Obama renominates top two at Joint Chiefs

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Keeping two uniformed military leaders on a national security team in flux, President Obama said Wednesday he will renominate Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr. as vice chairman.

The reappointments would provide some stability on Mr. Obama’s national security roster of advisers, which has been going through some high-profile changes early in his second term. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel took over at the Pentagon this spring for the retiring Leon E. Panetta, and the president’s top national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, is leaving next month. He will be replaced by U.N. Ambassador Susan E. Rice.

The two-year military posts require Senate confirmation. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs can serve up to six years, at the pleasure of the president.

“These two superb officers have led our military and their families with great distinction, deep conviction and absolute integrity over the past two years and I am confident in saying that our nation is safer and more secure today because of their visionary, dedicated and tireless leadership,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.

Steven Bucci, director of foreign policy studies at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said it’s normal for presidents to renominate Joint Chiefs leaders to their posts, and these two have publicly supported Mr. Obama’s planned defense cuts.

“He’s got a fairly pliable bunch of generals and admirals who are saying ‘Yes sir, we can handle your budget-driven strategy,’” Mr. Bucci said. “There’s no particular upside to bringing in new people on the uniformed side of the equation unless you absolutely have to. So it’s probably pretty wise to maintain those two in place.”

Gen. Dempsey, 61, succeeded Adm. Mike Mullen as chairman in October 2011, six months after he became Army chief of staff.

Last month, Gen. Dempsey voiced agreement with Mr. Obama over the president’s priority of reducing incidents of sexual abuse in the military.

“We’re losing the confidence of the women who serve that we can solve this problem,” Gen. Dempsey said as Mr. Obama summoned the Pentagon’s top brass to the White House for a meeting on the problem. “That’s a crisis.”

Mr. Hagel said he enthusiastically endorsed the president’s decision to keep Gen. Dempsey and Adm. Winnefeld during what he called a “challenging” time for the U.S.

“They’re the right two leaders, and the four months I have been here, they have been immensely helpful to me in every way,” Mr. Hagel said.

On Wednesday, the president said Gen. Dempsey “often talks about trust as the foundational quality of the profession of arms — trust between leaders, those they lead, the institutions they represent, and the nation they serve.”

Adm. Winnefeld, 57, became vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in August 2011.

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