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N.Y. billionaire, veteran is Trump’s choice for Army secretary

Businessman Vincent Viola, owner of the Florida Panthers Hockey team, served in the 10st Airborne Division. J Pat Carter/Associated Press

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President-elect Donald Trump on Monday tapped another billionaire businessman for an administration job, naming Army veteran and fellow New Yorker Vincent Viola to be his secretary of the Army.

Trump held meetings with businessmen and former US government officials as he sought to fill other posts, including that of US trade representative. He met with Robert Lighthizer, a former deputy US trade representative in the Reagan administration, an official said.

Viola, Trump’s choice to be the civilian head of the Army, is a West Point graduate who joins a list of military men already chosen for the Cabinet. Trump’s picks for defense secretary, homeland security secretary, national security adviser, and deputy national security adviser are retired military.


Viola, 60, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was trained as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and served in the 101st Airborne Division after the Vietnam War. A lawyer, he started multiple businesses and bought the Florida Panthers hockey team for $250 million in 2013.

If he is confirmed by the Senate, Viola will take over as civilian head of an Army struggling to recoup after more than 15 years at war. As secretary, Viola would be responsible for all management, budget, acquisition, personnel, and base issues for a vast network of about 150 permanent installations around the world.

Viola would join a circle of wealthy businessmen Trump has chosen, including fast-food executive Andy Puzder to lead the Labor Department, billionaire investor Wilbur Ross for commerce, and financier Steven Mnuchin as treasury secretary.