Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, has been nominated by the president to be the next commandant of the Marine Corps.

The nomination—subject to confirmation by the Senate—leaves open the question of who will take command of the roughly 50,000 U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan during a pivotal year as the 13-year war comes to an end.

In a statement, Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos called Dunford “one of the most knowledgeable and talented leaders and thinkers in the military today. He has commanded and excelled at every level.” He called Dunford’s service in Afghanistan” extraordinary and is testament to the full measure of the man. Our country and our Marine Corps will benefit greatly from his continued service.”

A graduate of Army Ranger School, Dunford, 58, served as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps under Amos, who took over from Gen. James Conway in October 2010. The position of commandant is a four-year term.

In Dunford took command in Afghanistan in February 2013, after Gen. John Allen retired. A Boston native, he also commanded the 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Dunford earned his undergraduate from St. Michael’s College and was commissioned into the Marine Corps in 1977. He holds an M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy as well as an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University. 

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne