President Obama was expected to nominate Marine Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, marking a rapid ascension to the military's top post by the 59-year-old Dunford.
Obama was expected to announce his nomination of Dunford Tuesday at the White House to succeed Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as the top uniformed officer in the military, according to the Associated Press and the Wall Street Journal.
Dunford, a Boston native and an infantryman who led Regimental Combat Team-5 under Gen. James Mattis in the 2003 Iraq invasion, has served as the Marine Corps commandant since October. He was the U.S. and NATO commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan before Obama tapped him as the top Marine officer.
Dunford was considered a White House favorite after overseeing the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan following the stormy tenures at ISAF of Army Gens. Stanley McChrystal and David Petraeus.
Dempsey will be stepping down after four years as JCS Chairman that have seen the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and turmoil across the Mideast, along with ferment in Europe brought on by Russian aggression in Eastern Ukraine as the U.S. military has tried to rebalance forces to the Pacific to counter the rise of China.
Dunford has sailed through his previous confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee with no suggestion of any concerns as to his personal integrity or competence as a commander.
However, Senate Republicans were expected to use the hearings as a vehicle for attacking Obama's policies, particularly on Iran.
Others who were considered to be on the short list for JCS Chairman were Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Adm. Samuel Locklear, head of the Pacific Command.
However, both the nominations of Welsh and Locklear would have faced contentious confirmation hearings – Welsh over his push to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt ground attack aircraft, and Locklear over the Glenn Defense Marine Asia corruption scandals that have ensnared several officers in his command.
-- Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com