Lockheed Martin, the nation’s largest defense contracting corporation, has added General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, less than six months after his retirement from the Marine Corps. Dunford will assist with Lockheed’s classified business and security committee and the nominating and corporate governance committee. Dunford served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS) from 2015 to 2019 and was previously the Commandant of the Marine Corps (CMC).
Dunford’s search for his first pick for his post-military career began well before his military service was completed. Dunford was pursuing the deanship of The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Ironically he was passed over due to the university’s desire to shift the focus of the Fletcher School towards climate change and sustainable development after it had been led by retired Navy Admiral James Stavridis for five years.
There are many pundits calling for a stop to the practice of high-ranking military leaders quickly transitioning to cushy, well-paying board jobs with defense contractors, but in General Dunford’s case, what is being overlooked here is the lack of accountability he faced during his time in the Marine Corps regarding the best interest of his fellow Marines. He is yet another retired CMC to move on to greener pastures in spite of a questionable track record with how he handled certain high-profile war crimes cases. Should he be allowed to move on without having to answer for his missteps like so many others have been able to do already?
In 2015, several members of Congress wrote letters to then-CMC Dunford expressing their concern for a group of Marine Corps special operators in MARSOC Fox Company who were falsely accused of indiscriminately killing Afghan civilians in 2007 and were being forced to live with the stigma of being labeled war criminals in spite of having been “cleared” by a Court of Inquiry. Gen Dunford’s response to one U.S. Senator was that “No Marines from MSOC-F faced any judicial or adverse administrative action…nor is there any adverse administrative information in their military records.”