Dunford Reflects Differences With Some Obama Policies

Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford received bipartisan assurance of confirmation as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday as he demonstrated considerable differences with some of President Obama’s national security policies. Dunford, the current Marine Corps Commandant, expressed support for providing lethal arms to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia, which Obama has rejected, opposed a “calendar-based” decision to reduce US troop levels in Afghanistan next year, and agreed with SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that America had an obligation to protect any US trained Syrian opposition forces against “barrel bomb” attacks by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. However, Dunford echoed the Administration’s opposition to sequestration and said Congress’ plan to boost defense spending by padding the overseas contingency operations account would not give the military the long-term stability it needed. Holding the civilian agencies to sequester limits also would hamper their essential aid to the fight against ISIS, added Dunford. In his short opening statement, Dunford promised to give both the President and Congress his candid professional advice and said his primary effort would be to rebuild the combat readiness degraded by sequestration and to “properly lead” the uniformed and civilian personnel who serve the nation.