It’s a rare day in Washington when Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is thrilled about a national security decision from the White House, but Tuesday, President Barack Obama nominated Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford to replace Gen. Martin Dempsey as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
When Defense One asked McCain about his longstanding dislike for Dempsey, the Armed Services Committee chairman interrupted with an enthusiastic, “Yes,” and proceeded to enumerate Dunford’s qualifications.
“I’m a strong supporter of Gen. Dunford…an outstanding selection,” McCain said. “Dunford I’ve known since 2002. Fourteen years I have known him well, because of his leadership roles in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“I think he’ll speak truth to power,” the senator said. “That’s a habit the Marines have, and I think that he will also bring the benefit of his experience and leadership roles in combat. He’s a true combat veteran.”
The implication was obvious: As opposed to Dempsey, a combat veteran who fought in Iraq and Desert Storm?
“Uhhhhh,” said McCain, himself a Vietnam veteran and former prisoner of war. After a moment, he reiterated that Dunford “is a combat veteran. His credentials in my view are the most superior of anybody who was in consideration.”