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Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday said he is recommending Gen. Martin E. Dempsey to be the next Army chief of staff.

Dempsey, currently commanding the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Va., would succeed Gen. George Casey, who is expected to retire this spring. Previously, Dempsey served as acting commander of the U.S. Central Command and its deputy commander. Before that, Dempsey was the commander of the 1st Armored Division in Iraq and then led the effort to build and train Iraqi security forces rising to commander of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq until 2007.

Dempsey also has previous Pentagon experience, having served as a special assistant to then-Chairman Gen. Hugh Shelton.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen praised Dempsey as a model soldier.

“I don’t think there’s anyone more qualified, more in step with the challenges facing our Army and our military,” Mullen said.

Casey has been chief of staff since April 2007. Prior to that, he led the Iraq War for more than two years as commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq during a period when violence reached peaked levels and public support for the war plummeted. He was replaced in that post by Gen. David Petraeus.

“General Casey is scheduled to finish his tour later this spring, and we obviously will have more to say at that point about his nearly four decades of dedicated service to the Army and to the country,” Gates said.

— Stars and Stripes

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