WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has nominated Marine General Joseph Dunford, Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Speaking Tuesday at the White House, the president said he "trusts" the general. "He has already proven his ability to give me his unvarnished military advice based on his experience on the ground,'' Obama said.
Dunford led the Afghanistan war coalition in 2013-2014 and oversaw the handover of security from NATO to Afghan forces. At that time, controversial Afghan elections stalled efforts to reach a bilateral agreement about the U.S. military footprint in the country.
Known as "Fighting Joe," Dunford has been a leading contender for the chairman's job since becoming the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps in October. He quickly shot up the ranks in his military career, going from a one-star brigadier general to a four-star general in about three years. Normally, generals spend several years at each rank.
Dunford graduated from the U.S. Army Ranger School, Marine Amphibious Warfare School, and the U.S. Army War college. He holds two Master's degrees, one in government from Georgetown University and the other in international relations from Tufts University.
Dunford is expected to be easily confirmed by the Senate. Once confirmed, Dunford will replace current Joint Chiefs chairman Army General Martin Dempsey, who is retiring in October after four years in the post. Dempsey has a reputation of speaking his mind, even if the White House disagrees with his advice. In March, he said defeating the Islamic State terror group might eventually require some ground troops in Syria, an option the White House has adamantly ruled out.
President Obama is also tapping Air Force General Paul Selva to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Selva now leads the U.S. Transportation Command.
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter welcomed President Obama's decision to nominate Dunford and Selva, calling them "exemplary leaders." He said they both have the "strategic perspective" and "operational experience" to help guide the military and advise the president.
Carter also praised General Dempsey and the current vice chairman, Admiral James Winnefeld. He thanked them for their years of service and "their steady leadership in these challenging times."