US Marine Gen.Joseph Dunford Jr is likely to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff succeeding Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, Associated Press reported today.
“US president Barack Obama is likely to make the announcement at the White House Tuesday and Dunford is expected to be easily confirmed by the US senate,” the agency quoted unnamed US officials as saying on condition of anonymity as they weren’t authorized to speak publicly before the announcement is made.
Dunford has served as the commandant of the US Marine Corps since last October. Gen Paul J. Selva, a top Air Force officer is likely to be chosen as the vice chairman.
Dunford began his career as an infantry officer and has commanded at all levels. He served nearly two years in Iraq, including as head of the Marines’ 5th Regimental Combat Team during the 2003 invasion, where he earned the nickname “Fighting Joe.”
He is well-connected internationally, often meeting with NATO and other coalition leaders, particularly during his Afghanistan command. His selection signals that even as the US puts more focus on Asia and looks ahead to high-tech cyber and space threats, the administration still believes a strong ground force commander is needed to work through the ongoing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and across the Middle East and Africa.
If confirmed, Dunford would be only the second Marine to serve as chairman. Gen. Peter Pace, the first Marine chosen as chairman, served one two-year term from 2005 to 2007, but was not renominated by then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates because the Pentagon chief feared a long, difficult Senate hearing focusing on the sharp divisions over the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Dunford’s most visible role came in 2013 when he was chosen to take over the job as top US military commander in Afghanistan. During his 18 months there, Dunford oversaw the ongoing drawdown of US troops, the transition to Afghan military lead in combat operations, and the tumultuous Afghan elections that dragged on and stalled efforts to reach an agreement on the U.S. military’s future presence in the country.
He left Afghanistan last August, preparing to take on his new role as commandant.