It’s official: Rodriguez to AFRICOM, Paxton to ACMC

The White House is expected to formally announce later today the nominations of Army Gen. David Rodriguez to head Africa Command, and Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton to be the next assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, a defense official has confirmed to the E-Ring. Rodriguez is most famously known as the long-time daily operation ...

Mikhail Galustov/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Mikhail Galustov/For The Washington Post via Getty Images
Mikhail Galustov/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

The White House is expected to formally announce later today the nominations of Army Gen. David Rodriguez to head Africa Command, and Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton to be the next assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, a defense official has confirmed to the E-Ring.

Rodriguez is most famously known as the long-time daily operation commander of the Afghanistan war, having served as deputy to two consecutive war commanders: Gen. David Petraues and Gen. Stanley McChrystal. After his war service, the towering officer known affectionately as “General Rod” was given a much-deserved rest, a fourth star, and command of U.S. Forces Command, which is responsible for manning and equipping the services. 

The assignment was also viewed as a bit of a passing over, though. Few officers in the U.S. military know Afghanistan like Rodriguez, yet the ISAF baton passed from Petraeus to Gen. John Allen. When the baton was recently passed again to Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, some in the Pentagon interpreted that as yet another missed opportunity for Rodriguez, who also served as senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

The White House is expected to formally announce later today the nominations of Army Gen. David Rodriguez to head Africa Command, and Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton to be the next assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, a defense official has confirmed to the E-Ring.

Rodriguez is most famously known as the long-time daily operation commander of the Afghanistan war, having served as deputy to two consecutive war commanders: Gen. David Petraues and Gen. Stanley McChrystal. After his war service, the towering officer known affectionately as “General Rod” was given a much-deserved rest, a fourth star, and command of U.S. Forces Command, which is responsible for manning and equipping the services. 

The assignment was also viewed as a bit of a passing over, though. Few officers in the U.S. military know Afghanistan like Rodriguez, yet the ISAF baton passed from Petraeus to Gen. John Allen. When the baton was recently passed again to Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, some in the Pentagon interpreted that as yet another missed opportunity for Rodriguez, who also served as senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

At AFRICOM, however, Rodriguez could prove a good fit. Africa, and the military command responsible for U.S. activities there, has shifted from a place considered a relative military afterthought for humanitarian and training operations, into the next hotbed of counterterrorism. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey have become more focused recently on al Qaeda and other extremist groups spreading across North Africa and asserting their presence, especially in Arab Awakening countries still lacking security.

For the Marine Corps, Paxton takes over the slot historically in charge of managing the budget portfolio and Washington. Paxon currently is commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, Marine Corps Forces, Europe, and is the commanding general of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. He previously was the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force and was commander of the Marine forces under AFRICOM. The E-Ring reported Paxton was on the Pentagon’s short list, where you can read more about him.

Kevin Baron is a national security reporter for Foreign Policy, covering defense and military issues in Washington. He is also vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. Baron previously was a national security staff writer for National Journal, covering the "business of war." Prior to that, Baron worked in the resident daily Pentagon press corps as a reporter/photographer for Stars and Stripes. For three years with Stripes, Baron covered the building and traveled overseas extensively with the secretary of defense and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, covering official visits to Afghanistan and Iraq, the Middle East and Europe, China, Japan and South Korea, in more than a dozen countries. From 2004 to 2009, Baron was the Boston Globe Washington bureau's investigative projects reporter, covering defense, international affairs, lobbying and other issues. Before that, he muckraked at the Center for Public Integrity. Baron has reported on assignment from Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South Pacific. He was won two Polk Awards, among other honors. He has a B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond and M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University. Originally from Orlando, Fla., Baron has lived in the Washington area since 1998 and currently resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, three sons, and the family dog, The Edge. Twitter: @FPBaron

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