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Joseph Dunford

19 - Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford
2012 Rank: 9

Commander, International Security Assistance Force
Few defense jobs will be tougher over the coming year — and beyond — than Dunford’s. He’s the head of a coalition of more than 40 nations that constitute NATO’s International Security Assistance Force that oversees everything in Afghanistan, from operations to training Afghan Army and police forces. Viewed as a potential chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dunford has kept a relatively low profile while being America’s last top war general of the post-9/11 era, commanding US and NATO operations in Afghanistan. As assistant commandant of the Marine Corps before heading to Kabul, Dunford played a critical role in a range of initiatives, including an ongoing effort to overhaul infantry training and new policies aimed at curbing alcohol abuse, hazing, suicide and other behavioral issues. As commander in Afghanistan, Dunford is managing the orderly but complicated withdrawal of American and European combat troops by the end of 2014 — while helping to negotiate terms of a potential follow-on force of as many as 10,000 US troops after 2014 — while also turning over primary responsibility for security operations to Afghan forces. He is also charged with the thankless task of finding ways for billions of dollars worth of military equipment to snake its way out of the landlocked country over the next year. As a colonel, Dunford earned a reputation as “Fighting Joe” during the 2003 invasion of Iraq while commanding the 5th Marine Regimental Combat Team. He went on to spend 22 months in Iraq in various roles. His career really took off in December 2007 when he was nominated for his second star; just three months later he was nominated for a third star. Within two years he had a fourth star and was the Corps’ No. 2 general. 

Afghanistan Policy Special Ops Intelligence Marines