ARLINGTON, Va. — President Bush has nominated Lt. Gen. James Conway of the Joint Staff to become the new commandant of the Marine Corps, according to the Defense Department.

If confirmed by the Senate, Conway would succeed Gen. Michael Hagee as the 34th Marine Corps commandant.

Conway was in transit Tuesday afternoon and could not be reached for comment.

Currently director of operations on the Joint Staff, Conway commanded the I Marine Expeditionary Force during two combat tours in Iraq. The Joint Staff assists the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in accomplishing his responsibilities.

Commissioned as an infantry officer in 1970, Conway’s commands also include a tour as President of the Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va.

The Defense Department has not announced what the next step is for the current Marine Corps commandant.

Hagee’s plans are as of yet unknown, according to the Marine Corps.

Hagee began his career in the Corps as a platoon commander in Vietnam and served as commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force prior to becoming commandant in January 2003.

The change in Marine Corps leadership comes amid ongoing investigations into alleged Marine misconduct at Haditha and Hamandiyah, in which about 25 Iraqi civilians were killed in separate incidents.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said Tuesday the change in the Marine Corps’ leadership is unrelated to the misconduct allegations.

Whitman noted that the average term for Marine Corps commandants is about three years and Hagee has served as commandant for three-and-a-half years.

“There’s not a date yet for when this transition will take place,” Whitman said.

He also said the summer months are typically a time when commanders are identified for new positions.

In a recent news conference, Hagee was asked if he planned to step down as a result of the misconduct allegations.

“I serve at the pleasure of the president. And I have not submitted any resignation,” Hagee said.

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