WASHINGTON—Before recessing this week, the Senate, by voice vote, confirmed U.S. Army Gen. Martin Dempsey to serve as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff—the nation’s highest military post.
Dempsey currently serves as the Chief of Staff of the Army, the highest-ranking officer in the U.S. Army. He will be replacing Adm. Michael Mullen—who has served as chairman since September 2007—and will assume the post after Mullen retires in September.
Dempsey is a veteran of the first Persian Gulf War, also known as Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm. He also commanded the 1st Armored Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom after the initial invasion, spending 14 months in Iraq from 2003 to 2004.
Also confirmed to new military positions within the Joint Chiefs of Staff were Adm. James Winnefeld, who will become the next vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Adm. Jonathan Greenert, who is slated to be the next chief of Naval Operations, the highest-ranking Navy officer; and Gen. Raymond Odierno, who will become the new Army chief of staff.
Gen. Odierno is well-known for commanding coalition forces in Iraq from 2006 through 2010. As a subordinate of Gen. David Petraeus, he was one of the primary architects of the Iraq “surge” strategy that is usually credited with turning the war in that country around.The Joint Chiefs of Staff consist of the highest-ranking military members within the Department of Defense. While they do not possess any command authority, their role is to serve as military advisers to the president and the Defense Department civilian leadership in military, defense, and national security matters.
The newly appointed officers, along with new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, will lead a Pentagon that faces many challenges in the coming years, the most significant of which include handling the ongoing foreign wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the face of potentially steep cuts to the defense budget.