Dunford in September 2015
|Birth name||Joseph Francis Dunford Jr.|
December 8, 1955 |
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1977–present|
|Commands held||Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Commandant of the Marine Corps
International Security Assistance Force
U.S. Forces Afghanistan
Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
2nd Battalion, 6th Marines
5th Marine Regiment
I Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Forces Central Command
|Awards||Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit with Valor
Joseph Francis Dunford Jr. (born December 8, 1955) is a United States Marine Corps General. He is the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was also the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Dunford is the first Marine Corps officer to serve in four different four-star positions; the others include commander of the International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan from February 2013 until August 2014, and as the 32nd Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from October 23, 2010, to December 15, 2012. He has also commanded several units, including the 5th Marine Regiment during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. As Chairman, Dunford is the highest-ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces.
Early life and education
Dunford was born in Boston in 1955, and raised in Quincy, Massachusetts. He is of Irish background and has been described as a "fervent Catholic." He graduated from Boston College High School in 1973 and from Saint Michael's College in June 1977. He earned his commission the month of his college graduation. He is a graduate of the United States Army War College, Ranger School, United States Army Airborne School, and the Amphibious Warfare School. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Government from Georgetown University and a second Master of Arts in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.
In 1978, Dunford served in the 1st Marine Division as a platoon and company commander in 3rd Battalion 1st Marines and a company commander in 1st Battalion 9th Marines until 1981. He served as the aide to the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force for a year, then transferred to the Officer Assignment Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C.. He reported to the 2nd Marine Division in June 1985 and commanded L Company of 3rd Battalion 6th Marines. In 1987, he was reassigned to 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company as the Operations, Plans, and Training Officer.
From 1988 to 1991, Dunford was assigned as the Marine Officer Instructor at the College of the Holy Cross and Officer Candidates School at Marine Corps Base Quantico. In 1992, he was assigned to HQMC as a member of the Commandant’s staff group and subsequently as the Senior Aide to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In 1995, he joined the 6th Marine Regiment as the executive officer, then went on to command 2nd Battalion 6th Marines from 1996 until 1998.
In 1999, Dunford was the executive assistant to the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (under both Generals Joseph Ralston and Richard Myers) and as Chief, Global and Multilateral Affairs Division (J-5) until 2001. He next served in the 1st Marine Division where he was assigned to command the 5th Marine Regiment, then as the division's chief of staff and assistant commander. During this time, he served 22 months in Iraq. During his command of RCT-5 in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" under James Mattis.
From 2005 to 2007, Dunford returned to Headquarters Marine Corps to serve as the Director of the Operations Division of the Plans, Policies and Operations staff, and eventually became the Vice Director for Operations (J-3) at the Joint Staff in 2008. In December 2007, Dunford was nominated for promotion to the rank of major general. Two months later, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that President George W. Bush had nominated Dunford for promotion to lieutenant general and appointment as Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, to succeed LtGen Richard F. Natonski. In April 2008, his appointment to the permanent rank of major general was confirmed by the United States Senate, and he was simultaneously appointed to the grade of lieutenant general for his new assignment.
Dunford served a dual role in his assignment as Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations:
- Is the Operations Deputy (OpsDep) for the Commandant on all Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) matters. Serves as the focal point for the interface between the Marine Corps (as one of the four Services) and the joint and combined activities of the JCS and the unified Commanders-in-Chief, and various allied and other foreign Defense agencies.
- Is responsible for coordinating the development and execution of service plans and policies related to the structure, deployment, and employment of Marine Corps forces in general.
Less than a year into that assignment, Dunford was nominated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to succeed James F. Amos as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, who had been nominated to succeed James Conway as Commandant. President Obama approved his promotion and Dunford assumed the duties and new rank on 23 October 2010.
On October 10, 2012, General Dunford was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. After an investigation into inappropriate communications from the commander in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, was opened, Secretary Panetta requested that General Dunford's nomination be acted on promptly. Dunford assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from General Allen, who had since been cleared in the Pentagon's investigation involving his e-mails in the Petraeus scandal, on February 10, 2013.
On June 5, 2014, General Dunford was nominated by President Obama to be the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. His nomination was confirmed by the Senate on July 23, 2014, and he became Commandant on October 17, 2014. On January 23, 2015, General Dunford released the 36th Commandant's Planning Guidance.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
President Barack Obama nominated Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 5, 2015. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate, and took over from Army General Martin Dempsey on September 25, 2015, and officially took office on October 1, 2015. He serves with Gen. Paul Selva, USAF, former Commander of U.S. Transportation Command, who is the current Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford is the only Marine to have served as Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was nominated for a second term as Chairman by President Donald Trump on May 16, 2017.
Effective dates of promotion
|Major general||Appointed to major general and confirmed by the United States Senate in April 2008. Simultaneously he was appointed Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations in the rank of lieutenant general.|
Awards and decorations
Dunford is the recipient of the following awards:
This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Marine Corps document "Official Biography: Lieutenant General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations".
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- "PN472 — Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. — Marine Corps". U.S. Congress. 16 May 2017. Retrieved 20 May 2017.
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