31 May 2011

Obama nominates Iraq general as top military adviser

2:41 pm on 31 May 2011

US President Barack Obama has nominated General Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - the most senior post in the American armed services.

A veteran of the Iraq war, General Dempsey will succeed Navy Admiral Mike Mullen as the president's top military adviser on 30 September, the BBC reports.

General Dempsey also served as acting commander of the US Central Command, overseeing US military operations in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Central Asia.

If confirmed by the Senate, the general would be the top adviser as the scaling down of US forces in Iraq continues and troops in Afghanistan begin to come home later this year.

A BBC correspondent says General Dempsey is understood to be wary of hi-tech projections of future military needs; his experience in counter insurgency has led him to place a premium on boots on the ground.

The correspondent adds the biggest challenge may come from calls across the political spectrum for cuts to defence spending which makes up about 20% of the federal budget.

Mr Obama announced the new line-up of his top military leadership group in the Rose Garden of the White House before paying tribute to the nation's war dead at Arlington National Cemetery.