• Robert Neller Picked As Next Marine Corps Commandant

    Lt. Gen. Robert Neller has been tapped for the position of commandant of the Marine Corps by the White House, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Wednesday.

    “One year ago, Bob took command of the Marine Corps Forces Command and Marine Corps Forces Europe, and he’s done a phenomenal job leading the more than 43,000 marines under his charge,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said. “Bob is a warrior, he’s a leader, he’s a statesman.”

    Neller, an infantry officer for 40 years, served in Iraq from 2005 to 2007 as deputy commanding general for operations of I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward). The I MEF’s area of operations was Anbar province in western Iraq, notably during the height of the Al Qaeda insurgency. That same area has recently taken on new relevance in the fight against Islamic State.

    The announcement finally answers the question as to who will replace current Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford, who Obama tapped to take over for Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Dunford’s confirmation hearing is scheduled for June 9.

    The White House picked Neller over two other possible candidates, namely Gen. John Kelly and Gen. John Paxton. Kelly currently serves as commander of U.S. Southern Command, and Paxton is the 33rd assistant commandant of the Marine Corps. If confirmed, Neller’s duties may include making key decisions about opening up combat roles to women, though he may put in a request to keep some roles closed.

    Retiring Dempsey backed the nomination decision.

    “I too have complete trust and confidence in Lt. Gen. Bob Neller to lead the United States Marine Corps,” Gen. Dempsey said, according to The Washington Times. “He knows the entire joint force, so he’ll be a great team mate on the joint chiefs of staff.”

    When he first started at Marine Forces Command, Neller reiterated that there is no tolerance for gender and racial discrimination.

    The Senate still needs to confirm Neller’s appointment. No exact date exists yet for the hearing, but it will likely occur in July.

    Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter


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