Joseph Dunford

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Joseph Dunford
Dunford CJCS.JPG
Dunford in September 2015
Nickname(s)"Fighting Joe"[1]
Born (1955-12-23) December 23, 1955 (age 67)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1977–2019
Commands heldChairman 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
Battles/warsIraq War
War in Afghanistan
AwardsDefense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal (2)
Legion of Merit with Valor

Joseph Francis Dunford Jr. KBE AO MSC OMRI (born December 23, 1955) is a retired United States Marine Corps four-star general, who served as the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from October 1, 2015, until September 30, 2019. He was 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,[2] and as the 32nd Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps from October 23, 2010, to December 15, 2012. He has commanded several units, including the 5th Marine Regiment during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Early life and education[edit]

Dunford was born in Boston on December 23, 1955,[3] and raised in Quincy, Massachusetts. His father served as an enlisted Marine in the Korean War. He is an Irish Catholic,[4] and Red Sox fan.[5]

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.[6] 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.

Military career[edit]

Dunford speaks with 9th Main Jet Base Commander Air Brig. Gen. Kemal Turan before departing Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, 2016.

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, Stephen G. Olmstead, 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.[7]

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.[8] During this time, he served 22 months in Iraq.[9] During his command of RCT-5 in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" under James Mattis.[10]

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.[6] In December 2007, Dunford was nominated for promotion to the rank of major general.[11] 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 Lieutenant General Richard F. Natonski.[11] 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.

On May 1, 2009, the Pentagon announced that President Barack Obama had appointed Dunford to serve as the commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force and Marine Forces Central Command.[12]

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.[13][14] President Obama approved his promotion and Dunford assumed the duties and new rank on October 23, 2010.[15]

On October 10, 2012, Dunford was nominated by President Obama to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.[16] Dunford assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from General John Allen on February 10, 2013.[17]

On June 5, 2014, 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.[18] On January 23, 2015, Dunford released the 36th Commandant's Planning Guidance.[19]

During his tenure, Dunford worked to keep sex-based job assignment policies in place to keep women out of ground combat arms military occupational specialties.[20] On December 3, 2015, Dunford was overruled by Secretary of Defense Ash Carter who announced that beginning in January 2016, all military occupations and positions will be open to women, without exception.[21]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff[edit]

Dunford, right, is sworn in as the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by outgoing chairman Martin Dempsey, left, in a change of responsibility ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall on September 25, 2015.

President Barack Obama nominated Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 5, 2015.[22] 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.[23][24] He serves with General Paul Selva, USAF, former Commander of U.S. Transportation Command, who is the current Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[25] 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.[26][27] His renomination was approved by the Senate on September 27, 2017.[28]

During an event in December 2018, Joseph Dunford criticized Google for its "inexplicable" continued investing in autocratic, communist-led China while simultaneously not renewing further research and development collaborations with the Pentagon. "I'm not sure that people at Google will enjoy a world order that is informed by the norms and standards of Russia or China," Dunford said. Dunford has urged that Google should work directly with the U.S. government instead of making controversial inroads into China.[29][30]

Dunford stepped down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 30, 2019, declining interviews and praising his successor, General Mark A. Milley. Dunford and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had favored Air Force chief of staff General David L. Goldfein as Dunford's successor, but Milley was selected by President Donald Trump instead.[31][32][33][34] Dunford officially retired on 1 November 2019.

Effective dates of promotion[edit]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, meets with Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo, Commander-in-Chief, Indonesian National Armed Forces, at the Pentagon, February 18, 2016.
Dunford inspecting members of the Ceremonial Guard during a visit to Ottawa, February 2018.
Insignia Rank Date
US Marine O1 shoulderboard.svg Second Lieutenant June 8, 1977
US Marine O2 shoulderboard.svg First Lieutenant June 8, 1979
US Marine O3 shoulderboard.svg Captain February 1, 1982
US Marine O4 shoulderboard.svg Major July 1, 1989
US Marine O5 shoulderboard.svg Lieutenant Colonel September 1, 1994
US Marine O6 shoulderboard.svg Colonel October 1, 1999
US Marine O7 shoulderboard.svg Brigadier General January 1, 2005
US Marine O8 shoulderboard.svg Major General August 8, 2008*
US Marine O9 shoulderboard.svg Lieutenant General August 8, 2008*
US Marine 10 shoulderboard.svg General October 23, 2010

* Appointed to Lieutenant General and confirmed by the United States Senate in April 2008. Simultaneously, he was appointed Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations, skipping the rank of Major General. For administrative purposes, his promotion to permanent major general and lieutenant general are on the same date.


