Thursday, December 22, 2016
Mr. Viola, a retired Army major and graduate of West Point, is the owner of the National Hockey League’s Florida Panthers, former chairman of the New York Mercantile Exchange and founder of Virtu Financial. He is worth $1.8 billion, according to Forbes, making him one of the 400 wealthiest Americans. He joins a growing list of billionaires selected by Mr. Trump for senior administration positions.
In its statement announcing the selection, the transition office lauded Mr. Viola for working “tirelessly to promote the Army philanthropically in the areas of counterterrorism, cybersecurity and leadership development.” Mr. Viola helped found the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point after the Sept. 11 attacks. The center describes itself as “an important national resource that rigorously studies the terrorist threat and provides policy-relevant research while moving the boundaries of academic knowledge.”
Mr. Trump, in the announcement, described Mr. Viola as “incredibly accomplished and selfless.” If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Viola, 61, would be the Army’s senior civilian leader, succeeding Eric Fanning, the highest-ranking openly gay person at the Pentagon. Mr. Fanning has been helping to guide the country’s largest military service as it undertakes a sweeping integration of women into combat roles and lets openly gay soldiers serve.
Mr. Viola would report to Gen. James N. Mattis, Mr. Trump’s choice for secretary of defense, if the Senate confirms General Mattis, a retired four-star officer in the Marines.
A person familiar with Pentagon appointments for the transition said that General Mattis had reached an agreement with Vice President-elect Mike Pence that the new defense secretary would choose who would fill the top policy jobs at the Pentagon — like under secretary of defense and general counsel — while the White House would select the service secretaries, like Mr. Viola.
Mr. Viola, a native of Brooklyn, graduated from Ranger School and served in the 101st Airborne Division. He holds a degree from New York Law School.
In the statement from the Trump transition team, Mr. Viola called it an “honor” to be chosen and said, “A primary focus of my leadership will be ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.”
Article from the New York Times