WASHINGTON - President Obama announced his intention to nominate New York GOP Rep. John McHugh as secretary of the Army yesterday, saying his 16 years of service on the House Armed Services Committee "uniquely qualifies him to help led America's Army."

If confirmed, McHugh would be the third Republican appointed to a senior position in the Obama administration. Former Illinois Rep. Ray LaHood is the transportation secretary, while Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. was recently named ambassador to China.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is a holdover from the Bush administration. Earlier this year, Republican New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg was chosen by Obama to be commerce secretary only to pull his name from consideration citing irreconcilable differences with the administration.

"John understands personally and deeply the sacrifices that our soldiers and their families make every day," Obama said in a statement praising McHugh's qualifications. He added: "As secretary of the army, he will ensure that our soldiers are trained and equipped to meet the full spectrum of challenges and threats of our time - the conventional and the unconventional, the nation state and the terrorist network."

In remarks following the president's, McHugh, who served on the Board of Visitors at West Point and whose Upstate district includes Fort Drum, also noted his personal connections to the Army.

"I grew up in the shadows of Fort Drum," he said. "For the last 20 years I've worked in concert with those men and women of the communities around that great facility in support of the men and women of the 10th Mountain Division. The Army has always had a special place in my heart, and, Mr. President, that's why I so deeply appreciate this nomination."

McHugh has served in Congress since 1993 and is the ranking GOP member of the Armed Services Committee.

John McHugh

Age: 60; born Sept. 29, 1948, in Watertown, N.Y.

Experience: Member,

U.S. House of Representatives since 1993; serves as the leading Republican on the House Armed Services Committee; menber of New York State Senate, 1984-92.

Education: B.A., Utica College of Syracuse University, 1970; M.P.A., SUNY's Graduate School of Public Affairs, 1977.EndText