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Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, Jr. / Manuel Balce Ceneta, AP

WASHINGTON - Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford has been named the next commandant of the Marine Corps, the Pentagon announced Thursday.

Dunford is the top commander of all U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. He will succeed Gen. James Amos, who will retire later this year.

Dunford has commanded in Afghanistan as NATO handed over security responsibility to Afghan forces and the withdrawal of U.S. troops has accelerated. There are about 32,000 American forces there, and that number will drop to about 10,000 by year's end.

He will take over the Marine Corps that has been refocusing on its traditional missions of quick response to crises and amphibious operations. Since the 9/11 terror attacks, Marines have been fighting ground combat in Iraq and Afghanistan and focusing on counterinsurgency.

Dunford will also face a period of declining budgets and shrinking ground forces as the Pentagon moves away from protracted ground wars. Dunford is an infantry officer, the branch the Marines traditionally tap for their commandants. Amos is a Marine pilot.

Follow @tvandenbrook on Twitter.



Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

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