WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has recommended General Joseph Dunford, the No. 2 Marine officer, to lead the war effort in Afghanistan once the outgoing commander of U.S. and NATO troops rotates out of the post, a U.S. official told Reuters on Wednesday.
The decision will ultimately rest with President Barack Obama and his nomination would need to be approved by Congress.
Dunford, who served in the Iraq war, would replace General John Allen, who took over command of the Afghan mission in July 2011 and who is expected to become the next head of U.S. forces in Europe sometime this winter.
The White House and the Pentagon declined comment.
Dunford, whose recommendation by Panetta was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, would oversee plans to withdraw most of America's combat troops by the end of 2014, as the United States hands over security control to Afghan forces.
Dunford has been assistant commandant of the Marine Corps since October 2010. Previous posts include serving as commanding general at Marine Forces Central Command. He holds a master's degree in government from Georgetown University and another in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart. Editing by Warren Strobel and Eric Beech)