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Obama Announces Picks for Chairman, Vice Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff

Gen. Martin E. Dempsey and Adm. James A. "Sandy" Winnefeld, Jr.; Photo: Defense.gov

President Barack Obama announced his pick yesterday for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army, Gen. Martin Dempsey. Now serving as Army chief of staff, Dempsey will take over for current Chairman Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, whose term ends Sept. 30.

Obama also announced he will nominate Navy Adm. James A. “Sandy” Winnefeld Jr., as vice chairman.

In a Rose Garden ceremony, Obama praised the military leaders’ depth of experience. “Between them, they bring deep experience in virtually every domain — land, air, space, sea, cyber,” he said. “Both of them have the respect and the trust of our troops on the frontlines, our friends in Congress, and allies and partners abroad. And both of them have my full confidence.”

Dempsey, 59, has 37 years of experience in the armed forces. As a brigadier general, he commanded the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad at the start of the Iraq War in 2003. Dempsey also served as the commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq, helping to train Iraqi army and police.

He also served as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command and later was commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command.

The president’s most recent picks are the latest and likely the last of a series of personnel changes to his national security team that began earlier this spring when he announced plans to name a replacement for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who will retire June 30.

Obama selected CIA Director Leon Panetta to head the Pentagon. To fill the impending vacancy at the intelligence agency, the president selected Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command Gen. Raymond T. Odierno will be nominated to succeed Dempsey as Army chief of staff, the president announced yesterday.

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