Senate panel OKs Obama choice for U.S. commander

US Marine General Joseph F. Dunford, Jr. speaks during a hearing of the Senate Armed Service Committee on Capitol Hill November 15, 2012 in Washington, DC.

WASHINGTON The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved President Barack Obama's choice to be the top commander in Afghanistan.

By voice vote Thursday, the panel cleared the way for the full Senate to vote on Gen. Joseph Dunford, the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps who had directed combat forces in Iraq.

Dunford would replace Gen. John Allen, the current commander in Afghanistan who has been nominated to take charge in Europe.

Allen's nomination is suddenly on hold as he's ensnared in the sex scandal that had led to the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus.