Martin Dempsey

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Martin Dempsey
General Martin E. Dempsey, CJCS, official portrait 2012.jpg
Nickname(s) Marty
Born (1952-03-14) March 14, 1952 (age 63)
Jersey City, New Jersey, U.S.[1]
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1974–present
Rank Army-USA-OF-09.svg General
Commands held Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Army Chief of Staff
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command
United States Central Command
Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq
3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment
1st Armored Division
Battles/wars Persian Gulf War
Iraq War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Army Distinguished Service Medal (4)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (3)
Bronze Star (2) with Valor

Martin Edward Dempsey (born March 14, 1952), sometimes known as Marty Dempsey, is a United States Army general and the 18th and current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He previously served as the 37th Chief of Staff of the Army from April 11, 2011, to September 7, 2011. Prior to that, he served as Commanding General, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, from December 8, 2008, to April 11, 2011, as Acting Commander, U.S. Central Command, from March 24, 2008, to October 30, 2008, as Deputy Commander, U.S. Central Command, from August 2007 to March 23, 2008, and as Commanding General, Multi-National Security Transition Command – Iraq (MNSTC-I), from August 2005 to August 2007. As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Dempsey is currently the highest-ranking military officer in all of the United States Armed Forces. Dempsey assumed his current assignment on October 1, 2011.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

Dempsey was born on March 14, 1952, and attended John S. Burke Catholic High School in Goshen, New York. Dempsey is Irish American.[3][4][5] Following high school, Dempsey attended the United States Military Academy at West Point and graduated with the Class of 1974. In his class were three other future four-star generals, David Petraeus, Walter L. Sharp and Keith B. Alexander. He has a Master's degree in literature from Duke University, where he wrote a thesis on the Irish literary revival.[6] Dempsey's four grandparents were born in the counties of Sligo, Donegal, Mayo and Roscommon in Ireland. He learned a small amount of Irish while spending his summers in Ireland as a child.[6][7]


Dempsey received a commission as an Armor officer upon graduation from the United States Military Academy in 1974. As a company-grade officer, he served in 1st Squadron, 2d Armored Cavalry Regiment as the S-1 OIC. He went on to be the Executive Officer of the 3rd Brigade 3rd Armored Division during Operation Desert Shield/Storm. As Lieutenant Colonel he commanded the 4th Battalion of the 67th Armored Regiment "Bandits" from 1992–1995 in the 1st Armored Division in Friedberg, Hesse, Germany.[8]

In June 2003, then Major General Dempsey assumed command of 1st Armored Division. He succeeded Ricardo S. Sanchez who was promoted to Lieutenant General, as Corps Commander V Corps. Dempsey's command of the 1st Armored Division lasted until July 2005 and included 13 months in Iraq, from June 2003 to July 2004. While in Iraq, 1st Armored Division, in addition to its own brigades, had operational command over the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment and a brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division; the command, called "Task Force Iron" in recognition of the Division's nickname, "Old Ironsides", was the largest division-level command in the history of the United States Army.[9]

Dempsey talks with U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors in March 2013.

It was during this time that the U.S. intervention in Iraq changed dramatically as Fallujah fell to Sunni extremists and supporters of Muqtada al-Sadr built their strength and rose up against American forces. Then Major General Dempsey and his command assumed responsibility for the Area of Operations in Baghdad as the insurgency incubated, grew, and exploded. General Dempsey has been described by Thomas Ricks in his book "Fiasco": "In the capital itself, the 1st Armored Division, after Sanchez assumed control of V Corps, was led by Maj. Gen. Martin Dempsey, was generally seen as handling a difficult (and inherited) job well, under the global spotlight of Baghdad."

On March 27, 2007, Lieutenant General Dempsey was transferred from commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq, and reassigned as deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

On February 5, 2008, Dempsey was nominated to head the U.S. Army, Europe/Seventh Army, and was nominated for promotion to four-star general upon Senate approval.

On March 11, 2008, Dempsey's commander, Admiral William J. Fallon, retired from active service. U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates accepted this as effective on March 31. Dempsey took over command as acting commander CENTCOM.

On March 13, 2008, Dempsey was confirmed by the United States Senate as Commander, U.S. Army, Europe/Seventh Army.[10] However due, to Admiral Fallon's unexpected retirement, Dempsey never took command of U.S. Army, Europe/Seventh Army.

On July 11, 2008, Dempsey was nominated to take command of U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command while Lieutenant General Carter F. Ham replaced his nomination to command the U.S. Army, Europe/Seventh Army.[11]

On December 8, 2008, Dempsey assumed command of United States Army Training and Doctrine Command.[12]

Dempsey and Lt. General Benny Gantz, Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces visiting the Yad VaShem Holocaust Memorial Museum in Jerusalem, Israel, where Dempsey paid respect to the memory of Holocaust victims on January 20, 2012.[13][14]

On January 6, 2011, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced that he would recommend that the President nominate General Dempsey to succeed General George Casey as the Army Chief of Staff.[15] On February 8, 2011, Gates announced that President Barack Obama nominated Dempsey to be the 37th Chief of Staff of the United States Army.[16] On March 3, 2011, Dempsey testified before the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services,[17] and on March 15, 2011, the committee affirmatively reported Dempsey's nomination.[18] On March 16, 2011, the Senate confirmed Dempsey's nomination by unanimous consent.[19] On April 11, 2011, Dempsey was sworn in as Chief of Staff of the United States Army at a ceremony at Fort Myer.

