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Entries in Martin Dempsey (6)

Thursday
Jan102013

US Ground Troops Could Help Secure Syrian Chemical Sites Only in Peaceful Situation, Says Defense Chief

Alessio Romenzi/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At his news conference Thursday, Defense Secretary Panetta said the concern now about Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile is what to do with them should the Assad regime fall.  Panetta said U.S. troops might play a role in securing the sites only if there’s a permissive environment in post-Assad Syria, but that they’re not an option in a “hostile atmosphere.”

Panetta said the current discussion is that if Assad falls, “How do we secure the CBW sites? What do we do to deal with that situation? And that is a discussion that we are having.”

Panetta explained the possibility of U.S. ground troops playing a role in securing sites this way: “You always have to keep the possibility that, if there is a peaceful transition and international organizations get involved, that they might ask for assistance in that situation.”  However, he said “in a hostile situation, we're not planning for that.”  Panetta explained further that a U.S. troop option to secure the sites depends a lot on “what happens in a transition. Is there a permissive atmosphere? Or is it a hostile atmosphere? And that'll tell you a lot.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Dempsey said the U.S. has done assessments of what might be needed for the scenarios Panetta mentioned.  “We're engaged in planning to develop options against alternative futures, you know, alternative future one, collaboration or cooperation, permissiveness, non-permissive, hostile, all of which would have different requirements.”  Dempsey acknowledged that training rebels was not one of those options.

Panetta said the “greater concern” about the Syrian stockpile is what steps the international community needs to do when Assad falls so “that there is a process and a procedure to ensure that we get our hands on securing those sites. That, I think, is the bigger challenge right now.”

His comments help explain why Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak was back at the Pentagon Wednesday night after a goodbye visit a month ago.  Panetta explained that the visit was part of the ongoing discussion with Syria’s neighbors about how to deal with Syria’s chemical weapons if Assad falls.  The talks include “what steps need to be taken in order to make sure that these sites are secured and that they don't wind up in the wrong hands.”

As part of those regional discussions Dempsey said he’d spoken with his Turkish, Israeli, Lebanese and Jordanian counterparts. The U.S. military has a small military planning team in Jordan. “Messaging, such as our president did, that -- that the use of chemical weapons would -- those that would be responsible would be held accountable," he said, adding, “I think that Syria must understand by now that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable. And to that extent, it provides a deterrent value. But preventing it, if they decide to use it, I think we would be reacting.”

Interestingly Dempsey acknowledged that scientists have told U.S. officials that the Sarin the Syrians mixed in early December can only remain viable for 60 days. “That's what -- what the scientists tell us...I'd still be reluctant to handle it myself,” said Dempsey.

Dempsey said preventing the Syrians from using their chemical weapons is “almost unachievable” because U.S. intelligence would require constant surveillance “to actually see it before it happened, and that's -- that's unlikely, to be sure.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Sep272012

NATO Troops Resume Partnered Operations in Afghanistan

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said Thursday that most NATO forces in Afghanistan are once again partnering with Afghan security forces.  Last week NATO commanders in Afghanistan significantly scaled back partnered missions between NATO and Afghan troops as a precautionary measure in the wake of insider attacks and the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

At a Pentagon news conference Panetta said, "I can now report to you that most ISAF units have returned to their normal partnered operations at all levels.”

Last week, NATO commanders issued a new directive ordering that most partnered operations had to be approved by the one- and two-star generals in charge of regional commands in Afghanistan.

NATO commanders in Afghanistan stressed the scale-back was a temporary move, even though it was seen as a major setback for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Just back from a trip to Afghanistan, Dempsey said he did not have the precise percentage, but said partnering was at the levels previous to the change.

“The leaders I had spoken to had resumed operations as they had been previously organized,” said Dempsey.  “And so it was my assessment coming back that the command had kind of restored to its previous norm. But it’s changing all the time.”

