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Gates announces choice for Marine Corps chief

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced his choices for new leadership of the Marine Corps on Monday, passing over a maverick candidate in favor of the service's No. 2 official.


The Associated Press
Monday, June 21, 2010; 8:19 PM

Gates said he has recommended that President Barack Obama nominate Gen. James Amos for the top job of commandant of the Marine Corps. The job requires Senate confirmation.

The White House is expected to accept Gates' choice. A public schedule released last week prematurely listed Amos as the nominee.

Amos is seen as willing to support Gates and other senior Pentagon leaders as they spend the next several months looking for cost savings.

In choosing him, Gates and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus passed over Gen. James Mattis, an expert in counterinsurgency warfare who would have probably posed a stiffer challenge to proposed budget changes.

Amos is the service's assistant commandant. He would replace Marine Gen. James Conway, whose four-year term as Marine commandant ends this fall. Gates proposed replacing Amos as No. 2 with Lt. Gen. Joseph Dunford.

"I came to these leadership decisions after a thorough process that considered several outstanding candidates," Gates said. "I am convinced that Gen. Amos and Lt. Gen. Dunford are the right team to lead the U.S. Marine Corps at this time, especially as it balances the capabilities needed to support current operations, its unique maritime heritage and its future role defending America."

Mattis, the head of the Joint Forces Command, is regarded as a rising star but one willing to challenge his superiors and the prevailing political winds.

The Marines, conceived as a flexible, hybrid land and sea service, have spent most of the last decade fighting wars firmly on land. After years of duty in Iraq that mirrored the Army, Marines are in the midst of sustained combat in landlocked Afghanistan's Helmand Province.