Obama picks republican as Army Secretary

US President Barack Obama named a Republican congressman today to be the next Secretary of the Army, bringing another member of the opposition into his administration.

US President Barack Obama named a Republican congressman today to be the next Secretary of the Army, bringing another member of the opposition into his administration.

Mr Obama said New York Rep John McHugh is "committed to keeping America's Army the best trained, the best equipped, the best land force the world has ever seen".

Mr McHugh will ensure the country's troops can handle the new kinds of combat in the 21st century, including unconventional warfare, the president said.

Mr McHugh has represented northern New York in the House of Representatives since 1993 and is the senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee.

"The Army's always had a special place in my heart," said Mr McHugh, who has also served as co-chair of the House of Representatives Army Caucus and member of the Board of Visitors of the US Military Academy at West Point, New York.

In Congress, Mr McHugh has devoted himself to protecting and expanding Fort Drum in northern New York, home of the Army's 10th Mountain Division.

In recent years, Fort Drum has grown as its soldiers face long deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan, but Mr McHugh and other New York politicians have fought to keep Washington from shutting it down to save money.

Since taking office, Mr Obama has said he wanted to include Republicans in his administration.

If confirmed, McHugh will join US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover from George Bush's Republican administration, at the Pentagon.

Mr Obama also selected former Republican Rep Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary.

The current Army Secretary, Pete Geren, was appointed to the post in 2007 after his predecessor was forced to resign in the aftermath of revelations about poor treatment of wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre in Washington.

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