President Barack Obama said Monday that he is nominating Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling him “one of our nation’s most respected and combat-tested generals.”
“Having trained Iraqi forces, he knows nations must take responsibility for their own security In Iraq,” Obama said in a Memorial Day announcement in the Rose Garden. “He understands that in Iraq and Afghanistan, security gains and political progress must go hand in hand.”
“I expect him to push all our forces to continue adapting and innovating to be ready for the missions of today and tomorrow,” Obama added.
Dempsey’s name emerged last week as Obama’s pick to succeed Admiral Mike Mullen, who is set to retire at the end of September. The president also nominated Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld, the commander of Northern Command, as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Joint Forces Command, to replace Dempsey as Army chief of staff.
“The men and women of our armed forces are the best our nation has to offer, and they deserve nothing but the absolute best in return – that includes leaders who will guide them … with wisdom, strength and compassion,” Obama said. “I found these qualities in the leaders who will complete our team at the Pentagon and whom I’m proud to announce today.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates – who will leave his post at the end of June – and White House national security adviser Tom Donilon also attended the announcement.
Dempsey’s four-year term as Army chief of staff only began less than two months ago on April 11, which Obama made note of during his remarks. “I was proud to nominate Marty as Army chief of staff, and I realize he only assumed that position last month,” Obama said. “Marty, your tenure as chief may go down as one of the shortest in army’s history. But it’s your lifetime of accomplishments that brings us here today.”
If confirmed by the Senate, Dempsey will become the nation’s highest ranking officer in the U.S. armed forces and a key national security adviser to the president. Prior to his current role, Dempsey was the commanding general of the Army Training and Doctrine Command.
Dempsey’s promotion is the latest in a slew of personnel changes in Obama’s national security team. Last month, the president announced that CIA Director Leon Panetta would replace Gates as defense secretary, and that U.S. commander in Afghanistan David Petraeus would take over Panetta’s role at the CIA.
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