New U.S. Military Chief Experienced in Middle East

Posted September 30th, 2011 at 3:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Army General Martin Dempsey, the new U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has extensive experience in the Middle East, although less in Afghanistan, where he is to oversee a transition of power to Afghan forces.

Sworn in Friday outside Washington, Dempsey is seen as an extroverted leader who is proud of his working-class, Irish Catholic heritage.

Dempsey attended the Army's West Point military academy, graduating in 1974. He later earned a graduate degree at Duke University became an English professor at West Point.

In 1991 he served in Iraq with an armored division during the war known as Desert Storm.

Between that and the second war in Iraq — Operation Iraqi Freedom — Dempsey rose to become special assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

He then served two tours of duty in Iraq before becoming the acting commander of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2011, Dempsey's career took two swift leaps forward. U.S. President Barack Obama nominated him to become the next U.S. Army Chief of Staff, succeeding General George Casey. After Senate confirmation, he took that position in April.

Just a month later, President Obama nominated him to replace the retiring Navy Admiral Michael Mullen as the nation's top military officer and adviser to the president. The Senate confirmed him, and he assumed the post Friday.