Obama nominates new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

6 May 2015 | Cheryl Pellerin The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website

President Barack Obama nominated Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to serve as the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva to serve as the 10th vice chairman May 5.

During an announcement in the White House Rose Garden, the president said that among military leaders, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to him and his national security team.

Members of that team, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter, were in the audience.

"In recent years, I have been deeply grateful for the service of our chairman, Gen. Marty Dempsey, and our vice chairman, Adm. Sandy Winnefeld. Marty and Sandy will complete their terms later this year," Obama said.

*Navigating Urgent Challenges*

To Dempsey and Winnefeld, the president said he's relied on their advice, counsel and judgment as the nation has navigated the urgent challenges of recent years. Obama also thanked their families for decades of support.

"From ending our combat mission in Afghanistan to leading the international coalition to destroy [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant], conducting humanitarian operations from typhoon relief in the Philippines to fighting Ebola in West Africa, and strengthening our security alliances from Europe to Asia," Obama said. "At every step, you have been critical to our processes, and I have valued not only your counsel but your friendships."

Introducing his choice to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Obama called Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. one of the military's most admired officers.

*"Gen. Joe Dunford*

Dunford has served as commandant of the Marine Corps since Oct. 17, 2014.

Dunford is a Boston native, the son of a retired Boston police officer and Marine veteran of Korea, the president said, adding, "Joe followed in his father's footsteps and has distinguished himself through nearly 40 years of military service."

Dunford has commanded Marines in the field from the platoon level to a Marine expeditionary force. During the invasion of Iraq, he led Marines in the charge to Baghdad, Obama said.

According to a post on MarinesBlog, the official Marine Corps blog, it was in Iraq that he earned the nickname "Fightin' Joe," while serving in 2003 under Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis and leading Regimental Combat Team 5 during the initial invasion.

*'Unvarnished Military Advice'*

"I have been extraordinarily impressed by Joe, from the situation room where he helped to shape our enduring commitment to Afghanistan, to my visit last year to Bagram, where I saw his leadership first-hand," the president said.

"I know Joe. I trust him. He's already proven his ability to give me his unvarnished military advice based on his experience on the ground," Obama said.

Under Dunford's steady hand, the president added, Afghanistan achieved key milestones, including the taking the lead for their own security, historic elections, and the drawdown of U.S. forces, all of which set the stage for the end of the U.S. combat mission there.

Obama thanked Dunford and his wife Ella for their continued service to the nation before introducing his choice to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force Gen. Paul Selva.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter said in a statement released today that Dunford has been an infantry officer at every level, and that Selva has been an innovator throughout his career.

"They're exemplary leaders," Carter added, "and they both have the strategic perspective and operational experience to help guide our military and advise the president at a time of much change in the world."

*Global Security Challenges*

Also in a statement issued today, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said he's known Dunford for nearly half his 39 years of service.

"He is a phenomenal, combat-tested leader and a man of integrity, courage and humility," Dempsey said.

As Obama concluded his remarks, he told Dunford and Selva that the nation continues to call on its armed forces to meet a range of challenges.

"We have to keep training Afghan forces and remain relentless against al Qaida. We have to push back against ISIL and strengthen forces in Syria and build moderate opposition in Syria," he said.

The nation also must stand united with its allies in Europe and keep rebalancing its posture as a Pacific power, and continue to invest in new capabilities to meet growing threats, including cyber attacks, Obama added.

"As commander-in-chief, I'll be looking to you for your honest military advice as we meet these challenges," he said.