The Air Force Academy announced Monday its May 26 graduation speaker will be Army Gen. Mark A Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Milley is the nation’s highest ranking military officer and a principal advisor to President Joe Biden.

“General Milley has served in numerous command and staff positions as well as several operational deployments throughout his distinguished Army career,” said academy superintendent Lt. Gen. Richard Clark. “Graduating cadets and their loved ones are privileged to have the opportunity to welcome the chairman and hear his thoughts and insights on leadership and service.”

A graduate of Princeton University, Milley, 61, has served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and was the Army's chief of staff before he was elevated to the chairman's post in 2019.

As the military's top officer, Milley has worked to build diversity in the ranks while crushing sexism and bigotry.

"We will collectively take a hard look at how we recruit, retain and promote talent within our services," Milley pledged last year during a speech at the National Defense University. "We must ensure that diverse candidates have equal opportunity to branch into the career fields and serve in the key positions most likely to produce our future senior leaders."

After closing last year's graduation amid the pandemic, the academy is allowing 2021 graduates three guests each. The academy plans to make a decision based on coronavirus figures by April 16 about allowing cadets to invite additional people.

During the graduation in Falcon Stadium, the academy will require guests to follow COVID safety protocols, which include wearing masks, social distancing and assigned group seating.

More graduation information is available here, www.usafa.af.mil

Air Force Academy announces graduation plans

Past graduations have drawn crowds topping 30,000 to Falcon Stadium, including thousands of out-of-town guests who offer an early summer tourism boost to the Pikes Peak region.

The 2021 graduation ceremony will be shown live online at usafa.edu.

WWII veteran seeks the Silver Star for valor

As the newly minted lieutenants throw their caps into the air, the Air Force Thunderbirds flying team will roar through the sky, beginning an air show where the F-16 pilots show off their tight formation flying and aerial displays.

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