WASHINGTON, September 24, 2015 — Marine Corps Gen. Robert B. Neller today assumed command of the Marine Corps from Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., as Dunford prepares to become the 19th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
During the passage of command ceremony at Marine Barracks Washington, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Dunford is a respected leader who is humble, driven to excellence and always faithful to his people and mission. He was the “first and obvious” choice to be the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Carter said, adding that he has the “operational acuity of a battle-hardened commander and the strategic wisdom of a statesman.”
Though Dunford was commandant for less than a year, Carter said, he sharpened the force’s air-ground task force capability, improved leadership development and care, and maintained the Marine Corps as the “world’s pre-eminent expeditionary force-in-readiness, answering any call, anytime, anywhere on Earth.”
Dunford commanded the 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was the commander of the International Security Assistance Force and United States Forces – Afghanistan from February 2013 to August 2014. He became Marine Corps commandant in October 2014.
In a ceremony tomorrow at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia, Dunford will succeed Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as the highest ranking U.S. military officer.
Premier Response Force Always Ready
The new commandant is a tested warrior and innovative strategist who never hesitates to act, Carter said. Neller is the right person to be the 37th commandant and lead the service as the “world’s unrivaled expeditionary rapid response force,” the defense secretary added.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said Neller is a career infantry officer with a reputation for being no-nonsense and direct. His years of military service have been defined by command and by combat, Mabus said, and he will be successful — as Dunford was — in leading the Corps through the world’s security challenges.
“I’m absolutely certain that he will rise to the challenges, see them as opportunities, and seize his time to ensure that the Marine Corps remains the most effective expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known,” the Navy secretary said.
‘Now Let’s Go Do This’
“This morning I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth,” Dunford said. “Just look at this formation of Marines behind me; they represent the over 200,000 Marines in our total force. Who wouldn’t consider themselves fortunate to stand in their ranks and claim the title of United States Marine, even just one day?”
Neller said he is honored, humbled and proud to succeed Dunford.
The new commandant thanked military leaders and family for their unwavering support, adding that there are three families in any military member’s life: “the family you’re born into, marry into, and sworn into. They’re all represented here today.”
Marines stand ready to fight and win, or take on missions such as recovery after a national disaster or reinforcing an embassy, Neller said.
“I understand what I have to do. It’s a great honor and privilege to take this on. I’m humbled. I know I have your support. I appreciate your support,” he said, “Now let’s go do this.”