Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce during a meeting of NATO defense leaders in Brussels Wednesday that Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford will be nominated to succeed Gen. John Allen as the top commander in Afghanistan, according to a defense official familiar with the decision.
Dunford is now the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps and the Senate would have to approve his nomination. Allen, also a Marine, is expected to become the next head of the U.S. European Command in early 2013, replacing the retiring Adm. James Stavridis.
Dunford earned the nickname "Fighting Joe" while leading a Marine regiment during the invasion of Iraq, though he has no experience in Afghanistan.
(Tom Bowman covers the Pentagon for NPR.)