Joint Chiefs Nominee Warns Russia Is Greatest Threat to U.S.

Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Marine Corps commandant, testified Thursday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (PHOTO CREDIT: Zach Gibson/The New York Times)
Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the Marine Corps commandant, testified Thursday at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on his nomination as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (PHOTO CREDIT: Zach Gibson/The New York Times)

Russia’s aggressive behavior and its nuclear arsenal make it the single greatest national security threat faced by the United States, Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. said Thursday at a Senate hearing on his nomination as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

General Dunford, the Marine commandant, appeared far more confident that the military could step in if necessary if negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran fail. Asked whether the military had the ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear program, General Dunford was unequivocal. “My understanding is that we do, senator,” he said.

The hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee ran nearly two hours, and General Dunford was peppered with questions that ran the gamut of the issues he would face as chairman: how the United States should handle Iraq and Afghanistan — he has commanded American troops in both countries — how best to manage emerging threats in Asia, what to do about modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal and its submarine fleet, and how to combat sexual assault and harassment in the military.

There were almost no personal moments. There was no talk of General Dunford’s beloved Red Sox, who are currently in last place in the American League East, and the general tried to shut down an inquiry about “Fighting Joe,” a nickname he earned during the invasion of Iraq.

“It’s not one I use,” he said when asked about it. Then, when pressed on whether it was indeed a nickname that he had been given, General Dunford said, “Perhaps by my wife.”

The audience laughed, and General Dunford ended the exchange by saying, “I prefer to talk about that in private, if you don’t mind.”

Throughout the hearing, when asked about threats, General Dunford returned repeatedly to Russia, characterizing it as one of the few countries or forces in the world, or perhaps the only one, that could be considered a threat to the United States.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Matthew Rosenberg

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