After serving as an adviser to President Trump, the chairman of the U.S. Military Joint Chiefs of Staff will talk about the challenges facing America at Duke University’s Page Auditorium on Friday.

Peter Feaver, director of the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy and professor of political science and public policy at Duke, will interview General Mark A. Milley and Milley will take questions from the audience and media at the end of the talk.

“As the top general in the United States, Gen. Milley is at the forefront of addressing today’s most pressing national security challenges,” Feaver said a press release from Duke News. “His service for the past 40 years and his current assignment has made him one of the most influential voices in protecting American interests abroad and preparing the U.S. military to meet current and future threats. We are very fortunate he is coming in person to talk with us.”

Milley was at the center of at least two of the many perverse signature moments of the Trump presidency.

There was the infamous photo-op on June 1 during the George Floyd protests in Washington, D.C. when President Trump had demonstrators tear gassed, then summoned Milley, along with former Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former U.S. Attorney General William Barr, to stroll with him down Lafayette Square to stand in front of St. John’s Church, where he piously held a Bible upside down.

It was widely reported that Milley (who later apologized) immediately after the spectacle said in disgust that he was “fucking done with this shit.”

Not quite. 

Mindful of U.S. security, the nation’s top military commander called China’s military leader last October, during the closing days of the Trump presidency, to offer secret assurances that America would not launch an attack against Beijing. A second call took place two days after the January 6 attack in the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters.

Milley, who is the principal military adviser to the president and the secretary of defense and the National Security Council, will engage in a moderated conversation “focusing on the challenges and opportunities he sees confronting the United States in the current era,” Duke officials said.

Before he became chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in October 2019, Milley served as the 39th chief of staff in the U.S. Army, according to the release. He has held multiple command and staff positions in eight divisions and Special Forces throughout the last 40 years, including command of the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division; the 2nd Brigade, 10th Mountain Division; deputy commanding general, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); commanding general, 10th Mountain Division; commanding general, III Corps; and commanding general, U.S. Army Forces Command.

The event is part of the season’s fall 2021 Ambassador Dave and Kay Phillips Family International Lecture. It begins at noon and is free and open to the public. However, tickets are required and are available online.

Support independent local journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle. 

Follow Durham Staff Writer Thomasi McDonald on Twitter or send an email to