- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 15, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has held his first conversation with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, the nation’s highest military officer as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A source said the two spoke by phone earlier this month. “Excellent conversation,” the source said.

Gen. Dunford will be Mr.Trump’s top military adviser, and defense secretary-designate James Mattis, his top defense adviser. Then-Col. Dunford served under Mr. Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, in the first Iraq war.

Navy Capt. Gregory Hicks, Gen. Dunford’s spokesman, told The Washington Times.

“Can’t and won’t be able to confirm if and when any phone call occurred, nor the nature of any call. Any call like that is private and confidential between the Chairman and President-elect, or between the Chairman and President.”

Days after the call, the two met briefly in the stands during the recent Army-Navy football game in Baltimore.

Mr. Trump has shown an affinity for Marine generals. He has announced retired Marine Gen. John Kelly as the next secretary of Homeland Security.

During the campaign, Gen. Dunford differed with candidate Trump on the issue of torture and bombing civilians. The candidate said he would bring back water boarding and kill the families of terrorists.

“Our men and women … they go to war with the values of our nations,” Gen. Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee last March. “Those kinds of activities that you described are inconsistent with the values of our nation. And quite frankly, I think it would have an adverse effect. … One of them would be on the morale of the force. And frankly, what you are suggesting are things that actually aren’t legal for them to do anyway.”

Mr. Trump has backed off both those positions.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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