US Defence Secretary Robert Gates is to recommend Adm Michael Mullen as the new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the country's top military post.
Admiral Mullen is chief of US naval operations
Mr Gates said he would not seek another term for the current chairman, Gen Peter Pace, to avoid a "divisive" confirmation process in Congress.
Gen Pace has been involved in all the controversial decisions surrounding the US military presence in Iraq.
Adm Mullen is at the moment chief of naval operations.
The Bush administration has faced several challenges on Iraq in recent months from Congress, which is now controlled by the Democrats.
Mr Gates said he had intended to seek another two-year term for Gen Pace but chose to avoid a "a backward-looking and very contentious process".
He said Adm Mullen had the "vision, strategic insight and integrity to lead America's armed forces".