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SLDN Profiles: General Martin Dempsey, Chief of Staff for the United States Army

General Martin DempseyEditor’s note: As we approach repeal of the discriminatory “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, SLDN is profiling key military and defense leaders, who will be influencing and making key post-repeal decisions. We continue our series with Chief of Staff for the United States Army, General Martin Dempsey.

General Martin Dempsey will assume the role of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) on October 1, 2011, replacing Admiral Michael Mullen who is set to retire September 30. General Dempsey will be instrumental in ensuring that the military continues to effectively implement the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), which officially takes place September 20, 2011.

General Dempsey currently serves as the 37th Chief of Staff for the United States Army, appointed to that role April 11, 2011. The following month President Obama nominated him to serve as JCS Chairman, and he was confirmed for this position by the Senate on August 2.

Beginning a military career spanning 36 years, General Dempsey earned his degree from the United States Military Academy in 1974 before receiving his commission as an Armor Officer. He served first with the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment in United States Army Europe and then with the 10th Cavalry at Fort Carson as his first troop commands.

Earning a Master’s Degree in English from Duke University, he went on to teach at West Point as an instructor and Assistant Professor. He later received Masters Degrees from the Command and General Staff College in 1987 and National War College in 1995.

In 1991, General Dempsey fought in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, deployed with the Third Armored Division. From 1996 to 1998 he was the 67th Colonel of the Third Armored Cavalry Regiment before serving on the Joint Staff as an Assistant Deputy Director in J-5 and as Special Assistant to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Joint Staff, in Washington, D.C.

General Dempsey has also served in Riyadh (2001-2003) as the Program Manager for the Saudi Arabian National Guard Modernization Program and took command of the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad, Iraq in 2003. Fourteen months later, he redeployed the division to Germany before deploying to Iraq again for two years starting in 2005. Serving as the Deputy Commander and then Acting Commander of U.S. Central Command (2007-2008), he commanded US Army Training and Doctrine Command prior to becoming Chief of Staff for the United States Army this past April.

This remarkable leader has demonstrated that DADT repeal is not the threat to unit cohesion that some opponents claimed it would be. During his confirmation hearing as the Army Chief of Staff General Dempsey answered a question regarding DADT repeal saying, “The Army is on track with its implementation plan in accordance with DOD guidance and timelines, and I believe the Army is fully capable of executing the implementation. Our plan includes periodic assessments to review and consider feedback from the field throughout the implementation.”

Awarded multiple decorations, General Dempsey has earned many prestigious commendations including the Defense Distinguished Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Distinguished Service Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Bronze Star with “V” Device, the Combat Action Badge, and the Parachutist Badge.

General Dempsey has three children – Chris, Megan, and Caitlin – with his high school sweetheart and wife Deanie.

SLDN looks forward to welcoming General Martin Dempsey to his new position, and we thank him for his extraordinary service on behalf of all brave men and women in uniform.

By Paul DeMiglio, SLDN Senior Communications Manager |

1 Comments

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Bill on August 24, 2011 at 04.26 pm

I think SLDN is wise to follow changes in military leadership.  I hope in 27 days when DADT ends that General Dempsey proves to be as fine a leader as Adm. Mullen.  My guess is that on Sept 21 our armed services will look no different than right now—only that an important minority of servicepersons will have become full Americans—with strong support from most 4-stars.