Dempsey was to be sworn in Friday as successor to Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, who is retiring today.
At his Senate confirmation hearing in July, Dempsey was asked whether he agrees with Mullen’s oft-repeated assertion that the debt crisis is the single biggest threat to American national security.
“I don’t agree exactly with that,” Dempsey said.
In his view, developed in the course of a 37-year career that includes two tours of command in Iraq and one in Saudi Arabia, American global power and influence are derived from three strengths: military, diplomatic and economic.
“You can’t pick or choose,” he said; none of the three is paramount.
It’s too early to know how much change Dempsey will foster in his role as the top U.S. military officer, but it’s certain that pressures to cut the defense budget and what that implies for the military and for American foreign policy will be a dominant issue from Day One of his tenure.
So while he sees the debt problem as highly important, Dempsey believes the United States cannot be successful in managing its national security and international affairs without asserting influence through a combination of a powerful military, an effective diplomatic corps and a sound economy.
His will be among the key voices in recommending how to cut hundreds of billions of dollars from the defense budget over the coming decade.
By law, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs serves as the senior military adviser to the president, the president’s National Security Council and the secretary of defense. But the chairman is not directly in the chain of command that extends from the president to the secretary of defense to commanders in the field. He is the public face of the U.S. military and weighs in on major policy decisions but is not actually in charge of any troops.
Dempsey is the first Army general to hold the job since Hugh Shelton retired in 2001.
One of the legacies of Mullen’s four years as chairman was his less-than-successful effort to persuade Pakistan’s military chief, Gen. Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, to do more to contain and disable violent extremist groups like al-Qaida and the Haqqani network that use Pakistan as a haven.
In the final week of his tenure, Mullen made his biggest headline by telling a Senate committee that the Haqqanis are a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s intelligence service and by asserting that Pakistani intelligence supported and facilitated a string of Haqqani attacks on Americans in Afghanistan. His statement infuriated the Pakistan government and arguably set back, at least temporarily, an already frayed U.S.-Pakistani relationship.Read more at AAJ tv