With Admiral Michael Mullen set to retire as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in September 2011, U.S. President Obama needed to select his replacement. The Vice-Chairman, Marine General James Cartwright, who was initially believed to be the front runner for the job, had fallen out of favor among senior officials in the Defense Department. Obama administration officials revealed on May 26, 2011, that the President would nominate Dempsey to the post of Chairman.[20] In August 2011, General Dempsey was confirmed by unanimous consent to succeed Admiral Mike Mullen as the next Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was sworn in as 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on October 1, 2011. On June 26, 2013, President Barack Obama re-nominated General Dempsey to serve a second two-year term as Chairman.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Dempsey is married to his high school sweetheart, Deanie.[22] They have three children: Chris, Megan, and Caitlin. Each has served in the United States Army. Chris remains on active duty. Martin and Deanie have nine grandchildren.[23]


Dates of rank[edit]

Rank Date
US Army O1 shoulderboard rotated.svg Second lieutenant June 5, 1974
US Army O2 shoulderboard rotated.svg First lieutenant June 5, 1976
US Army O3 shoulderboard rotated.svg Captain August 8, 1978
US Army O4 shoulderboard rotated.svg Major September 1, 1985
US Army O5 shoulderboard rotated.svg Lieutenant colonel April 1, 1991
US Army O6 shoulderboard rotated.svg Colonel September 1, 1996
US Army O7 shoulderboard rotated.svg Brigadier general August 1, 2001
US Army O8 shoulderboard rotated.svg Major general September 1, 2004
US Army O9 shoulderboard rotated.svg Lieutenant general September 8, 2005
US Army O10 shoulderboard rotated.svg General December 8, 2008

Awards and decorations[edit]

On December 7, 2011, Dempsey received the USO's Distinguished Service Award on behalf of all military members.[24]

Medals and ribbons[edit]

U.S. Military Decorations
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Distinguished Service Medal (with three bronze oak leaf clusters)
Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star (with Valor device and bronze oak leaf cluster)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Meritorious Service Medal (with two bronze oak leaf clusters)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Achievement Medal (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
U.S. Unit Awards
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Valorous Unit Award (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Superior Unit Award (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
U.S. Service (Campaign) Medals and Service and Training Ribbons
Bronze star
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (with two bronze service stars)
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal (with three bronze service stars)
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Army Service Ribbon
Award numeral 4.png Army Overseas Service Ribbon (with award numeral "4")
Foreign Awards
NATO Medal for service with ISAF
Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation - ISRAEL.svg Israeli Defense Forces' Chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Saudi Arabia)
Kuwait Liberation Medal (Kuwait)
Other Accoutrements
Combat Action Badge.svg Combat Action Badge
United States Air Force Parachutist Badge.svg Basic Parachutist Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
United States Army Staff Identification Badge.png Army Staff Identification Badge
1st US Armored Division SSI.svg 1st Armored Division Combat Service Identification Badge
USA - 3rd Calvary DUI.png 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia
ArmyOSB.jpg 7 Overseas Service Bars (reflecting 3½ years of overseas service in combat zones)


  1. Win, Learn, Focus, Adapt, Win Again – Article series for Army Magazine (AUSA). Oct. 2010 – Feb. 2011
  2. Inspired and humbled by the sacrifice of our troops - The Hill, May 24, 2011
  3. From the Chairman – Joint Force Quarterly no. 64. Jan. 2012
  4. From the Chairman – Joint Force Quarterly no. 65. Apr. 2012
  5. Preserving the bonds of trust - The Hill, May 22, 2012
  6. From the Chairman – Joint Force Quarterly no. 66. Jul. 2012
  7. From the Chairman: Building Tomorrow's Leaders - Joint Force Quarterly no. 67. Oct. 2012
  8. From the Chairman: Sustaining our Edge - Joint Force Quarterly no. 68. Jan. 2013
  9. From the Chairman: Risky Business - Joint Force Quarterly no. 69. Apr. 2013
  10. Remember and uphold tradition - The Hill, May 21, 2013
  11. From the Chairman: Why We Serve - Joint Force Quarterly no. 70. July 2013
  12. From the Chairman: Leadership in Historic Times - Joint Force Quarterly no. 71. Oct. 2013
  13. From the Chairman: Mount Up and Move Out - Joint Force Quarterly no. 72. Jan. 2014


