The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY BILL GERTZ

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dun­ford, com­man­dant of the Marine Corps, has emerged as a lead­ing can­di­date to re­place Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as the next chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ac­cord­ing to de­fense of­fi­cials familiar with in­ter­nal dis­cus­sions of the mat­ter.

Gen. Dempsey is slated to re­tire in Septem­ber, and De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter is said to be fa­vor­ing Gen. Dun­ford, a re­cent com­man­der of U.S. forces in Afghanistan un­til he took over as com­man­dant last sum­mer.

Other can­di­dates in­clude the cur­rent vice chair­man, Adm. James A. Win­nefeld Jr.; Adm. Sa­muel Lock­lear, Pa­cific Com­mand com­man­der; Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh; and Gen. Lloyd Austin, com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand.

Gen. Dun­ford’s views on sen­si­tive po­lit­i­cal is­sues were out­lined in writ­ten an­swers he sup­plied to the Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee last year. He stated that he sup­ports the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­tro­ver­sial ef­fort to place women into com­bat po­si­tions de­spite prob­lems. More than two dozen fe­male Marines so far all washed out of the Corps’ gru­el­ing of­fi­cer train­ing course.

On Afghanistan, Gen. Dun­ford wrote last July that he sup­ports keep­ing troops in the coun­try and gave con­di­tional ap­proval to Pres­i­dent Obama’s plan to draw down forces through the end of 2016 — “with an un­der­stand­ing that we should con­tinue to val­i­date the as­sump­tions and as­sess the con­di­tions on the ground as the draw­down takes place.”

On the new pol­icy of open­ing di­rect ground com­bat po­si­tions to women by Jan­uary 2016 or ask­ing for an ex­emp­tion from do­ing so, Gen. Dun­ford stated that, as com­man­dant, he would be “de­ci­sively en­gaged in the devel­op­ment of gen­der-free stan­dards for all mil­i­tary oc­cu­pa­tions to en­sure that we con­tinue to field the most ca­pa­ble Marine Corps pos­si­ble.”

The emer­gence of Gen. Dun­ford as a lead­ing can­di­date for chair­man has un­der­mined a lob­by­ing cam­paign for Adm. Lock­lear, the Pa­cific Com­mand chief.

The ad­mi­ral has been qui­etly seek­ing sup­port for the nom­i­na­tion for the chair­man’s job over the past sev­eral months. The Hawaii-based com­man­der was said to have set up a team of ad­vis­ers to help him with the be­hindthe-scenes process.

Mr. Carter re­cently met with Adm. Lock­lear on the way to Asia, and of­fi­cials said the meet­ing in­cluded an eval­u­a­tion of Adm. Lock­lear’s fit­ness for the chair­man post.

The ad­mi­ral has de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion as among the Navy’s most po­lit­i­cally cor­rect ad­mi­rals, voic­ing broad sup­port for the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s lib­eral agenda. In 2013 he told the Bos­ton Globe that cli­mate change and ris­ing sea lev­els were the coun­try’s most se­ri­ous longterm se­cu­rity threats — not a nu­clear mis­sile-armed North Korea or an in­creas­ingly ag­gres­sive China.

The Pa­cific Com­mand leader also has also been among the most ac­com­mo­dat­ing to­ward China. He has taken po­si­tions that put him fur­ther to the left on the topic than Mr. Carter, a cen­trist Demo­crat.

One ex­am­ple came dur­ing a Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee hear­ing last week, when Adm. Lock­lear strictly ad­hered to ad­min­is­tra­tion talk­ing points that avoid men­tion­ing Bei­jing’s threat­en­ing be­hav­ior. He then went much fur­ther, say­ing it was “im­per­a­tive that we un­der­stand the rise of China and that we, to some de­gree, ac­com­mo­date the rise of China to where we can at­tempt to shape the rise of China.”

The com­ments put him at odds with many U.S. al­lies in Asia, in­clud­ing Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe, who would like to see a stronger U.S. pos­ture against Bei­jing’s mil­i­tary be­hav­ior and mar­itime en­croach­ment.

Of­fi­cials said Adm. Lock­lear’s most dif­fi­cult hur­dle to over­come was a pos­si­ble taint as the re­sult of an on­go­ing cor­rup­tion probe that has en­snared at least eight Navy of­fi­cers in crim­i­nal wrong­do­ing and im­pli­cated scores more.

In Fe­bru­ary, Navy Sec­re­tary Ray Mabus is­sued let­ters of cen­sure to three ad­mi­rals for their role in the bribery scan­dal in­volv­ing a con­trac­tor of Pa­cific naval forces. The scan­dal in­volved kick­backs and im­proper gifts from the con­trac­tor Glenn De­fense Marine Asia, whose chief ex­ec­u­tive, Leonard Glenn Fran­cis, has given the case its name — the “Fat Leonard” scan­dal.

Adm. Lock­lear was a com­man­der of the U.S. Navy’s Third Fleet in San Diego at the time, but of­fi­cials said

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