed strongly in the nobility of public service".[20] He had previously worked as an assistant professor of law and government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.[16]

Miller attended Iowa City High School,[21] before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from George Washington University in 1987. He was awarded the Gardiner G. Hubbard Memorial Award in U.S. History for having the highest grade point average in the history department.[22] He later received a Master of Arts in national security studies from the Naval War College in 2001.[15][23] He also graduated from the College of Naval Command and Staff and the Army War College.[7]

Military service[edit]

Miller served in the military from 1983 to 2014.[3] He started as an enlisted soldier, then was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1987, and then joined the United States Army Special Forces in 1993.[5][24]

He participated in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. In Afghanistan, he was a company commander in the 5th Special Forces Group, which fought al-Qaeda and the Taliban. In Iraq, he commanded Special Forces units in 2006 and 2007.[24] His promotion to colonel was approved in December 2009.[25]

Miller served as program executive officer (PEO) for rotary wing programs at U.S. Special Operations Command in 2010.[26] One of his last assignments as an Army officer was as Director for Special Operations and Irregular Warfare in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low-Intensity Conflict & Interdependent Capabilities at the Pentagon in 2011.[27]

Civilian career[edit]

After retiring in 2014, Miller worked as a defense contractor.[28] Miller served in the civil service as an inspector for the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Intelligence Oversight from late 2017 until he was detailed to the NSC in the Spring of 2018.

From March 2018 until December 2019,[24] Miller served in the Trump administration as a counterterrorism advisor on the United States National Security Council,[29][4] where he worked through and was involved in operations against ISIL.[30]

In 2020, he became deputy assistant secretary of defense for special operations and combating terrorism.[4][7][24] He was involved in designating Iran, Hezbollah, and American domestic terrorism as threats to the United States.[30][31]

On August 10, 2020, he became Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.[30] Trump nominated Miller to the role in March 2020,[31][24] and Miller was confirmed by the Senate by voice vote on August 6.[4][30][2]

Acting Secretary of Defense[edit]

On November 9, 2020, Miller was appointed as Acting Secretary of Defense, following the termination of Mark Esper.[4][32] The top Republican on House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mac Thornberry, expressed concern that the sudden shake-up and installation of leadership at the Pentagon based on political fealty instead of expertise "endanger U.S. national security."[33]

Miller's chief of staff as Acting Secretary of Defense was Kash Patel, a former aide to Congressman Devin Nunes. Patel is known for efforts to discredit investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.[34]

Withdrawals of U.S. forces[edit]

Miller's first overseas trip occurred in the third week of November when he visited multiple military units in the Middle East and Africa to include a three-hour stopover in Mogadishu. Miller said that in addition to meeting senior military and foreign officials, he wanted to visit troops on the Thanksgiving holiday.[35]

In November 2020, the political acting leadership of the Pentagon ordered withdrawals of U.S. Forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia against the advice of U.S. military commanders.[36][37][38] Some were critical of the decision with one group calling it "11th hour of President Donald Trump’s administration, risk serious harm to hard-fought counterterrorism gains and American safety. With these recent moves, Miller appears to be disregarding important lessons about terrorists’ resilience and the value of partnerships when conducting counterterrorism, while embracing a politically expedient but strategically nonsensical notion of “ending forever wars” to appease the president during his final weeks in office."[39] They also pointed to the inconsistency in Miller's message where he claimed that the United States is “on the verge of defeating al-Qa’ida” and noted the need to avoid “our past strategic error of failing to see the fight through to the finish,” while also making the audacious statement that “Now, it’s time to come home.” [39]

Interruption to presidential transition[edit]

In December 2020, it was reported that Miller had ordered the Pentagon to postpone 40 meetings with the incoming Joe Biden administration.[40][41] Miller said that this was a "mutually agreed-upon holiday pause" with the Biden transition, but the Biden transition team said no such agreement had been made.[34] Miller's decision to halt cooperation with the incoming administration came in the wake of President Donald Trump's refusal to concede in the election, refusals by various Trump administration political appointees to cooperate, and claims of fraud by the Trump administration.[40][41][34]

Coup concerns and U.S. Capitol attack[edit]

Miller memo of January 4, 2021

On January 3, 2021, all ten living former defense secretaries raised alarm in an open letter against a military coup to overturn the election results, warning officials who would participate and specifically naming Miller, that they would face grave consequences if they violated the constitution.[42]

