Obama nom­i­nates Dempsey to head Joint Chiefs of Staff

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVE BOYER

In the lat­est shake-up of his na­tional se­cu­rity team, Pres­i­dent Obama on May 30 named Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, less than two months af­ter el­e­vat­ing him to the Army’s top post.

“Martin Dempsey is one of our most re­spected and com­bat­tested gen­er­als,” Mr. Obama said in a Me­mo­rial Day an­nounce­ment in the White House Rose Gar­den. “I ex­pect him to push all our forces to con­tinue adapt­ing and in­no­vat­ing to be ready for the mis­sions of to­day and to­mor­row.”

The pres­i­dent also named Adm. James A. Win­nefeld, head of the U.S. North­ern Com­mand, as vice chair­man of the Joint Chiefs, and Gen. Ray­mond T. Odierno as Army chief of staff.

The ap­point­ments all re­quire Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion.

Mr. Obama made the moves at a piv­otal time for the Pen­tagon, which is in­volved in a draw­down of op­er­a­tions in Iraq, fac­ing a sum­mer of re­newed fight­ing in Afghanistan and try­ing to pro­tect its flank against deep bud­get cuts in an era of deficit re­duc­tion.

“It’s es­sen­tial that this tran­si­tion be seam­less and that we stay fo­cused on the ur­gent na­tional se­cu­rity chal­lenges be­fore us,” said Mr. Obama, flanked by out­go­ing De­fense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates and his three nom­i­nees.

Gen. Dempsey, 59, was sworn in as Army chief of staff on April 11. Mr. Obama said his stint as chief “may go down as one of the short­est in Army his­tory,” but he added that “it’s your life­time of ac­com­plish­ment that brings us here to­day.”

Gen. Dempsey emerged as the lead­ing can­di­date in the past few weeks as the prospects faded for Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, the cur­rent vice chair­man.

The four-star Gen. Cartwright worked with the pres­i­dent on the top-se­cret op­er­a­tion to kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Obama re­port­edly was lean­ing to­ward choos­ing him to head the Joint Chiefs, but Gen. Cartwright’s pro­mo­tion was un­done by a se­ries of rev­e­la­tions.

An in­spec­tor gen­eral in­ves­ti­gated him on claims of im­pro­pri­ety in­volv­ing a fe­male sub­or­di­nate two years ago. Al­though he was cleared, the rev­e­la­tion of the probe this year cast a cloud over him. Mil­i­tary sources have told The Wash­ing­ton Times that his wife, from whom he is sep­a­rated, also has made dam­ag­ing ac­cusa- tions to fe­male sen­a­tors about his con­duct around women.

In ad­di­tion, The Times and other news out­lets have re­ported that Gen. Cartwright was on the los­ing end of a battle among Mr. Obama’s top na­tional se­cu­rity ad­vis­ers on whether to send more or fewer troops to Afghanistan.

Mr. Obama said he has “ben­e­fited enor­mously” from the coun­sel of Gen. Cartwright, call­ing him by his nick­name, “Hoss.” His term on the Joint Chiefs ends this sum­mer.

“Hoss is that rare com­bi­na­tion of tech­ni­cal ex­pert, from cy­ber to mis­sile de­fense, and strate­gic thinker, whether it was up­dat­ing our nu­clear pos­ture or pre­par­ing our mil­i­tary for 21stcen­tury mis­sions,” the pres­i­dent said. “I’ll al­ways be per­son­ally grate­ful to Hoss for his friend­ship and part­ner­ship.”

Gen. Dempsey most re­cently headed the Army’s Train­ing and Doc­trine Com­mand. He served two com­bat tours in Iraq, in­clud­ing com­mand of the 1st Ar­mored Divi­sion in 2003 and 2004. He also served as acting com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand.

“Hav­ing trained Iraqi forces, he knows that na­tions must also take re­spon­si­bil­ity for their own se­cu­rity,” Mr. Obama said. “Hav­ing served as acting com­man­der of Cen­tral Com­mand, he un­der­stands that in Iraq and Afghanistan, se­cu­rity gains and po­lit­i­cal progress must go hand in hand.”

The new Joint Chiefs of Staff chair­man will re­place Adm. Mike Mullen, who will re­tire Oct. 1.

Mr. Obama has reshuf­fled his na­tional se­cu­rity team this year. Last month, the pres­i­dent se- lected CIA Di­rec­tor Leon E. Panetta to re­place Mr. Gates, who is set to re­tire at the end of June. Mr. Obama also chose Gen. David H. Pe­traeus, who is wrap­ping up his com­mand of forces in Afghanistan, to re­place Mr. Panetta at the CIA.

Gen. Dempsey and Gen. Pe­traeus were class­mates at West Point and grad­u­ated in 1974.

Adm. Win­nefeld’s ser­vice in­cludes com­mand of the USS En­ter­prise dur­ing com­bat op­er­a­tions in Afghanistan in sup­port of Op­er­a­tion En­dur­ing Free­dom, and com­mand of the U.S. 6th Fleet. He also has aided in the U.S. re­sponse to the nu­clear cri­sis in Ja­pan.

“Sandy knows that we have to be pre­pared for the full range of chal­lenges,” the pres­i­dent said, also us­ing his mil­i­tary man’s nick­name, short for his mid­dle name “Alexan­der.”

Mr. Obama praised Gen. Odierno as “one of the Army’s most ac­com­plished sol­diers.” In Iraq, he com­manded the troops who cap­tured Sad­dam Hus­sein.

“Af­ter years on the front lines, Ray un­der­stands what the Army must do to pre­vail in to­day’s wars, to pre­pare for the fu­ture and to pre­serve the readi­ness of the sol­diers and the fam­i­lies,” the pres­i­dent said.


CALL TO DUTY: Army Gen. Mar tin E. Dempsey (cen­ter).

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