WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama nominated Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and promoted two other senior military leaders Monday, completing an overhaul of his national security team in advance of his re-election campaign.
Obama's appointments will usher in an entire new leadership at the Pentagon, where for the first 2 1/2 years of his term he had kept most of the brass from his predecessor, President George W. Bush.
Dempsey, who served two war tours as a commander in Iraq, was not believed to be Obama's first choice. For more than a year, the president had been leaning toward Marine Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, one of his most trusted military advisers. But Obama informed Cartwright on May 21 that he wouldn't get the job because of opposition from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and outgoing chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, who butted heads with Cartwright over strategy for the war in Afghanistan.
In turning to Dempsey, Obama had to pull him out of a high-ranking position -- Army chief of staff -- that he had appointed him to just last month. Obama called Dempsey "one of our nation's most respected and combat-tested generals."
To fill the fresh vacancy of Army chief of staff, Obama said he would appoint Gen. Ray Odierno, another veteran four-star commander from Iraq who has served for the past year as head of the Joint Forces Command, based in Norfolk, Va.
Obama also named Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld Jr., head of the military's Northern Command, to take over as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
All of the appointments are subject to confirmation by the Senate.