As the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. had plenty to worry about: unrelenting insurgent attacks, an untested local force and an Afghan president who openly accused foreign troops of plotting to kill civilians.
But the Marine general earned favor from the White House in 2013 and 2014 as he shaped a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, one that struck a careful balance between the military priorities of field commanders and the political imperatives of leaders in Washington.
President Obama’s nomination of Dunford on Tuesday to become the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff brings the general’s Afghanistan experience back to the fore. It is also certain to inform the advice he provides about how closely the United States should stick to that plan, which would end the U.S. military mission by the time Obama leaves office in 2017.
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