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Obama nominates Army's head to lead the Joint Chiefs

2011-05-31 14:57 小马过河 admin

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摘要:President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Army Gen.

President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Army Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, putting the finishing touches on his new national security team and starting what the administration hopes will be a gradual U.S. withdrawal from the war in Afghanistan.

In a Rose Garden presentation, Obama said he was moving Dempsey from Army chief of staff to the higher post overseeing all Pentagon and military operations, selecting him in part because of his past two tours helping lead the war in Iraq.

Dempsey took over as Army chief of staff in April.

“Marty, your tenure as chief may go down as one of the shortest in Army history. But it’s your lifetime of accomplishment that brings us here today,” Obama said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Dempsey will replace Adm. Mike Mullen, who is retiring when his term expires in September.

As Obama’s senior military adviser, Dempsey must balance the administration’s desire for the Afghanistan troop withdrawal with the Pentagon’s desire to keep as many troops there as long as possible to preserve fragile security gains. Obama has said he will start the withdrawal in July, and he expects all U.S. forces to be gone and the Afghan government to take over by 2014.

“We have much to do,” Obama said, mindful not only of Afghanistan and Iraq but also of the NATO campaign in Libya. But he said he has faith in Dempsey, calling him “one of our nation’s most respected combat-tested veterans.”

The president noted that Dempsey and the Defense Department will oversee some “difficult budget choices” in military spending that are likely to come up in the months ahead while also “keeping our military the finest fighting force in the world.”

In Iraq, Dempsey commanded the 1st Armored Division in 2003 and 2004, when the insurgency was gaining intensity. The division’s deployment was extended for several months after fighting erupted in Baghdad and Shiite Muslim militias stormed police and other government buildings to the south. Dempsey oversaw the retaking of the towns.

He returned to Iraq in 2006 to take charge of the training of Iraqi army and police. After receiving a fourth star, he was named acting head of U.S. Central Command.

Dempsey graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1974.

Obama’s first choice to be Joint Chiefs chairman, Marine Gen. James Cartwright, the current vice chairman, fell out of the running because of concerns that his management style might complicate his Senate confirmation.

Dempsey, a former English professor at West Point, is considered a popular, thoughtful officer who has questioned the Pentagon’s belief that expensive, high-tech weapons systems are the key to winning the insurgencies the U.S. is fighting.

Also Monday, the president nominated Navy Adm. James Winnefeld as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs — which Obama said means that for the first time, both top leaders of the Joint Chiefs will have led combat troops after 9/11.

Winnefeld heads the Northern Command, based in Colorado Springs, a headquarters responsible for U.S. homeland defense.

Army Gen. Ray Odierno — like Dempsey, an Iraq war veteran — was named to replace Dempsey as Army chief of staff.

Odierno, an artillery officer who commanded the 4th Infantry Division in Iraq, was criticized for his heavy-handed tactics in seeking to suppress the insurgency near Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s hometown.

But his soldiers helped capture Saddam Hussein, and Odierno replaced Army Gen. David Petraeus as overall commander in Iraq during the U.S. surge. He was credited with executing an innovative counterinsurgency campaign that significantly lessened violence and helped break the insurgency from 2008 to 2010.

The new leaders round out Obama’s rejiggered top Defense structure, with CIA Director Leon Panetta succeeding Robert Gates as defense secretary and Petraeus, now the top on-site commander in Afghanistan, returning home to run the CIA.

Noting the significance of the Memorial Day holiday, the president said: “The men and women of our armed forces are the best our nation has to offer. They deserve nothing but the absolute best in return. And that includes leaders who will guide them, and support their families, with wisdom and strength and compassion.”



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