Sen. John Kerry stands tall as President Barack Obama's good soldier.
The Massachusetts Democrat has flown to Afghanistan and Pakistan numerous times to tamp down touchy diplomatic disputes - in a highly unusual role for the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Kerry has pushed the president's national security agenda in the Senate, albeit with mixed results, and skewered Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney at every opportunity before November's election.
Obama is expected to reward that work by nominating the 69-year-old Kerry to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton - an announcement could come this week.
Kerry's prospects soared last week when U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a top contender for the post, withdrew from consideration to avoid a fierce fight with Senate Republicans.