It's official: Rodriguez to AFRICOM, Paxton to ACMC

The White House is expected to formally announce later today the nominations of Army Gen. David Rodriguez to head Africa Command, and Lt. Gen. John M. Paxton to be the next assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, a defense official has confirmed to the E-Ring.

Rodriguez is most famously known as the long-time daily operation commander of the Afghanistan war, having served as deputy to two consecutive war commanders: Gen. David Petraues and Gen. Stanley McChrystal. After his war service, the towering officer known affectionately as “General Rod” was given a much-deserved rest, a fourth star, and command of U.S. Forces Command, which is responsible for manning and equipping the services. 

The assignment was also viewed as a bit of a passing over, though. Few officers in the U.S. military know Afghanistan like Rodriguez, yet the ISAF baton passed from Petraeus to Gen. John Allen. When the baton was recently passed again to Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford, some in the Pentagon interpreted that as yet another missed opportunity for Rodriguez, who also served as senior military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates.

At AFRICOM, however, Rodriguez could prove a good fit. Africa, and the military command responsible for U.S. activities there, has shifted from a place considered a relative military afterthought for humanitarian and training operations, into the next hotbed of counterterrorism. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey have become more focused recently on al Qaeda and other extremist groups spreading across North Africa and asserting their presence, especially in Arab Awakening countries still lacking security.

For the Marine Corps, Paxton takes over the slot historically in charge of managing the budget portfolio and Washington. Paxon currently is commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, Marine Corps Forces, Europe, and is the commanding general of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic. He previously was the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force and was commander of the Marine forces under AFRICOM. The E-Ring reported Paxton was on the Pentagon's short list, where you can read more about him.

Mikhail Galustov/For The Washington Post via Getty Images