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New US commander takes the helm in Afghanistan
« on: February 10, 2013, 01:59:29 PM »

Feb 10, 1:00 PM EST

New US commander takes the helm in Afghanistan

Associated Press

U.S. Gen. John Allen, left, the outgoing U.S. and NATO- led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) commander in Afghanistan salutes with upcoming U.S. and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force commander in Afghanistan U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford during a changing of command ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013. A new U.S. commander is at the helm of international forces in Afghanistan as Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford takes charge at a critical time for President Barack Obama and the military as foreign combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014. (AP Photo/Omar Sobhani, Reuters, Pool)

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford took charge of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan on Sunday as the coalition enters its final stretch of the more than 11-year-old war.

The new commander faces daunting challenges, including making sure Afghan government forces are ready to take control and orchestrating the withdrawal of foreign forces during the next 23 months.

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Re: New US commander takes the helm in Afghanistan
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2013, 02:37:29 PM »
Thanks for the post, Myst.  Did not realize the change of command took place today.  From what little I have read about him, General Dunford seems to be a "speak softly, carry a big stick" kind of commander.  His men call him "Fighting Joe":

(snip from Reuters)


Dunford, a Boston native, is a 35-year veteran of the Marines. He was commissioned as an officer in 1977 and he served as a platoon and company commander for several years before moving to administrative roles. H e 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.

When officials advanced the timing of the invasion by a day, Dunford had his forces ready to move in three hours. He kicked off the assault with a nighttime crossing of the 10-foot berm and anti-tank ditch separating Iraq and Kuwait, moving in darkness rather than at dawn as initially planned.

"He earned the Fighting Joe title by his actions during Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he led the initial attack into Iraq (crossing the berm on the accelerated timeline) and leading all the way to Baghdad," said General James Mattis, the head of U.S. Central Command, who was Dunford's commander in Iraq.

"He's not flashy, but he's the fighter - one I could always count on when the going got difficult," Mattis said in an email. "He is tactically cunning and does a superb job at setting his subordinate commanders up for success by orchestrating complex battle plans into harmonious actions."

Congressman Duncan Hunter, who served in the Marines in Iraq and occasionally had a chance to interact with Dunford, said the commander was seen as "a decisive leader who was well-respected by subordinates and peers throughout the chain of command."

"In a stressful, combat environment he proved himself to be an accomplished and energetic warrior," Hunter said in an email.

Since the war Dunford has moved rapidly up the chain of command. He became a brigadier general in 2004, was selected to become a major general in December 2007 and then promoted to lieutenant general two months later, before Congress had acted to confirm his second star.

"That in itself will give you an idea of how he was seen in the Marine Corps," said Marine Colonel David Lapan, a spokesman for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who has worked for Dunford and been his neighbor.

He has a "great reputation as a combat commander, as an operational commander, very even-keeled, measured, analytical," Lapan said. While his combat experience is not in Afghanistan, the differences are not that great and he can bring a fresh perspective to the situation, Lapan said.

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