WASHINGTON, December 19, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump is continuing to fill out his Pentagon staff and announced that NHL Panthers owner and New York financial mogul Vincent Viola will be the next secretary of the Army. President-elect Trump released a statement announcing his decision.
“Whether it is his distinguished military service or highly impressive track record in the world of business, Vinnie has proved throughout his life that he knows how to be a leader and deliver major results in the face of any challenge,” Trump said in a statement.
One of Trump’s goals as president is to increase the size of the nation’s military. Viola is a graduate of West Point and veteran of the Army. Viola served as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer as well as serving in the 101st Airborne Division. He is currently the owner of the Florida Panthers NHL team. Upon confirmation by the Senate, Viola will hand ownership of the team to his family.
Viola has said his focus will be on “ensuring that America’s soldiers have the ways and means to fight and win across the full spectrum of conflict.” Trump praised Viola as a man of integrity and strategic vision with the power to motivate others. Viola’s wealth has been estimated to be $1.8 billion, making him one of the wealthiest Americans alive. Forbes ranked him at N. 374 out of 400, in 2016.
If confirmed, Viola will replace current Army secretary Eric Fanning, the first openly gay individual to serve as Army secretary. Trump’s announcement comes the same day as the electoral college votes for president. Despite spending the last 20-30 years in business, he is highly regarded in the military world after his role in launching the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point in 2002.
Viola is also focused on bringing innovative technology to the military, and has encouraged the military to buy off-the-shelf equipment, instead of building everything from scratch.
Trump continues to nominate people who may be seen as “off-the-wall” candidates, but shows that he believes in thinking out of the box and picking people who are not tied up in political favors or interests.