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Army gets geographical command, at last
He said attaining combatant command status will better prepare future commandants, the most coveted post for any senior Marine.
“The four-star combatant, or combat theater, commander will have sat at the table with the defense secretary, will have dealt significantly in the joint environment, will have testified frequently before Congress, and will have an external view of his own service,” Gen. Conway said. “In other words, he will come to the job of commandant much better prepared for a fast start than would otherwise be the case.”
The “joint” assignments, so-called because all troops of different branches fall under one headquarters, are the armed forces most prestigious, for some officers even out-shinning a seat on the Joint Chiefs of Staff as a service chief.
A commanding presence
Central Command has emerged as the indispensable command given its geographical responsibility for nations where al Qaeda and Islamic extremists are seeking to establish a foothold and overthrow governments.
Who gets which four-star commands can be filled with intrigue.
In the end, President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta chose another Marine, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, now the No. 2 Marine officer, to succeed Gen. Allen. Gen. Dunford is scheduled to take over in Afghanistan early next year.
He and the White House will confer often as the last major presence of American troops flow out of the country in the coming two years, leaving a residual force of trainers and special operations warriors. Some in the Army believe the White House decided it will have smoother relationship with Gen. Dunford.
In November, another Marine won appointment to a combatant command: Gen. John F. Kelley took over the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command from Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser.
SouthCom’s major missions include counter-narcotics, aiding Colombia in its long war with Marxist guerrillas and keeping an eye on Venezuela and anti-U.S. President Hugo Chavez.
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