Like Mullen, Dempsey Will Be Shaped by Environment as Joint Chiefs Chairman

The transition from U.S. Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen to Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has triggered a wave of speculation about how the U.S. military is destined to evolve during the coming years.

Some have gone so far as to paint Mullen's departure as a turning point in American military history. In interviewing Mullen last week, for instance, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius found himself wondering "if we are entering a 'post-military' age when our top officers understand that the biggest problems can't be solved with military power."

While it's a big question, and worthy of debate, a simpler observation centers on the fact that while Mullen's time in the Joint Chiefs' top seat coincided with the height of two large and protracted force deployments, Dempsey arrives with the United States nearly out of Iraq and on its way out of Afghanistan.

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