Obama taps Marine general as next Joint Chiefs chairman

President Obama will nominate Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr. as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Air Force Gen. Paul Selva as the vice chairman, according to two U.S. officials.  

“I can confirm that General Joseph F. Dunford, who is currently serving as Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, will be nominated to serve as the 19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," said a statement from one official. 

"Additionally, General Paul J. Selva, the current Commander of U.S. Transportation Command, will be nominated to serve as the tenth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. A formal announcement is expected at the White House tomorrow.”

Dunford, 59, is currently the commandant of the Marine Corps, and previously served as top commander in Afghanistan in 2013 to 2014. 

Dunford's pick was long anticipated among defense watchers, but other names were also in the running, including Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh, current Vice Chairman Adm. Sandy Winnefeld, and Pacific Command Commander Adm. Samuel Locklear. 

Dunford takes over the post from Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, who took the job in 2011, and served for two two-year terms. 

Dunford and Selva will have to be confirmed by the Senate.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said he was "extremely enthusiastic" about Dunford's selection.

"I've known him very well, for many years, and he's an outstanding leader," the Arizona Republican said Monday afternoon. "He's a combat veteran. He's a warrior." 

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, also praised Dunford as a “superb choice” and said he strongly supported his nomination. 

“General Dunford has the experience and vision to lead the Joint Chiefs and help shape our national security strategy at a time of enormous global challenges,” Reed said.  

He added that he looked forward to working with McCain to ensure his nomination “receives timely and careful consideration.”

— Jordain Carney contributed. The story was updated at 9:57 p.m.