Mass. Native Guides War in Afghanistan to a Close
In the fall of 1973, as the Vietnam War lurched to an end, newly minted freshman Joseph Dunford Jr. of Quincy walked by a Marine Corps recruiter outside the cafeteria at St. Michael’s College in Vermont.
The Boston College High School graduate paused, glanced at the recruiter’s pitch, and asked, “Hey, what’s this all about?”
The Marine answered, “It’s pretty selective, and I’m not sure you can qualify.”
Forty years later, Dunford is the top US and NATO military official in Afghanistan, a four-star Marine general who has been chosen to wind down America’s longest war, while at the same time protecting this traumatized country and strengthening Afghan forces so they can combat a stubborn and violent insurgency.
As Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Globe recently, “I’m guessing he doesn’t get much sleep.”
Dunford does not. The 57-year-old son of a retired Boston police officer logs marathon days steeped in battlefield reports, noise from critics back home, and a need to juggle the practical and political as the United States moves to end its combat mission by December 2014...
...Dunford, who received master’s degrees from Georgetown University and the Fletcher School at Tufts University, has a nuanced and transitional definition of success in Afghanistan, with an emphasis on military training, transparent national elections in 2014, and a difficult-to-quantify goal of national confidence.
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