General who labeled Russia ‘America’s biggest threat’ confirmed as top US military officer

General Joseph Dunford © Gary Cameron
The US Senate confirmed Marine General Joseph Dunford as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During nomination hearings he labeled Russia as the biggest threat the US is facing.

Dunford, who was nominated in May, is expected to replace the current head of the JCS Army General Martin E. Dempsey starting October. Dempsey is set to retire in September after a 41-year military career. The promotion cuts short Dunford’s service as the commandant of the US Marine Corps exactly one year after taking the position. Before that he commanded for nearly two years the 5th Marine Division in Iraq.

During his confirmation hearings in the Senate, Dunford called Russia the biggest threat the US is facing today.

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“Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security,” he said. “If you want to talk about a nation that could pose an existential threat to the United States, I'd have to point to Russia.”

The White House distanced itself from the comment, saying it reflects Dunford’s own position and not necessarily the “consensus analysis of the president's national security team.”

Dunford’s confirmation had been stalled by Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who would not allow it to proceed unless prosecution of sexual assault charges in the US military were removed from its chain of command and entrusted to independent attorneys. According to Roll Call newspaper, Gillibrand said Pentagon offered her access to military databases on sex crimes that she had requested.