On Monday, President Trump announced via Twitter that Christopher C. Miller would assume the role of Acting Secretary of Defense, following the termination of Mark Esper.
The news came as little surprise to many, as whispers of Esper’s likely departure gained traction throughout last week’s hectic coverage of the 2020 presidential election. For days, rumors circulated that Esper had prepared a letter of resignation, only for Pentagon officials to dismiss those rumors days ago. Now, it seems the rumors were likely true, as President Trump announced Esper’s dismissal on Twitter using the word “terminated.” The president did, however, thank Esper for his service.
According to the President, Christopher C. Miller will immediately take on the role of Active SECDEF (Secretary of Defense), granting him little turnover with the outgoing Esper. Miller previously served as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict, where he was responsible for overseeing a wide variety of special operations missions. Prior to that role, Miller served in the U.S. Army — first as an enlisted infantryman, before earning his commission in 1987. He later went on to serve as a Military Police Officer in the District of Columbia National Guard before transferring to Special Forces in 1993. From there, he served in a number of command and staff positions within the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne).
Miller participated in the initial combat operations in Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003 and completed several subsequent deployments to both theaters in the years that followed. During that time, Miller accrued what the Pentagon has characterized as “extensive inter-agency and joint special operations experience.”
In 2014, Miller retired from the U.S. Army but remained with the Pentagon, serving as a defense contractor tasked with providing his special operations and intelligence expertise to the Under Secretaries of Defense for Intelligence and Policy. In 2018, Miller left the contracting world to rejoin the formal Pentagon ranks as the Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Counterterrorism and Transnational Threats at the National Security Council (NSC). From 2018 to December of 2019, Miller was responsible for supporting strategic-level policy making and ensuring its implementation within that realm.
On January 6, 2020, Miller was appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Combating Terrorism (SOCT), where he remained until November 9 when President Trump announced his new role as Acting Secretary of Defense.
Miller holds a Master of Arts degree in National Security Studies from the Naval War College and is also a graduate of the Naval College of Command and Staff and the Army War College. Miller is married with three children who live in Virginia.