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General who led Camp Pendleton Marines into combat named top assistant to secretary of defense

March 5, 2011 |  8:09 am

Kellyx  Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly, who led Camp Pendleton Marines into combat in  Baghdad and Tikrit in 2003 and Fallouja in 2004 and later served a year as the top Marine in Iraq, has been named the senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the Pentagon announced Friday.

The selection was made by President Obama, upon Gates' recommendation.

Kelly has been serving as commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North based in New Orleans.

Kelly's son Lt. Robert Kelly, assigned to the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Battalion, 5th Regiment, was killed in combat in the Sangin district of Afghanistan in November. His  older son, Capt. John Kelly, is serving at Twentynine Palms. Both sons served in combat in Iraq.

--Tony Perry in San Diego

Photo: Lt. Gen. John F. Kelly Credit: U.S. Marine Corps