Awards and decorations[edit]

Dunford is the recipient of the following awards:

U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia-redone.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
ITA OMRI 2001 GUff BAR.svg 1 golden star.svg
Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation - ISRAEL.svg Darjah Utama Bakti Cemerlang (Tentera) ribbon.png CAN Meritorious Service Cross (military division) ribbon.svg
GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 5 GrVK Stern 218px.svg AUS Order of Australia (military) BAR.svg POL Med 100-lecia ustanowienia SG WP BAR.svg Order of Orange-Nassau ribbon - Commander.svg
Order of the British Empire (Military) Ribbon.svg JPN Kyokujitsu-sho 1Class BAR.svg
USMC Rifle Expert badge.png USMC Pistol Sharpshooter badge.png
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Navy Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal w/ 1 bronze oak leaf cluster Legion of Merit w/ "V" Device Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal w/ 1 gold award star Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 3 gold stars Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Combat Action Ribbon
Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation Joint Meritorious Unit Award w/ 1 bronze oak leaf cluster Navy Unit Commendation Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 bronze service star Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 1 campaign star Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 2 campaign stars Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 6 service stars (1 silver and 1 bronze) Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Grand Officer[36] Military Medal "Fé en la Causa" (Colombian General Command of the Military Forces, Special Class)[37]
Israeli Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation[38] Singaporean Distinguished Service Order (Military)[39] French Legion of Honor, Commander[40][41] Canada Meritorious Service Cross, Military Division
Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Knight Commander's Cross[42] Order of Australia, Honorary Officer (Military Division) Republic of Poland Medal of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces[43] Order of Orange-Nassau, Commander with swords (The Netherlands)[44]
Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (Military division)[45] Order of the Rising Sun, 1st Class Grand Cordon (Japan) NATO Meritorious Service Medal NATO Medal for ISAF
Rifle Expert marksmanship badge (third award) Pistol Sharpshooter marksmanship badge
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

He also earned the U.S. Army Ranger tab. Ranger Tab.svg

Civilian awards[edit]

On April 6, 2016, Dunford was honored with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) "Honor Guard Gala Military Award", which he received "on Behalf of America's Armed Forces".[46] On September 8, 2016, Dunford received the Heroes Award from nonprofit organization Tuesday's Children at their annual Roots of Resilience Gala. He accepted it on behalf of the men and women of the Armed Forces.[47] On July 23, 2018, Dunford received the coveted "Dwight D. Eisenhower" award during a ceremony from the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars). On May 10, 2019, he received the same award from the National Defense Industrial Association.[48] On December 7, 2018, Dunford received the Andrew J. Goodpaster award from the George C. Marshall Foundation.[49]

Dunford was awarded the title of Honorary Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in the Military Division in 2018.[50] He also received Canada's Meritorious Service Cross (MSC) in the Military Division that same year, and accepted the award at the Halifax International Security Forum. In 2020 he was made an Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in the Military Division.[51] While, as an honorary knight, he may not use the title of Sir, he retains the right to use post-nominals for any Commonwealth awards.

Civilian career[edit]

As of February 10, 2020, Dunford joined the board of directors at Lockheed Martin, serving on the Classified Business and Security Committee and Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee.[52] He is also on the board of a New York private equity firm,[53] following a path taken by other prominent retired 4-star officers, such as David Petraeus (who went to work for the global investment firm KKR[54]) and Ray Odierno (who became a senior advisor at JPMorgan Chase).[55] In May 2022, he joined the board of directors at Satellogic, an Argentine satellite company.[56]

See also[edit]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from Official Biography: Lieutenant General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations. United States Marine Corps.

