WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama has tapped the vice chief of the Army to take over the U.S. command in Afghanistan later this year as America pulls out its combat troops and leaves a force of about 10,000 to train and advise the Afghan military.
If confirmed by the Senate, Army Gen. John Campbell will take over the Afghanistan post, returning to the country where he led the 101st Airborne Division's deployment in 2010. His job will be to oversee the final months of transition this year, and then lead the next phase as the U.S. works with the new Afghan government to improve its military and the ministries that govern it.
Campbell would replace Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, who has been leading the fight in Afghanistan since February 2013. Dunford has been tapped to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps.
Campbell's yearlong tour with the 101st in eastern Afghanistan came during one of the most violent and difficult times of the war, as a surge of U.S. forces tried to tamp down escalating violence. The 101st lost more than 130 division soldiers during that deployment — the deadliest war tour for the unit since Vietnam.
Obama has also nominated Navy Adm. Bill Gortney, a naval aviator with almost 5,400 flight hours, to take over as head of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, based in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Currently the head of U.S. Fleet Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia, Gortney was a visible Pentagon figure during the March 2011 military attack on Libya. Then the director of the Joint Staff, Gortney was responsible for going to the podium to explain and detail the allied assault. He will replace outgoing NorthCom commander Army Gen. Charles Jacoby Jr.
In addition, Obama nominated Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Votel to receive a fourth star and appointment as the head of U.S. Special Operations Command in Tampa, Florida.
Votel has been serving as commander of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He would replace Adm. William McRaven, who has been credited with spearheading the operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden during a raid at his compound in Pakistan in May 2011.
McRaven, who has led SOCOM since August 2011, is retiring. He was also at the helm when Army Delta forces secured the release of Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl last month from the Taliban as part of an exchange for five Afghan detainees from the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention center. Bergdahl had been held by insurgents from the Haqqani network and the Taliban for about five years.