According to Miller's later statements, on January 3, Miller was ordered by Trump to "do whatever was necessary to protect the demonstrators" on January 6.[43] The following day, Miller issued orders which prohibited deploying D.C. Guard members with weapons, helmets, body armor or riot control agents without his personal approval.[44] On January 5, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy issued a memo placing limits on the District of Columbia National Guard.[44] Maj. Gen. William J. Walker, the commanding general of the DC National Guard, later explained: "All military commanders normally have immediate response authority to protect property, life, and in my case, federal functions — federal property and life. But in this instance I did not have that authority."[44]

Miller's actions on January 6 also faced scrutiny.[45] After rioters breached the Capitol Police perimeter, Miller waited more than three hours before authorizing the deployment of the National Guard.[46][45] Miller didn't provide that permission until 4:32 pm, after assets from Virginia had already entered the District and Trump had instructed rioters to "go home".[47][46][45]

Comments about Russia and US Department of Defense[edit]

In a January 14 interview, Miller made a number of statements that "raised eyebrows" among the National Security press.[48][49] Miller praised Russia's capabilities, saying "professionally I’m like, wow, they’re doing pretty well, and they’re using a lot of irregular warfare concepts, information, all this stuff, in a way that, you know, like... good on them."

Miller openly derided major Pentagon programs and strategies and declared that he could "not wait to leave the job." He derided the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter[50] and criticized efforts to develop 5th and emerging 6th generation fighter aircraft:[48][51] He ended his comments with criticism of Department of Defense efforts to modernize innovation and acquisitions opining "a lot of people just want to continue doing the same old thing again and again. I think that’s the definition of insanity, isn’t it? Oh, did I say that out loud?"[49][52]

Personal life[edit]

