'Soldier's Soldier' Becomes 37th Army Chief of Staff (April 15, 2011)
ARLINGTON, Va. (Army News Service, April 11, 2011) - Gen. Martin E. Dempsey was sworn in as the Army's 37th chief of staff April 11, surrounded by an enormous family, mentors, his classmates from the 1974 graduating class at West Point, the secretary of the Army and the secretary of Defense.
"I'm confident that Martin Dempsey will bring the same passion and dedication to building the Army's next generation of leaders, guiding them with strength and vision as he has to every other position during his impressive career," said Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates during the ceremony on Summerall Field at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall.
"Marty, you are truly a Soldier's Soldier, and I know the Army is in able hands," Gates said.
Dempsey's first assignment was in the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, where he served as a scout and support platoon leader and squadron adjutant. Following other duties, he first earned a master's degree in English at Duke University and taught at West Point, and then he earned another master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies at the National War College.
Dempsey served as the commander of the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad in 2003. He then helped train the Iraqi army and police as commander of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq.
His last assignment was as commander of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, after stepping up as acting commander of U.S. Central Command.
While the seriousness of Dempsey's new role was on everyone's mind, the day was sparked with humor not unlike a Dean Martin roast.
After expressing heartfelt condolences to Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and his family, Secretary of the Army John McHugh told the audience that while goodbyes are an inescapable part of Army life, it's been especially difficult, given all that has passed in recent days in the Casey family.
Then, with a nod to Dean and the roast, McHugh lifted the spirits of all when he remembered the good times with his friend Casey.
"There's one thing we never could agree upon, but that's going to change with General Dempsey at the helm. Marty, finally I thank God there's another Yankee fan on board," McHugh said, adding that the new chief's rendition of "New York, New York," brought down the house.
"His rise to this great height is yet another one of those classic American immigrant success stories. One can only imagine how different his life might have been had his family not decided to leave New Jersey and move across the river to New York state," McHugh said.
After the laughs subsided, McHugh said that he's grateful to have Dempsey as a partner in facing the challenges of a nation at war and the realities confronting an Army that is stressed, strained and facing vastly different times.
Secretary of the Army John McHugh swears in Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as the 37th chief of staff of the Army, at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Apr. 11, 2011. Dempsey succeeds Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the 36th chief of staff of the Army. Photo by D. Myles Cullen
The warm, sunny day gave proof that America's banner will yet wave when 1.5 pounds of powder shot forth from the three-inch guns of the Salute Guns Platoon, the flags were heralded by the Continental Color Guard, the traditional field music was played by The Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps, and the U.S. Army Ceremonial Band marched the field - all members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).
With tongue in cheek, Dempsey observed that April 11, over the years has seen some of the worst defeats. On this day in history, Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated the throne and was exiled to Elba Island. On this day, too, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was fired by President Harry S. Truman, he said.
Dempsey said he would work hard to change the course of this date.
"My commitment and expectation to this great Army is that we will work on strengthening the bond of trust among those with whom we work, among whom we support and among those who march with us into battle. On that foundation of trust, we will overcome any challenge that we confront in the future," he said.
To sum up, Dempsey called on the words of Ben Franklin who said, "well done is better than well said."
"So, beginning right now I'll get to work on delivering on some of these promises," Dempsey said.