Yesterday, the White House announced its nominees for the next top uniformed military officers — one I personally know, and am pleased to see get the nod.As reported by Military Times, “President Obama on Tuesday nominated Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford to become the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS). “I know Joe. I trust him,” Obama said in the Rose Garden as Dunford stood at his side. “Joe is a proven leader of our joint force, including our troops in Afghanistan whom he served Christmas dinner to. He is one our military’s most highly regarded strategic thinkers.” Obama also tapped Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the chief of U.S. Transportation Command, to serve as the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Obama highlighted Selva’s role earlier in his administration when the Air Force general served as the top military adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “He grasps the strategic environment in which our forces operate,” Obama said of Selva. “He understands our military, as powerful as it is, is one tool that must be used in concert with all of the elements of our national power.”
Now, I have to address a little pet peeve here. I believe President Obama should have addressed these two men by their titles — General — especially in a public event announcing them as the top military leaders.
“Joe, Paul, we continue to call on our armed forces to meet a range of challenges,” Obama said. “We have to keep training Afghan forces and remain relentless against al-Qaida. We have to push back against ISIL and strengthen forces in Syria. “We have to stand united with our allies in Europe and keep rebalancing as a Pacific power. We have to keep investing in new capabilities to meet growing threats including cyber attack,” Obama said.
I had the pleasure of speaking with General Dunford when he was the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps and speaking to him in our Congressional office. And I referred to him as “General.”
I do pray President Obama is serious when he says he trusts General Dunford. To this point we haven’t seen much trust emanating from the White House at all when it comes to our top uniformed military leaders.After all, it was Army General Lloyd Austin, commander in Iraq at the time, who recommended a residual force to the commander-in-chief — we all know how that turned out. And when the commander-in-chief states that “we” — and who exactly is that? — must remain relentless against al-Qaida. Hmm, it was just back in 2012 that a campaigning Obama told us al-Qaida had been decimated and was on the run.
Challenges indeed do face General Dunford as the incoming CJCS because we have failed to push back against the “Jayvee” team known as the Islamic State – who just claimed responsibility for a jihadist attack 20 minutes from our home here in northeast Dallas. I sincerely hope General Dunford can restore our credibility and the confidence our allies have in the U.S. I want us to stand with our European allies — like Ukraine and the Baltic States.
General Dunford is a straight-shooting combat Marine — doggone hope that President Obama can handle THAT truth. “As commander-in-chief, I’ll be looking for your honest military advice as we meet these challenges” — folks, remember that quote, it may end up right there with “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”Just take a look into General Dunford’s background, which is why many are complimentary of his selection. “Dunford, 59, was tapped to be commandant of the Marine Corps following a year and a half as commander of the International Security Assistance Force, leading all U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan. “Fighting Joe” earned his nickname during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when, as a Colonel, he commanded Regimental Combat Team 5 under Gen. James Mattis. An Army Ranger-qualified infantryman with Marine Corps gold jump wings and nearly four years spent between Iraq and Afghanistan, Dunford has the physical presence of a warrior: He has a habit of going on seven-mile runs in the heat of the day and completed the Marine Corps Marathon in 2012 with his adult children Patrick and Kathleen at his side. He’s also viewed as one of the Corps’ sharpest minds, a graduate of the U.S. Army War College and Marine Corps Amphibious Warfare School with a degree in political science from St. Michael’s College in Burlington, Vermont, and dual master’s degrees from Georgetown University and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He has previously served at the Pentagon as deputy commandant for Plans, Policies and Operations.”
“General Selva has served as the head of Transportation Command since May 2014. Prior to that, he led Air Mobility Command, during which he oversaw the development of the KC-46A tanker replacement program. During his tenure at Air Mobility Command and Transportation Command, Selva has been an outspoken advocate for mobility Airmen.”We have an impeccable leadership team for our military — two men who have all the right credentials and have “been there and done that.”
The final piece to the puzzle will be whether or not they will be respected by a White House that has not demonstrated trust and regard for senior military leaders. Since the reelection of President Obama, the global security environment has declined in an unconscionable way. The challenges are known. The solutions are within our grasp and known. The question is whether or not an intransigent political ideologue will continue to base strategic national security policy on a narrow-minded political philosophy focused more on social egalitarianism than “peace through strength.”