Dempsey Wraps up Multi-country Trip
By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service
RAMSTEIN, Germany, Dec. 19, 2011 On the final stop of his multi-country USO holiday tour, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited wounded warriors and held a town hall meeting with more than 400 service members here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visits with the wives of local military leaders at the USO facility on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Dec. 19, 2011. DOD photo by D. Myles Cullen
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey has visited troops, U.S. combatant commanders and military leaders in Kuwait, Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and now Germany on his first major trip as chairman.
“These trips are about developing a feel for what we can do,” Dempsey told reporters who are traveling with him. “I think it’s only in combining an effort to understand a challenge and then getting out and touching it that we can possibly find our way forward.”
In Kuwait the chairman thanked military leaders and government officials for help in moving U.S. soldiers in and out of Iraq during more than eight years of fighting.
In Iraq, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Dempsey, and other leaders spoke at the end-of-mission ceremony for U.S. Forces Iraq in Baghdad. In Afghanistan, Dempsey met with Marine Corps Gen. John R. Allen, commander of International Security Assistance Force–Afghanistan, and spoke with troops at bases in Kabul, Bagram and Jalalabad.
In Saudi Arabia he met with officials from the Saudi Ministry of Defense and the Saudi Arabia National Guard.
“I was really heartened by our relationship with Saudi Arabia and the growth of [foreign military sales] programs there that are helping them build capability,” the chairman said.
“There’s a clear commitment on the part of the Saudis to maintain the relationship with us,” he added, “and I think that’s encouraging as well, given some of the other challenges that are emerging in the region.”
Here in Germany, Dempsey visited the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center and met with wounded warriors and hospital staff. It is the largest military hospital outside the continental United States and the closest treatment center for wounded soldiers transited from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Dempsey also visited a USO wounded warrior center here and briefed the leadership of Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. Air Force base, headquarters for U.S. Air Forces in Europe, and a NATO installation.
In a televised town hall meeting with more than 400 troops, the chairman, his wife Deanie, and Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, the chairman’s senior enlisted advisor, offered holiday greetings and appreciation for the audience members’ military service.
During the town hall, Dempsey fielded questions on topics that ranged from how to deal with expensive and behind-schedule weapon systems and how retirement benefits will fare in a reduced defense budget, to how to help veterans make the best use of education benefits, whether the Air Force should become the Air and Space Force, and whether the sub-unified Cyber Command should become a standing combatant command.
“We very much appreciate what you do here,” the chairman said, “not only for us -- that is to say, the armed forces of the United States -- but also what you do for our NATO allies, for building partnerships [and] for being diplomats in a foreign nation.”
Dempsey said he could not be more proud to serve with those in the audience.
“If you’ve ever in your life wanted to serve at a time when you were needed, congratulations -- you’re there,” he said.
“We need you. We need your best effort, we need your best thinking, we need your leadership, we need you to mentor your subordinates,” the chairman added. “And no matter how junior you are, you probably have someone looking up to you or at least next to you for support.”