WASHINGTON, June 15 (UPI) -- Pentagon chief Robert Gates has recommended that Gen. James Amos be the next U.S. Marine Corps commandant, officials told Politico.
Gates also recommended to President Barack Obama that Lt. Gen. Joseph Dunford, general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, be assistant commandant, the Washington publication reported Monday. Obama hasn't nominated either individual, defense officials said, adding that the recommendations recently were forwarded to the White House.
If approved, Amos, currently the corps' second in command, would be the first aviator to lead the service, officials said. His selection is considered a surprise, because Dunford and Gen. James Mattis, commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, were considered front-runners for the post, observers told Politico. Lt. Gen. John Allen, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, also reportedly was under consideration.
Deliberations over who would lead the Marine Corps included discussions on whether gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly as well as the future of the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, the corps' preferred ground combat vehicle, officials in and outside of the Pentagon said.
Mattis said via e-mail to Politico he "could not be more pleased" that his "shipmate and friend" would lead the corps.
"By all means quote me: Tamer Amos and Fighting Joe Dunford will be the best possible team," Mattis said, using nicknames for the two officers.