Military Wiki
Joseph Dunford
Birth name Joseph Francis Dunford, Jr.
Nickname "Fighting Joe"[1]
Born December 8, 1955(1955-12-08) (age 67)
Place of birth Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1977–present
Rank US Marine 10 shoulderboard.svg General
Commands held Chairman 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/wars Iraq War
War in Afghanistan
Awards Defense 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 was also the 36th Commandant of the Marine Corps. Earlier in his career, Dunford served as commander of the International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces-Afghanistan from February 2013 until August 2014.[2] He has commanded several units, including the 5th Marine Regiment during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. On July 29, 2015, Dunford was confirmed by the Senate to be the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[3] Dunford will become the highest ranking military officer in the United States Armed Forces on 1 October 2015 when his predecessor retires.

Early life and education

Dunford was born in Boston in 1955,[4] and raised in Quincy, Massachusetts. He is of Irish background[5] and is described as a "fervent Catholic."[6] 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 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.[7] During his command of RCT-5 in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, he earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" under James Mattis.[8]

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.[9] In December 2007, Dunford was nominated for promotion to the rank of major general.[10] In February, 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.[10] In April 2008, his appointment to the permanent rank of major general was confirmed by the United States Senate, and simultaneously appointed in 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:[11]

  • 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.

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 23 October 2010.[15]

On October 10, 2012, General Dunford was nominated by President Barack Obama to lead U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.[16] After an investigation into inappropriate communications from the then-current commander in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen, was opened, Secretary Panetta requested that General Dunford's nomination be acted on promptly.[17] Dunford assumed command of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan (USFOR-A) from General Allen,[2] who had since been cleared in the Pentagon's investigation involving his e-mails in the Petraeus scandal, on February 10, 2013, .[18]

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.[19] On January 23, 2015 General Dunford released the 36th Commandant's Planning Guidance.[20]

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.[21] He has been confirmed by the U.S. Senate. He will serve with Gen. Paul Selva, USAF, Commander of U.S. Transportation Command, who has been confirmed as the next Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. [22]

Awards and decorations

Dunford is the recipient of the following awards:

United States Navy Parachutist Badge.png
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Silver-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Parachutist Insignia
Defense Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal w/ 1 oak leaf cluster Legion of Merit w/ Combat V
Defense Meritorious Service Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ award star Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ 3 award stars Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Combat Action Ribbon Navy Presidential Unit Citation Joint Meritorious Unit Award Navy Unit Commendation
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars National Defense Service Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal w/ 1 service star Afghanistan Campaign Medal w/ 1 service star
Iraq Campaign Medal w/ 2 service stars Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 6 service stars NATO Medal
Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

He holds rifle expert (3rd award) and pistol sharpshooter marksmanship badges as well as the Ranger Tab.svg Ranger tab.

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Army document "Official Biography: Lieutenant General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Deputy Commandant for Plans, Policies, and Operations".

  1. Mohammad Manzarpour (21 February 2013). "Joseph Dunford: "Fighting Joe" to lead US out of Afghanistan". BBC. Retrieved 21 February 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Leadership: General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr.". International Security Assistance Force location=Kabul, Afghanistan. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  3. "Senate confirms Dunford as next Joint Chiefs Chairman". Military Times. July 30, 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2015. 
  4. "Hearings before the Committee on Armed Services, United States Senate, 112th Congress, 2nd Session, on Nominations". Washington, DC: GPO. 2012. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  5. "5 Things to Know About Gen. Joseph Dunford". Associated Press. ABC News. 5 May 2015. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  6. "Quiet brawler: Everything you need to know about the next commandant". Marine Corps Times. 9 Jun 2014. Retrieved 6 May 2015. 
  7. Chaisson, Stephanie (18 June 2007). "Stars and Stripes - Pride in the flag - Quincy continues Flag Day tradition". The Patriot Ledger. Quincy, MA. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  8. North, Oliver; Mussler, Joe (2003). War Stories: Operation Iraqi Freedom. Jenkins, Griff. Washington, D.C.: Regnery Publishing and Fox News. ISBN 0895260379. Retrieved 2010-06-16. 
  9. "Brigadier General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., Vice Director for Operations, J-3". Arlington County, Virginia: Joint Chiefs of Staff. Archived from the original on 2008-10-19. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Johnson, Kimberly (24 February 2008). "3 tapped for stars". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 18 October 2014.  (Viewing article requires answering survey or viewing advertisement video)
  11. "Plans, Policies, and Operations". HQMC, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 7 January 2009. 
  12. DefenseLink General Officer Announcements
  13. "Gates pegs Amos to lead Marine Corps". United Press International. June 15, 2010. Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  14. Cavas, Christopher P. (June 15, 2010). "Amos expected to be named commandant". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 16 June 2010. 
  15. ALMAR 040/10
  16. Chandrasekaran, Rijev (11 October 2012). "In Afghanistan, Marine Gen. Dunford is expected to take command of allied forces". The Washington Post. Retrieved 18 October 2014. 
  17. "David Petraeus CIA scandal engulfs US Gen John Allen". BBC News. 13 November 2012. 
  18. Gen. John R. Allen Exhonerated Washington Post 23 January 2013
  19. "Dunford confirmed as 36th commandant of the Marine Corps | Marine Corps Times". Retrieved 2014-07-25. 
  21. Schogol, Jeff (5 May 2015). "Dunford tapped for Joint Chiefs chairman, Selva for vice". Military Times. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  22. Selva, McDew confirmed as vice chairman of JCS, head of TRANSCOM, Jeff Schogol, Air Force Times, 28 July 2015, accessed 30 July 2015

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
John Allen
Commander of the International Security Assistance Force
Succeeded by
John Campbell
Preceded by
James Amos
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Frank Grass
as Chief of the National Guard Bureau
Order of Precedence of the United States
as Commandant of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Paul Zukunft
as Commandant of the Coast Guard

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