Change of command: Kayani’s ex-classmate to replace Mike Mullen

By Agencies

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama on Monday nominated General Martin Dempsey, a former classmate of Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, as the top US military officer.

Dempsey is an extrovert with an irreverent sense of humor and a penchant for singing in public. PHOTO: AFP

If confirmed by the US Senate, Dempsey, who commanded troops in the Iraq war, would replace Admiral Mike Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he steps down on Oct 1.

At a White House ceremony, Obama hailed Dempsey as “one of our nation’s respected and combat-tested generals.”

Obama made the choice for the high-profile post just before heading to Arlington Cemetery for a Memorial Day event to honour America’s war dead.

An Irish-American who taught English literature to cadets at West Point, the 59-year-old graduated from the same class at the military academy as another four-star general, David Petraeus.

Apart from Petraeus, Dempsey had another prominent classmate as a younger officer.

At the US Army’s Staff College in the 1980s, Dempsey got to know Ashfaq Parvez Kayani – now Pakistan’s army chief.

Gen Dampsey’s selection comes as Obama is facing growing pressure to accelerate a troop drawdown in Afghanistan and is preparing to complete a withdrawal from Iraq.

Echoing remarks Dempsey himself recently made to US troops, Obama vowed: “We will provide whatever it takes to achieve our objectives in the current fight.”

Dempsey is currently Army chief of staff. Obama said he was naming General Raymond Odierno to succeed Dempsey in that job.


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