Speaking at the White House, Obama praised Dunford as one of the most admired officers in the military.
Dunford, 59, is currently the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Previously, he served as the commander of the allied forces in Afghanistan and he commanded the 5th Marine Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom.
If confirmed, he would become the top military leader in the country.
"The move cuts short Dunford's service as the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, a job he began last October. But the rapid promotion is one of several that have marked Dunford's fast-tracked military career, which saw him leap from a one-star general to four stars in about three years.
"Officials also said Obama is tapping Gen. Paul J. Selva, a top Air Force officer and pilot, to serve as vice chairman. Selva, who has clocked more than 3,100 hours piloting transport and refueling aircraft, is currently the head of U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois."
The New York Times reports that the two new leaders would be tasked with guiding the military through the final stretch of President Obama's second term in office.
The Times reports:
"The two leaders would not only oversee the armed forces through the end of Mr. Obama's tenure, but they would also face the task of managing the Pentagon budget amid great flux. Both political parties want to spare the Defense Department the brunt of automatic spending cuts set to take effect, but even if it receives more money than is scheduled, the military may have some significant choices to make.
"General Dunford, who would be only the second Marine to serve as chairman, is viewed as a straight talker who was able to manage security around last year's Afghan presidential elections as the United States was ending its combat mission."
Dunford would replace Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who is retiring after four years in that position.