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 64)
Boston, Massachusetts
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. (born December 23, 1955) is a retired United States Marine Corps 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. 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 at Camp Shorabak, Afghanistan (2013)
Dunford (left) with Ash Carter at Offutt Air Force Base (2016)
Dunford in Times Square after speaking at the United Nations
Dunford speaks with Turkish Air Force 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.

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, Feb. 18th, 2016.

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]

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff[edit]

Dunford, Hulusi Akar and Valery Gerasimov are discussing their nations' operations in northern Syria, March 2017
Dunford inspecting members of the Ceremonial Guard during a visit to Ottawa, February 2018.

President Barack Obama nominated Dunford to be the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on May 5, 2015.[20] 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.[21][22] 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.[23] 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.[24][25] His renomination was approved by the Senate on September 27, 2017.[26]

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.[27][28]

On September 30, 2019, Dunford retired from his post as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declining interviews and praising his successor, General Mark A. Milley.[29] Dunford officially retired on 1 November 2019.

Effective dates of promotion[edit]

Insignia Rank Date
US Marine O1 shoulderboard.svg Second Lieutenant 1977
US Marine O2 shoulderboard.svg First Lieutenant 1979
US Marine O3 shoulderboard.svg Captain 1981
US Marine O4 shoulderboard.svg Major
US Marine O5 shoulderboard.svg Lieutenant Colonel
US Marine O6 shoulderboard.svg Colonel
US Marine O7 shoulderboard.svg Brigadier General 2004
US Marine O9 shoulderboard.svg Lieutenant General 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.
US Marine 10 shoulderboard.svg General 2010

Awards and decorations[edit]

Dunford is the recipient of the following awards:

United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver-service-star-3d.svgBronze-service-star-3d-vector.svg 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 MSC ribbon-military.png GER Bundesverdienstkreuz 5 GrVK Stern 218px.svg
POL Med 100-lecia ustanowienia SG WP BAR.svg Order of Orange-Nassau ribbon - Commander.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 award 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 service star Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 6 service stars Order of Merit of the Italian Republic, Grand Officer[30] Military Medal "Fé en la Causa" (Colombian General Command of the Military Forces, Special Class)[31] Israeli Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation[32]
Singaporean Distinguished Service Order (Military)[33] French Legion of Honor, Commander[34][35] Canada Meritorious Service Cross, Military Division Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, Knight Commander's Cross[36]
Republic of Poland Medal of the 100th Anniversary of the establishment of the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces[37] Order of Orange-Nassau, Commander with swords (The Netherlands)[38] 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".[39] 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.[40] 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.[41] On December 7, 2018, Dunford received the Andrew J. Goodpaster award from the George C. Marshall Foundation.[42]

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.[43]

See also[edit]


 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".

  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". Associated Press. U.S. News. 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. ^ "United States 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. ^
  20. ^ 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.
  21. ^ "General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr".
  22. ^ From the Home of the Chairman, Ellyn Dunford (2014)
  23. ^ 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
  24. ^ "PN472 — Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. — Marine Corps". U.S. Congress. May 16, 2017. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  25. ^ "General Officer Announcement". U.S. Department of Defense. May 19, 2017. Retrieved May 20, 2017.
  26. ^ "PN472 — Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. — Marine Corps". U.S. Congress. September 27, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  27. ^ "Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military". Reuters. 2018-12-06.
  28. ^ "Gen. Dunford Slams Google's "Inexplicable" Deepened Ties With China As It Cuts Pentagon Projects". Yahoo! News. 2018-12-07.
  29. ^ "Gen. Dunford, steady force at the Pentagon, gives way to Gen. Milley as new Joint Chiefs chairman". Stars and Stripes. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  30. ^ "Grand Officers of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic". Quirinale.
  31. ^ "Joint Chiefs of Staff".
  32. ^ "Dunford receives Israeli Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation". DoD.
  33. ^ "Dunford receives 1st class of Singapore DSO (M)". DoD.
  34. ^ "Dunford Receives French Legion of Honor". DoD.
  35. ^ "Dunford Receives French Legion of Honor from Pierre de Villiers". JCS.
  36. ^ "Dunford Receives Award From Germany, Stresses Importance of Alliances". DoD.
  37. ^ "U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Photos > Photo Gallery".
  38. ^ "Dunford receives Dutch Order".
  39. ^ Archived 2016-08-13 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved August 5, 2016.
  40. ^ Ferdinando, Lisa (September 10, 2016). "Dunford Salutes Troops, 9/11 Family Support Groups". U.S. Dept of Defense. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  41. ^ Retrieved July 23, 2018.
  42. ^ Retrieved December 10, 2018.
  43. ^ "Lockheed Martin Elects Joseph F. Dunford Jr. to Board of Directors - Jan 24, 2020". Media - Lockheed Martin. Retrieved 2020-01-27.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
John R. Allen
Commander of the International Security Assistance Force
Succeeded by
John Campbell
Preceded by
James F. Amos
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Robert Neller
Preceded by
Martin Dempsey
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
Mark A. Milley