President Barack Obama will nominate Lt. Gen. Robert “Bob” Neller, a infantry officer who commanded Marines in Iraq, as commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced Wednesday.
Neller, the head of Marine Corps Forces Command, would replace Gen. Joseph Dunford, who has been nominated to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both now await Senate confirmation.
“[Neller has] done a phenomenal job leading the more than 43,000 Marines under his charge,” Carter said at the Pentagon on Wednesday. “Bob is a warrior; he’s a leader, and he’s a statesmen.”
Neller served as the director of operations for the Joint Staff from 2011 to 2012 where he worked with then-Deputy Defense Secretary Carter in the Warfighting Senior Integration Group, an organization that “focused on providing urgent support to our troops in the field, both in Iraq and [in] Afghanistan,” Carter said. The two traveled together to war zones where Carter said he saw Neller’s “outstanding relationship with our troops.”
“He relates to them,” Carter said. “And they light up when he’s talking to them.”
Neller holds a bachelor’s degree in history and speech communication from the University of Virginia as well as a master’s in human resource management from Pepperdine University.
From 2005 to 2007 Neller was deputy commander of Marine Corps forces in Iraq’s Anbar province, the capital of which, Ramadi, has become a key flashpoint in the war against the Islamic State.