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Obama Nominates Marine Commandant As Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff

President Barack Obama is expected to tap Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, leaving the Marine Corps without a commandant after only a year.

According to U.S. officials, current chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey will step down later this fall, following an announcement on Tuesday at the Rose Garden, the Washington Post reports.

Dunford has served as commandant of the Marine Corps since last October, and it’s still unknown who will fill Dunford’s slot.

At 59, Dunford brings a strong record to the table. In three short years, he jumped from a one-star general to four stars. In 2003, he was commander of the 5th Marine Regiment during the war in Iraq. Obama appointed him as commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in 2009. He commanded the Afghanistan war coalition through 2013-2014, a crucial transitional period, serving as the top U.S. and NATO general. With masters degrees from both Georgetown and Tufts universities, Dunford has a strong intellectual core.

The challenges for the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are clear. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, a continued assault against the Islamic State, an increasingly aggressive Russia and the military ascendance of China top the next agenda.

“What makes him attractive is that he’s a ground leader, and we’ve still got ground wars going on,” an anonymous administration official told the Washington Post.

Perhaps most crucially, Dunford will be tasked with the job of advising Obama on the role of 3,000 U.S. soldiers currently assisting Iraqi forces with training in the fight against ISIS. The possibility of expanding operations remains open. Continued airstrikes have proven successful, but ISIS is putting up a determined struggle.

The Senate will still need to confirm Dunford before he takes up the post, but GOP Sen. John McCain, chairman of the Armed Services Committee, which hears nominations, has previously commended Dunford’s service.

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