Miller married Kathryn Maag Miller on September 16, 1989.[21] She works as an office manager for a health and environment lobbying group.[15] They have three children.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Christopher C. Miller > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Biography". defense.gov. March 3, 2021. Archived from the original on January 2, 2021. Retrieved March 3, 2021.
  2. ^ a b "PN1741 - Nomination of Christopher C. Miller for Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 116th Congress (2019-2020)". www.congress.gov. August 6, 2020. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Christopher Miller, Director of NCTC" (PDF). August 10, 2020. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e Beavers, Olivia (November 9, 2020). "Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper". TheHill. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  5. ^ a b Cooper, Helene; Schmitt, Eric (November 9, 2020). "Trump Fires Mark Esper, His Defense Secretary". The New York Times. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  6. ^ "Director NCTC". Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c "Christopher C. Miller". United States Department of Defense. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  8. ^ @realDonaldTrump (November 9, 2020). "I am pleased to announce that Christopher C. Miller, the highly respected Director of the National Counterterrorism Center (unanimously confirmed by the Senate), will be Acting Secretary of Defense, effective immediately." (Tweet). Retrieved November 9, 2020 – via Twitter.
  9. ^ "Biden accuses US defence department of obstruction on transition". BBC News. December 29, 2020. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  10. ^ Gurman, Scott Calvert, Nancy A. Youssef and Sadie (January 10, 2021). "In Capitol Riot, Communications Between Agencies Hampered Forceful Response". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
  11. ^ "Did Trump Defense Secretary 'Disarm' DC National Guard Before Insurrection?". Snopes. Retrieved August 24, 2021.
  12. ^ "Timeline for December 31, 2020 - January 6, 2021" (PDF). Office of the Secretary of Defense. January 8, 2021. Archived from the original (PDF) on January 9, 2021. Retrieved January 10, 2021.
  13. ^ Vella, Lauren (January 20, 2021). "Trump administration official Norquist sworn in as acting Pentagon chief". TheHill. Retrieved January 20, 2021.
  14. ^ https://www.nationalmemo.com/miller-disarmed-national-guard
  15. ^ a b c "Questionnaire for Completion by Presidential Nominees" (PDF). U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. United States Senate. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  16. ^ a b c Mullendore, Jim R. (September 3, 1975). "New police chief tells philosophy". Iowa City Press-Citizen. p. 1. Archived from the original on November 16, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  17. ^ "Neighbors". Iowa City Press-Citizen. August 29, 1984. p. 32. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  18. ^ "Neighbors". Iowa City Press-Citizen. March 2, 2001. p. 23. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  19. ^ "7 apply to be county supervisor". Iowa City Press-Citizen. December 31, 1988. p. 9. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  20. ^ "Talk 2020: What Did the Candidates Say?". Washington Street Journal. July 22, 2020. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  21. ^ a b "Marriage of Maag". Iowa City Press-Citizen. September 19, 1989. p. 15. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  22. ^ "Neighbors". Iowa City Press-Citizen. June 3, 1987. p. 36. Archived from the original on November 12, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  23. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Announces Intent to Nominate Individual to a Key Administration Post". whitehouse.gov. Archived from the original on January 20, 2021. Retrieved November 9, 2020 – via National Archives.
  24. ^ a b c d e "Christopher Miller, Trump's surprise acting defense secretary, has a thin resume for the job but deep experience in counterterrorism". Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  25. ^ "PN1175 — Army". December 3, 2009. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  26. ^ Miller, COL Chris (June 23, 2010). "Rotary Wing" (PDF). U.S. Special Operations Command. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  27. ^ Miller, Colonel Christopher (February 14, 2011). "Adapting SOF for Defense, Diplomacy, and Development Operations" (PDF). U.S. Department of Defense. Archived (PDF) from the original on November 28, 2020. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  28. ^ "Defense Sec. Mark Esper Ousted by Trump". spectrumlocalnews.com. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  29. ^ Cooper, Helene; Schmitt, Eric (November 9, 2020). "Trump Fires Mark Esper, His Defense Secretary". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  30. ^ a b c d "Trump Ousts Defense Chief Esper Who Balked at Loyalty Demand". Bloomberg.com. November 9, 2020. Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  31. ^ a b "Trump plans to nominate Special Forces veteran to head counterterrorism center amid uncertainty about its future". Archived from the original on November 9, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  32. ^ Cloud, David S. (November 9, 2020). "Esper's firing raises concerns about Trump's plans for the Pentagon in final weeks". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 11, 2020. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  33. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  34. ^ a b c Kaplan, Thomas (December 29, 2020). "Biden Admonishes Trump Administration Over 'Obstruction'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved December 29, 2020.
  35. ^ Schmitt, Eric (November 28, 2020). "Ahead of Expected Cuts in Troops, Pentagon Chief Makes a Visit to Somalia". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved November 29, 2020.
  36. ^ Seligman, Lara. "White House tells Pentagon to begin planning Afghanistan, Iraq drawdowns". POLITICO. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  37. ^ "Trump to reduce troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq by mid-January". ABC News. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  38. ^ "Trump orders most US troops out of Somalia". ABC News. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  39. ^ a b "Pentagon Moves Undermine Counterterrorism Strategy". Just Security. January 5, 2021. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 6, 2021.
  40. ^ a b Lamothe, Dan. "Trump administration and Biden team at odds about presidential transition in the Pentagon". Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved December 19, 2020 – via www.washingtonpost.com.
  41. ^ a b Mike Allen, Jonathan Swan (December 18, 2020). "Acting Pentagon chief halts Biden transition briefings". Axios. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved December 18, 2020.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  42. ^ Carter, Ashton (January 3, 2021). "All 10 living former defense secretaries: Involving the military in election disputes would cross into dangerous territory". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 6, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  43. ^ https://www.newsweek.com/trump-told-christopher-miller-do-whatever-necessary-protect-demonstrators-ahead-capitol-riot-1590993
  44. ^ a b c https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/dc-guard-capitol-riots-william-walker-pentagon/2021/01/26/98879f44-5f69-11eb-ac8f-4ae05557196e_story.html
  45. ^ a b c "Trump's Pentagon chief attributes Capitol breach to 'organized conspiracy'".
  46. ^ a b "Former acting defense secretary testifies".
  47. ^ "Propublica Capitol Videos 12:53". Archived from the original on January 24, 2021. Retrieved January 24, 2021.
  48. ^ a b Clark, James (January 15, 2021). "'I can't wait to leave this job' — Acting Defense Secretary Miller has zero f--ks left". Task & Purpose. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  49. ^ a b "Press Gaggle With Acting Secretary Miller En Route to Washington, D.C." United States Department of Defense. January 14, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  50. ^ Tucker, Patrick (January 15, 2021). "'A Piece of...' Outgoing SecDef Blasts Expensive Programs". Defense One. Retrieved January 17, 2021.
  51. ^ "I said ‘what are you flying?’ Said ‘F-35,’ I was like that’s a piece of…and he was like…and he laughed, and I was like, ‘no seriously, tell me about it,’ and he was an F-16 guy, F-35, he said ’unbelievable aircraft,’ I’m not…I…that investment, for…that capability, that we’re never supposed to use, ‘well, we have to deter, blah blah bluh blah…Are we fifth generation? You know we…I think it’s hilarious, you know, right now, you know, ‘well we need to invest in the sixth generation,’ I’m like, we have created a monster, but you know that.
  52. ^ Ciralsky, Adam. ""The President Threw Us Under the Bus": Embedding With Pentagon Leadership in Trump's Chaotic Last Week". Vanity Fair. Retrieved January 23, 2021.

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
United States Secretary of Defense
Acting

2020–2021
Succeeded by