Obama picks Dempsey as top military officer

Reuters News
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Posted: May 30, 2011 10:28 AM
Obama picks Dempsey as top military officer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Monday nominated General Martin Dempsey, who commanded troops in the Iraq war, as the top U.S. military officer.

If confirmed by the Senate, Dempsey would replace Admiral Mike Mullen as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he steps down on October 1.

Obama made the high-profile pick in a White House ceremony just before heading to Arlington cemetery for a Memorial Day event to honor America's war dead.

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

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

Admiral James Winnefeld, commander of U.S. Northern command, was named as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

(Reporting by Caren Bohan and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Eric Beech)