Dempsey could not say precisely whether partnered operations were back to 90 percent of all operations in Afghanistan, but said, "Yeah, as far as I know sitting here in Washington, 8,000 miles away.”

A Defense official said Thursday that even though most NATO forces have resumed partnering with their Afghan counterparts, the directive remains in place.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Afghan Militants Hit Gen. Martin Dempsey's Plane

JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- The plane of the U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, was damaged late Monday night after Taliban militants fired rockets at Bagram Air Field.

A military official told ABC News the attack occurred just after midnight local time at Bagram Air Field outside Kabul when Dempsey's C-17 plane was hit by fragments of indirect fire from two rockets.  

Dempsey was safely back in his room when the attack occurred and was not hurt in the blast.  Two maintenance people working nearby sustained minor injuries.

Due to the exterior damage of the aircraft, Dempsey and his team left Bagram Tuesday morning on a different C-17 plane.  The attack also caused slight damage to an Apache helicopter that was parked nearby.

Dempsey was in Afghanistan to meet with top U.S. and Afghan officials in Kabul in an attempt to stop the increasing number of attacks on U.S. forces by Afghan soldiers and police.  These so-called “green on blue” or “insider” attacks have killed 10 American soldiers in the last two weeks.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug202012

Joint Chiefs Chairman in Afghanistan to Discuss 'Insider' Attacks

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, landed in Afghanistan Monday, where he will meet with senior officials to discuss the wave of so-called "insider" or "green on blue" attacks that have left at least 10 U.S. soldiers dead over the last two weeks.

The most recent incident came on Sunday, when an Afghan policeman on patrol with American troops turned his weapon on them, killing one U.S. service member.

So far this year, there have been 32 "green on blue" attacks resulting in 40 deaths -- far more than 2011’s 21 total attacks.

As a result, the U.S. military has changed its policy on arming its service members, ordering that troops now be armed at all times, inside and outside their bases.

The Obama administration has also urged Afghan President Hamid Karzai to order his military and police to conduct better background checks of enlistees.  Defense Secretary Leon Panetta spoke directly with Karzai over the weekend about his matter, asking the Afghan leader to coordinate a new system of vetting with Gen. John Allen, commander of all NATO troops in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Apr202012

US Won't Deploy Troops to Syria, Top General Tells Congress

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. will not deploy troops to Syria in an attempt to end the government crackdown on political dissidents, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told a House Armed Services hearing on Thursday.

There has been little evidence that a recent ceasefire pact agreed to by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has slowed down the violence that one human rights group said had caused more than 11,000 fatalities over the past 13 months.

Despite this, Gen. Martin Dempsey made it abundantly clear to lawmakers that the administration will neither send troops as a peacekeeping force to Syria nor act unilaterally to assist anti-government forces.

Dempsey seemed to be following the lead of NATO Secretary-General Anders-Fogh Rasmussen, who said earlier in the week that the military coalition would not step into the maelstrom despite the pleas of rebels looking to overthrow al-Assad.

Furthermore, there appears to be little chance of Syria becoming a stabilizing force in the region for another 10 to 15 years, according to Dempsey.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Feb292012

Joint Chiefs Chairman Says US Not Advising Israel on Iran

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- With reports Tuesday that Israel won't notify the U.S. ahead of time if it decides to knock out Iran's nuclear program, Capitol Hill lawmakers want to know what kind of advice the Pentagon has been giving its Israeli allies about the matter.

According to the Israeli officials, the U.S. would be kept in the dark about any preemptive strike so that Iran has less of a reason to retaliate against American interests.

As for what the U.S. told Israel related to a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said he did not advise against a military strike when meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials last month.

All Dempsey would tell the Senate panel was, "We’ve had a conversation with them about time, the issue of time."

The general previously said in an interview that any Israeli action against Iran would be "destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives."

When Dempsey was asked by lawmakers Tuesday if the U.S. was backing off the possibility of having to attack Iran itself, he replied, "Absolutely not."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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