WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will nominate Army Gen. David Rodriguez to succeed Gen. Carter Ham as commander of U.S. Africa Command and Marine Lt. Gen. John Paxton to succeed Gen. Joseph Dunford as assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced Thursday.
Both appointments must be confirmed by the Senate.
Rodriguez is the commander of U.S. Army Forces Command and has served in a “variety of key leadership roles on the battlefield,” Panetta said.
He’s “a proven leader” who oversaw coalition and Afghan forces during the surge in Afghanistan, and “was the key architect of the successful campaign plan that we are now implementing,” Panetta said.
In announcing Ham’s successor, Panetta also praised the work Ham has done with Africa Command.
“Gen. Ham has really brought AFRICOM into a very pivotal role in that challenging region,” Panetta said. “I and the nation are deeply grateful for his outstanding service.”
Last week, Panetta announced that Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford will succeed Gen. John Allen as the top commander in Afghanistan. Thursday, he said Paxton will step into Dunford’s current position.
Paxton is the commander of U.S. Marine Corps Force Command, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Fleet Marine Force Atlantic. Panetta called Paxton “an exceptionally capable leader” who will join the “growing cadre of senior military leaders who have deployed to combat theaters… throughout their careers.”