Dempsey Career Reflects Adaptability, Creativity

WASHINGTON, May 30, 2011 — The man Pres­i­dent Barack Oba­ma has cho­sen to be the next chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has 37 years of expe­ri­ence and a rep­u­ta­tion as a cre­ative thinker.
If con­firmed by the Sen­ate, Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, 59, will shift from serv­ing as the Army chief of staff to chair­man when Navy Adm. Mike Mullen steps down at the end of Sep­tem­ber. Dempsey has served as Army chief since April.

As a brigadier gen­er­al, Dempsey com­mand­ed the 1st Armored Divi­sion when it arrived in Bagh­dad in 2003. What was expect­ed to be a short deploy­ment was extend­ed when in April 2004, forces loy­al to Shi’a cler­ic Muq­ta­da al Sadr launched an insur­rec­tion against multi­na­tion­al forces and the nascent Iraqi gov­ern­ment. The 1st Armored, which was load­ing up to return to Ger­many, was extend­ed for 90 days.

Dempsey’s per­for­mance dur­ing that hot spell earned kudos from retired Army Gen. Bar­ry McCaf­frey, who said in an Army Times inter­view that Dempsey “may be the best com­bat divi­sion com­man­der of the war over the last decade.”

Fol­low­ing his divi­sion com­mand, Dempsey became com­man­der of Multi­na­tion­al Secu­ri­ty Tran­si­tion Command—Iraq, help­ing put in place the Iraqi army and police. He fol­lowed that with a stint as the deputy com­man­der of U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, step­ping up as act­ing com­man­der when Navy Adm. William Fal­lon resigned, and lat­er served as com­man­der of the Army’s Train­ing and Doc­trine Com­mand.

Dempsey was not just a care­tak­er com­man­der. “While serv­ing as act­ing Cent­com com­man­der, Gen­er­al Dempsey reor­ga­nized the head­quar­ters, pub­lished new the­ater strat­e­gy and cam­paign plans, all the while man­ag­ing the rota­tions and deploy­ments of tens of thou­sands of troops through­out his command’s [area of respon­si­bil­i­ty],” Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates said in April dur­ing Dempsey’s instal­la­tion as the Army chief of staff.

Dempsey was com­mis­sioned as an Armor offi­cer fol­low­ing grad­u­a­tion from the U.S. Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my at West Point, N.Y in 1974. He will be the first chair­man who is not a Viet­nam War vet­er­an since Army Gen. Lyman Lem­nitzer in 1962.

Dempsey spent much of his career in Ger­many, train­ing in Air­Land Bat­tle doc­trine to stop a pos­si­ble Sovi­et inva­sion at the Ful­da Gap. Yet he also served as the train­ing advis­er for the Sau­di Ara­bi­an Nation­al Guard Mod­ern­iza­tion Pro­gram.

Dempsey takes change in stride. In a round table dis­cus­sion with reporters after becom­ing Army chief of staff, the gen­er­al said he needs sol­diers to see that change is not some­thing to fear.

“All this is rou­tine and his­tor­i­cal,” he said. “But to them it’s new.

“I’m 59 years old, and I’ve heard this four times in my career,” Dempsey con­tin­ued, adding that he plans to issue a doc­u­ment that artic­u­lates some of that and calms the nerves of the force.

“The Army has been around for 235 years, and though it doesn’t always look the same from decade to decade, it always pro­vides the things the nation needs when it needs it,” he con­tin­ued. “I per­son­al­ly think the Army ought to think of itself as an orga­ni­za­tion that will adapt about every five to sev­en years. It’s not just about new equip­ment, but new orga­ni­za­tions and struc­tures.”

The younger gen­er­a­tion embraces adap­ta­tion and change bet­ter than old­er gen­er­a­tions, he said, “and I’m going to test that the­o­ry.”

In addi­tion to a bachelor’s degree from West Point, the gen­er­al also earned a master’s degree from Duke Uni­ver­si­ty in North Car­oli­na.

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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