  1. Dempsey Muses on Challenges as New Head of Joint Chiefs – Thom Shanker. New York Times. Oct 3, 2011.
  2. The New Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on "Getting to the Truth" – Karl Moore. Forbes Magazine. Oct 20, 2011.
  3. Gen. Martin Dempsey's Interview with Jeremy Paxman – Jeremy Paxman, BBC. Nov 28, 2011.
  4. Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey's Interview with Fareed Zakaria – Fareed Zakaria. CNN. Feb 19, 2012.
  5. Video: Gen. Martin Dempsey's Interview with Charlie Rose – Charlie Rose. Mar 16, 2012.
  6. Video: Gen. Martin Dempsey's Interview on Leadership - The Pentagon Channel. Oct. 2012.
  7. Video: Gen. Martin Dempsey at the National Press Club - National Press Club. Oct. 10, 2012.
  8. Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey talks to Dan Rather - Dan Rather Reports. Nov. 13, 2012.
  9. Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey talks to Ted Koppel - Rock Center with Brian Williams. NBC. Jan. 24, 2013.
  10. Transcript: Sec. Panetta & Gen. Dempsey’s Interview with Candy Crowley - State of the Union. CNN. Feb. 3, 2013.
  11. Transcript: Sec. Panetta & Gen. Dempsey’s Interview with Chuck Todd - Meet the Press. NBC. Feb. 3, 2013.
  12. Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey talks to Rachel Martin - Weekend Edition. NPR. Feb. 17, 2013.
  13. Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey talks to Candy Crowley - State of the Union. CNN. July 7, 2013.
  14. Transcript: Gen. Martin Dempsey talks to Martha Raddatz - This Week. ABC. Aug. 4, 2013.


  1. Gen. Dempsey Becomes the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Sep 30, 2011
  2. The Atlantic Council of the United States: Security and Partnership in an Age of Austerity – Dec 9, 2011.
  3. End of Mission Ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq – Dec 15, 2011.
  4. Duke University's Ambassador S. Davis Phillips Family International Lecture Series: A New Vision for the US Military – Jan 12, 2012.
  5. West Point Class of 2013 500th Night – Jan 21, 2012.
  6. Harvard University's John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum: Security Paradox – Apr 12, 2012.
  7. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace: A Conversation with General Martin Dempsey – May 1, 2012.
  8. Kansas State University's 161st Landon Lecture - Oct. 1, 2012


  1. ^
  2. ^ By law, 10 USC 152, Dempsey assumed office on October 1.
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ "Donegal Man Is Appointed Chief Of The American Army". Donegal Daily. March 26, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  8. ^ Baron, Kevin, "Gen. Martin Dempsey: The Quiet American", National Journal, February 11, 2012.
  9. ^ "Iron Soldiers: Mission complete" (PDF). 1st Armored Division Public Affairs. 1st Armored Division Public Affairs. Retrieved July 2004. 
  10. ^ "U.S. Senate: Legislation & Records Home > Nominations Confirmed (Non-Civilian)". Retrieved October 30, 2012. 
  11. ^ "General Officer Announcements". July 11, 2008. Retrieved March 23, 2014. 
  12. ^ Tice, Jim (December 8, 2008). "Dempsey takes command of TRADOC". Army Times. Retrieved December 9, 2008. 
  13. ^ Four-Star General Martin E. Dempsey to Visit Israel
  14. ^ US CJCS Gen. Martin Dempsey Visits Yad VaShem
  15. ^ Bacon, Lance (January 6, 2011). "TRADOC head is pick to become chief of staff". Army Times. Retrieved January 6, 2011. 
  16. ^ "General Officer Announcements". Department of Defense. Retrieved February 8, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Hearing Schedule". U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  18. ^ Brannen, Kate (March 15, 2011). "Sen. committee confirms Dempsey as Army chief". Army Times. Retrieved February 1, 2013. 
  19. ^ Senate Congressional Record for March 16, 2011
  20. ^ Starr, Barbara (May 26, 2011). "Obama to choose Army head as next Joint Chiefs chairman, officials say". CNN. Retrieved May 26, 2011. 
  21. ^ White House Press Secretary (June 26, 2013). "Statement by the President on Intention to Renominate General Marty Dempsey as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Admiral Sandy Winnefeld as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff". 
  22. ^ Official Biography of 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey[dead link]
  23. ^ "General Martin E. Dempsey Chairman". US DOD Joint Chiefs of Staff. April 2015. Retrieved July 30, 2015. 
  24. ^ Miles, Donna. "Dempsey Accepts USO Award on Behalf of Military Members". Armed Forces Press Service. Retrieved January 17, 2012. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
William Fallon
Commander of United States Central Command

Succeeded by
David Petraeus
Preceded by
William Wallace
Commanding General of the Army Training and Doctrine Command
Succeeded by
John Sterling
Preceded by
George Casey
Chief of Staff of the Army
Succeeded by
Raymond Odierno
Preceded by
Michael Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff