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Dempsey Says He Retains Confidence in Allen's Ability to Command

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The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said he retains “absolute confidence” in Marine Gen. John Allen’s ability to command NATO’s international Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey called Allen a man of integrity during an interview aboard an Air Force C-40 taking him from Guam to Hawaii. Dempsey spoke to Allen following Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta’s decision to refer an investigation about Allen to the DOD Inspector General.

“I asked him if he thought in the context of this additional stress in his life if he would be affected by it and he assured me that he was ready, willing and able to continue in command, and I absolutely have confidence in his ability to do that,” Dempsey said.

Dempsey agreed with Panetta’s decision to refer the matter to the IG, and he also agreed with the secretary saying that people were “jumping to conclusions” in the matter. “When there’s a question, we’re obligated to allow the DOD Inspector General to examine it and render their advice to the secretary,” he said.

“We have John Allen scheduled to become the (European Command) commander, and I wouldn’t want him to miss that opportunity unless there is reason for that to happen,” the chairman said. “I don’t see that at this point, but I see this investigation and how long it could take affecting that.”

There have been a number of incidents involving senior general and flag officers, and Dempsey said there is a tendency for the public to jumble them all together.

“We’ve got to keep all these issues separate. They are really different,” the chairman said. “Whether it’s a one-star at Fort Bragg or a four-star at the Pentagon, we owe those individuals the opportunity to have these investigations dealt with individually and not collapse them together.”

In one of his first acts upon becoming chairman, Dempsey made the study of the profession of arms one of his four focus areas. In the 14 months he has been in office, he examined what 20 years of operations and deployments from Bosnia to Afghanistan has meant to the services.

Dempsey said the issue is not limited to just general and flag officers, and he will need the input from non-commissioned, warrant and commissioned officers. “I’m not reacting to something, I’ve been interested in this from the start,” he said.

The chairman said he did see some disturbing indicators in the spring and tasked the Joint Staff’s Staff Judge Advocate, the director of joint force development and others to look across the community at how to perform ethics-related training. That work is ending and the chairman expects a report within the next two months.

“In response to these issues I have communicated through a memorandum to every four-star in every service – including the Coast Guard,” he said. “I expressed my concern and encouraged their interest and their active involvement in helping us to understand what really is going on and what’s not.”

Finally, the chairman is examining setting up a panel on professional ethics for an outside the department look at the situation. Dempsey is still scoping what he would ask such a panel to examine. It could include retired general and flag officers, retired chaplains, academics who study the military and senior NCOs.

Article by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service