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Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen Martin E. Dempsey conducts a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jul 22, 2013.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen Martin E. Dempsey conducts a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Jul 22, 2013. (D. Myles Cullen/Department of Defense)

WASHINGTON — Gen. Martin Dempsey is heading into another two-year term as the nation’s top military officer as the Senate approved his nomination as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff late Thursday.

Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld was also approved by the Senate as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Both were approved on voice votes in the waning hours before a Senate recess began.

By unanimous consent, the Senate also approved the nomination of Lt. Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti as commander of U.S. and combined United Nations forces in Korea, as well as awarding him his fourth star. Gen. James Thurman will step down from the role when Scaparotti assumes command.

The Senate also confirmed Adm. Cecil Haney as the next commander of U.S. Strategic Command, where he will replace Gen. C. Robert Kehler.

In a written statement, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel praised Dempsey and Winnefeld, who have been advising him in the months since he took office on both security threats from abroad and wrenching budget challenges caused by political dissension at home.

“Both of these proven leaders are tireless advocates for our men and women in uniform and innovative thinkers who are helping to shape the military of the future,” he said. “I strongly value their counsel, as does President [Barack] Obama. Their continued service and wise advice will be essential as we continue to draw down from the war in Afghanistan and confront other national security challenges.”

During the confirmation process, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain had threatened to block a confirmation vote, saying he was unsatisfied with Dempsey’s answers to questions about Pentagon planning for intervention in the Syrian civil war.

But after Dempsey sent a letter detailing various options — from training to putting thousands of boots on the ground to seek chemical weapons — McCain said he would allow the nomination to move forward.

carroll.chris@stripes.com Twitter: @ChrisCarroll_


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