General Dunford will be the second Marine to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Obama isaf afghanistan joseph dunfordAP/ Evan VucciMarine General Joseph Dunford, commander of ISAF, briefs Barack Obama at Bagram Air Field north of Kabul, Afghanistan on May 25, 2014.

President Barack Obama will nominate the second Marine General to serve as the next chairman of the JointChiefs of Staff, the Associated Press reports.

Dunford, commandant of the Marine Corps, would replace Army General Martin Dempsey, who is expected to step down in September as the top military officer after a tumultuous four-year period that saw most U.S. forces withdraw from Afghanistan but thousands return to Iraq.

Nicknamed “Fighting Joe” he has experience in both wars, and before becoming the top Marine general in late 2014, led U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan as they handed over greater responsibility to Afghan troops battling a still-resilient Taliban.

This infographic shows former chairmen and their length in office (via Dadaviz):

In addition, Obama will nominate Air Force General Paul Selva, currently the commander of the U.S. Transportation Command, as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“A formal announcement is expected at the White House tomorrow,” a U.S. defence official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Dunford, a Boston native, is a 38-year veteran of the Marines. He was commissioned as an officer in 1977 and served as a platoon and company commander for several years before moving to administrative roles.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.APIn this March 12, 2014 file photo, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.

He holds two master’s degrees and is a graduate of the elite Army Ranger School.

As the United States moved toward war with Iraq in 2003, Dunford – then a colonel – found himself in the First Marine Expeditionary Force serving as commander of Regimental Combat Team 5, the unit that would lead the U.S. invasion, seize the Rumaila oil fields and then head toward Baghdad.

Dunford’s perhaps most high-profile role was commanding international forces in Afghanistan, juggling efforts to empower Afghans and withdraw American troops despite a strained U.S. relationship with then-Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

His ability to grapple with that difficult transition made him a top contender for the post, as did his time at the helm of the Marine Corps, officials say.

Dunford’s nomination is also likely a reflection that, even as Obama prepares to leave office next year with far fewer troops at war, he will still need a chairman with battlefield experience.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Phil Stewart; Additional reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)

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