  1. ^ Mohammad Manzarpour (February 21, 2013). "Joseph Dunford: "Fighting Joe" to lead United States out of Afghanistan". BBC News. Retrieved February 21, 2013.
  2. ^ "Leadership: General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr". Kabul, Afghanistan: International Security Assistance Force. Archived from the original on October 18, 2014. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  3. ^ "Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, on Nominations" (PDF). Washington, DC: GPO. 2012. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  4. ^ LOLITA C. BALDOR (May 5, 2015). "5 Things to Know About Gen. Joseph Dunford". U.S. News. Associated Press. Retrieved August 22, 2017.
  5. ^ "5 things to know about Gen. Joseph Dunford". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  6. ^ a b "Brigadier General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Vice Director for Operations, J-3". Arlington County, Virginia: Joint Chiefs of Staff. Archived from the original on October 19, 2008.
  7. ^ Gal Perl Finkel, Back to the ground?, Israel Hayom, November 8, 2015.
  8. ^ Gal Perl Finkel, General Mattis: A warrior diplomat, The Jerusalem Post, December 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Chaisson, Stephanie (June 18, 2007). "Stars and Stripes – Pride in the flag – Quincy continues Flag Day tradition". The Patriot Ledger. Quincy, MA. Retrieved January 7, 2009.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ North, Oliver; Mussler, Joe (2003). War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jenkins, Griff. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing and Fox News. p. 192. ISBN 0895260379. Retrieved June 16, 2010. fighting joe dunford.
  11. ^ a b Johnson, Kimberly (February 24, 2008). "3 tapped for stars". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on 2014-11-03. Retrieved October 18, 2014. (Viewing article requires answering survey or viewing advertisement video)
  12. ^ "U.S. Department of Defense". U.S. Department of Defense.
  13. ^ "Gates pegs Amos to lead Marine Corps". United Press International. June 15, 2010. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  14. ^ Cavas, Christopher P. (June 15, 2010). "Amos expected to be named commandant". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on April 28, 2011. Retrieved June 16, 2010.
  15. ^ " - Messages".
  16. ^ Chandrasekaran, Rijev (October 11, 2012). "In Afghanistan, Marine Gen. Dunford is expected to take command of allied forces". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 18, 2014.
  17. ^ Gen. John R. Allen Exhonerated Washington Post January 23, 2013
  18. ^ "Dunford confirmed as 36th commandant of the Marine Corps". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on July 27, 2014. Retrieved July 25, 2014.
  19. ^ "36th Commandant's Planning Guidance" (PDF). U.S. Marine Corps. 2015.
  20. ^ Marines Commandant Argues Against Women in All Combat Jobs Wall St. Journal September 18, 2015
  21. ^ [1] December 3, 2015
  22. ^ Schogol, Jeff (May 5, 2015). "Dunford tapped for Joint Chiefs chairman, Selva for vice". Military Times. Archived from the original on 2015-07-23. Retrieved May 5, 2015.
  23. ^ "Biographies". U.S. Department of Defense.
  24. ^ "From the Home of the Chairman, Ellyn Dunford (2014)". Facebook.
  25. ^ Selva, McDew confirmed as vice chairman of JCS, head of TRANSCOM[permanent dead link], Jeff Schogol, Air Force Times, July 28, 2015, accessed July 30, 2015
  26. ^ "PN472 — Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. — Marine Corps". U.S. Congress. May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  27. ^ "General Officer Announcement". U.S. Department of Defense. May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  28. ^ "PN472 — Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. — Marine Corps". U.S. Congress. September 27, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  29. ^ "Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military". Reuters. 2018-12-06.
  30. ^ "Gen. Dunford Slams Google's "Inexplicable" Deepened Ties With China As It Cuts Pentagon Projects". Yahoo! News. 2018-12-07.
  31. ^ Rucker, Philip (2020). A very stable genius : Donald J. Trump's testing of America. Carol Leonnig. New York. ISBN 978-1-9848-7749-9. OCLC 1135358000.
  32. ^ "Gen. Dunford, steady force at the Pentagon, gives way to Gen. Milley as new Joint Chiefs chairman". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  33. ^ "Trump chooses new Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, against Mattis wishes". Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  34. ^ Hirsh, Michael. "Mattis Quits Over Differences With Trump". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 2021-04-02.
  35. ^ The Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, 1949-2016 (PDF) (3 ed.). Joint History Office. June 21, 2019. p. 262. ISBN 978-1075301711.
  36. ^ "Grand Officers of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic". Quirinale.
  37. ^ "Dunford Award".
  38. ^ "Dunford receives Israeli Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation". DoD.
  39. ^ "Dunford receives 1st class of Singapore DSO (M)". DoD.
  40. ^ "Dunford Receives French Legion of Honor". DoD.
  41. ^ "Dunford Receives French Legion of Honor from Pierre de Villiers". JCS.
  42. ^ "Dunford Receives Award From Germany, Stresses Importance of Alliances". DoD.
  43. ^ "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Photos > Photo Gallery".
  44. ^ "Dunford receives Dutch Order".
  45. ^ "Honorary British awards to foreign nationals 2020".
  46. ^ "Caring for the Families of America's Fallen Heroes". Archived from the original on 2016-08-13. Retrieved 2016-08-05.. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  47. ^ Ferdinando, Lisa (September 10, 2016). "Dunford Salutes Troops, 9/11 Family Support Groups". U.S. Dept of Defense. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  48. ^ "Dunford Salutes Service Members, Receives Award at VFW Ceremony". U.S. Department of Defense. July 23, 2018.
  49. ^ @thejointstaff (9 December 2018). "#GenDunford received the 2018 Andrew J. Goodpaster award from the @georgecmarshall Foundation on Friday" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  50. ^ "Honorary appointment Joseph Dunford Order of Australia" (PDF). Australian Government. June 26, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  51. ^ "Honorary awards to foreign nationals in 2020". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2021-08-19.
  52. ^ "Lockheed Martin Elects Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to Board of Directors - Jan 24, 2020". Media - Lockheed Martin. Retrieved 2020-01-27.
  53. ^ MacQuarrie, Brian (6 September 2020). "Last year, he was the country's top military officer. Now, he is retired on the South Shore". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  54. ^ "David H. Petraeus | KKR". Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  55. ^ "Bold Leadership Lessons from 39 Years in the Military". JPMorgan Chase & Co. Retrieved 2020-09-08.
  56. ^ "Satellogic Announces Full Year 2021 Financial Results". Satellogic. Retrieved 2022-06-11.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations of the United States Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General of the I Marine Expeditionary Force
Commander of the United States Marine Forces Central Command
Preceded by Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander of the International Security Assistance Force
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Preceded by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded byas former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2011–2015) Order of precedence of the United States
as former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (2015–2019)
Succeeded byas Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff