Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, commander of Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, speaks at the retirement ceremony for Maj. Gen. Charles M. Gurganus aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, earlier this month. Berger has been nominated to lead I Marine Expeditionary Force. (Lance Cpl. Christopher A. Mendoza / Marine Corps)
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Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, center, commanding general, Task Force Leatherneck, speaks with the commanding officer of 1st Combat Engineer Battalion in Helmand province, Afghanistan, in September 2012. (Lance Cpl. Joshua M. Rudy / Marine Corps)
Maj. Gen. David H. Berger, who led Marines in Haiti, Fallujah, Iraq, and Afghanistan, was tapped to become commander of I Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Pendleton, California.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced today that President Obama nominated Berger to succeed Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan at I MEF. If approved by Congress, Berger would pick up his third star.
Berger now serves as commander of Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command and of the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms, California. Toolen was nominated to become commander of Marine Corps Forces Pacific, where he’ll succeed Lt. Gen. Terry Robling.
Berge deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 as the commanding general of 1st Marine Division (Forward) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
As a colonel in 2005, he led Regimental Combat Team 8 in Fallujah, Iraq. In an interview with the Christian Science Monitor in November 2005, he said the key lesson from the 2nd Battle of Fallujah, one of the fiercest fights of the war in Iraq, was to “go and stay.”
“The worst thing you can do is go and then leave. If you go, get something done and leave, each time you leave you lose [the Iraqis’] trust,” he said.
Just a year before that, then-Lt. Col. Berger, commander of 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Secure Tomorrow.
Berger was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1981 following graduation from Tulane University, where he earned a degree in engineering. He served as platoon commander in 1st Marine Division, and later as a battalion operations officer in 2nd Reconnaissance Battalion during Operation Desert Storm.
As a field grade officer, he served as an instructor at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona; instructor at III MEF Special Operations Training Group; and on the Joint Staff as a policy planner in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, J-5.
While serving as assistant division commander of 2nd Marine Division, he was appointed to the rank of brigadier general. He then deployed to Kosovo, where he served as chief of staff for KFOR Headquarters in Pristina. From 2009 to 2011 he served at Headquarters Marine Corps as director of operations in Plans, Policies, and Operations.
Berger also holds a master’s degree in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and a master of science degree in military studies. His military education includes the Army Infantry Officer Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and the Marine Corps School of Advanced Warfighting. He is a graduate of the Army Ranger School, Jumpmaster School, Navy Dive School and Marine Corps Amphibious Reconnaissance School.