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'Dude's legit': Acting SecDef Chris Miller is well known to elite ranks of Army Special Forces

Miller and other Green Berets, many riding horses, went deep into Taliban territory to seek and destroy the enemy after 9/11. "I was in the field," Miller said. "I was in the street."

Updated: November 13, 2020 - 9:24am

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When Christopher Miller on Monday took his post as acting defense secretary to replace the newly fired Mark Esper, many throughout the United States and abroad knew nothing about the new Pentagon chief. Miller is well known in military circles, though, particularly among the elite ranks of Army Special Forces.

"The dude's legit," one long serving member of the special operations community told Just the News. "Everyone loves him." 

Miller, 55, is known among his Special Forces peers for his part in a secret mission in Afghanistan immediately following the 9/11 attacks. He and other Green Berets, many of them riding horses, went deep into Taliban territory to seek and destroy the enemy.

"Thanksgiving Day, 2001 I took the last group over from Fifth Special Forces Group," Miller said during an October event for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "On the fifth of December we had a friendly fire incident in southern Afghanistan with Hamid Karzai who was there. And I went in to replace the element that had been destroyed."

The mission, which was immortalized in the 2018 film, "12 Strong," helped him to understand the human dimension of current operations, Miller said.

"I was in the field," Miller said. "I was in the street."

Aside from his fame among his Special Operations brethren, Miller is known within the defense community as an intellectual with direct experience in recent conflict zones.

"You've got a really distinguished career, including on the ground," said moderator Seth Jones in October when introducing Miller for the CSIS event. At the time, Miller was director of the National Counterterrorism Center, which falls within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. 

Noting that not many Americans are aware that the U.S. continues to fight al-Qaeda, Jones asked Miller to discuss the threat from the longtime adversary.

"Al-Qaeda started this war," Miller said. "We're still at war." The fight is not in the news as often as it was in 2001-2002, he noted, but that was the defense community's aim. "We wanted to be in a place where we could — where we could think logically and strategically about this."

Miller began his military career as an enlisted Infantryman in the Army Reserve in 1983, and also served in the District of Columbia National Guard, according to the Pentagon. In 1993, he transferred to Special Forces, and held a number of command and staff positions within 5th Special Forces Group, which is based at Fort Campbell, Ky. He retired from the Army in 2014, and spent more than two years as a defense contractor providing clandestine Special Operations and Intelligence expertise directly to the Under Secretaries of Defense for Intelligence and Policy.

While some have objected to the timing of Miller coming in to lead the Pentagon so soon after the Nov. 3 election, Green Berets from 5th Group especially are cheering the appointment with gleeful humor, joking on Twitter that the unit now runs the Pentagon. 

"The only downside is, he may only be in the position for a short time, depending on how the election goes," said the special operations community member.

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