The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump had not formally announced Kelly for the job yet, in part because he was out of the country. CBS News confirmed that Kelly had accepted Trump’s offer while traveling abroad in Europe.
Kelly is the third general tapped for the highest levels of Trump’s administration, along with retired Marine Gen. James Mattis at Defense and retired Army Lt. Gen Michael Flynn as Trump’s national security adviser. Retired Army Gen. David Petraeus has also been openly considered by Trump to be his secretary of state.
Kelly retired from his post as commander of U.S. Southern Command, a position in which he oversaw U.S. military operations in the Caribbean and South and Central America, earlier this year. Previously, he was the top Marine in Iraq and served as an aide to defense secretaries Leon Panetta and Robert Gates.
Kelly is also the highest ranking American military official to lose a child in combat since 9/11: His son, Marine Lt. Robert Michael Kelly, was killed in Afghanistan after stepping on a land mine in 2010.
As secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, an agency created after 9/11 to coordinate antiterrorism, border security, cybersecurity, and other functions, Kelly would govern a vast organization of over 240,000 employees.
With oversight of Immigrations and Customs and Enforcement and Customs and Border Security, Kelly would play a key role in fulfilling Trump's campaign promise to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
Other agencies under the DHS umbrella include the Coast Guard, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Secret Service and Transportation Security Administration, among others.
Though Kelly was seen as a frontrunner for the position recently, other options reportedly considered by Trump included Rep. Michael R. McCaul (R-TX), Trump advisers Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and ousted Maricopa County, Arizona, sheriff Joe Arpaio, according to the Washington Post.