Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Amos a surprise tap to replace Conway

If I was a betting man, I'd have lost money Monday as Secretary Of Defense Robert Gates announced his recommendation that current Assistant Commandant General James F. Amos replace General James T. Conway [right] as the 35th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps when Conway retires in the Autumn.

The odds of Amos [left] being picked were remote for two main reasons: One is only 5 out of the previous 30 officers whom have held the Assistant Commandant position have been selected to continue on as Commandant, the latest one being General Paul X. Kelley in 1983. The second reason is that in the entire history of the Marine Corps, only infantry officers have ever served as Commandants and Amos is an aviator.

My money would have been on Lt. General Joseph F. "Fighting Joe" Dunford, the current Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Central Command - basically the top Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq. Failing Dunford, I'd have gone for General James N. "Mad Dog" Mattis, current Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Transformation as being commandant would be an extraordinary capstone to his incredible career.

I have no issue with Amos however, he is a man with his own ideas an opinions and had not just played second-fiddle to Jim Conway for 4 years. In fact I suspect that Gates may have chosen him partly because he's less hardlined against the repeal of the Don't Ask Don't Tell policy than I suspect Mattis [right] would be and I know Conway is. General Dunford at 55 is likely in retrospect considered to be fairly young for the position and may have had trouble commanding the respect of the older generals, but Gates has tapped him for the Assistant Commandant position, so perhaps he'll grow from there.

As for Amos, during my famous visit to the 8th and I in March '09 as we passed the Assistant Commandant's house, I recall Gunny Price pointing out what a strange metal bar braced over the General's basement entrance was for "That's where General Amos does his pull ups every morning" he said. When he noticed my shock he smiled "Yeah, he's in his 60's!"

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