Commander who served in Iraq war in line to be Marine chief

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller commander of United States Marine Corps Forces Central Command (CENTCOM), and Brig. Gen. Daniel D. Yoo, commanding general of Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan, visit the Afghan National Army Hospital and talk to medical professionals treating injured soldiers, aboard Camp Shorabak, Helmand province Afghanistan, May 22, 2014. The visit to Camp Shorabak allowed Neller and Yoo to observe Camp Shorabak's only hospital as it was being expanded. (Official U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. James D. Pauly, Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan/Released)

By ROBERT BURNS and LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Wednesday the White House is nominating Lt. Gen. Robert Neller, a commander who served in Iraq’s western province during one of the most violent periods of the war, to be commandant of the Marine Corps.

Carter called Neller a warrior, leader and statesman, and said the two had traveled together to war zones, collaborating on how to provide urgent support to troops in the field.

At a Pentagon news conference, Carter said that Neller’s experience will make him a strong addition to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Neller’s nomination is among a host of changes to the military leadership in coming months, including news chiefs of the Navy and Army. A new Joint Chiefs chairman is due to take office Oct. 1. Gen. Joseph Dunford has been nominated for that post.

Neller was deputy commander in Anbar province from 2005-2007, and that region has again taken on key importance in the current battle against the Islamic State group in Iraq.

Neller also was director for worldwide military operations on the Joint Staff from 2011-2012. Last year, he was named head of Marine Corps Forces command.

The nomination requires Senate approval.

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