Gen. Joseph Dunford, Afghanistan war commander, profiled by Boston Globe


Gen. Joseph Dunford, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, was profiled by his hometown Boston Globe on Sunday. (Defense Department photo by D. Myles Cullen)

Gen. Joseph Dunford has a father who fought in Korea as a Marine, loves his hometown Boston Red Sox and was lured to join the Marine Corps after seeing a recruiting poster at college.

Those are among the details published in a new Boston Globe story about the Marine general who leads the war in Afghanistan. Dunford, a Boston native, was profiled by the newspaper on Sunday, and met with a Globe reporter in Kabul.

The story is short on details about the war, but highlights the general’s rise from South Boston to four-star general. He played a fair amount of sports, had interest in being a soldier as a kid, and was the oldest of six brothers, it says.

There’s also this description of his office in Kabul:

In Afghanistan, the military and Boston continue to be linked. Three of Dunford’s top generals were raised in the city’s suburbs, including Army Major General James McConville, who played pickup sports with Dunford in the Merrymount section of Quincy.

Decades later, Dunford surveys a different field as he manages the war from a ground-floor office that is comfortable but not ostentatious. Two Red Sox caps adorn one of his wall shelves. His windows look out on a dusty forecourt that abuts a garden retreat where soldiers from dozens of nations gather for drinks — all nonalcoholic — and conversation.

In an adjoining cafe, movie posters from “The Godfather” and “Casablanca” give the place a faint veneer of nightlife in a city where insurgent bombs explode about once a week. A photo of Muhammad Ali taunting a prone Sonny Liston dominates one wall; a picture of the Rat Pack is on another.

Dunford, the story says, distributes 5-by-8 cards to staff that examines what winning looks like in Afghanistan. They stress self-reliance, legitimacy and accountability, among other virtues.


About Author

I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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