Report: Obama to pick Army general as next Joint Chiefs chairman

President Obama soon will announce his intention to tap Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

White House officials have been considering a handful of top generals and admirals to replace Adm. Michael Mullen, whose term as chairman ends in a few months. 

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If Dempsey is confirmed by the Senate, he would be the first Army general in nearly a decade to hold the chairman’s post. 

The Hill reported last Friday that Dempsey had emerged as the Obama administration's favored candidate after speculation surfaced on a Defense sector website.

Army Gen. Hugh Shelton was the ground service's last Joint Chiefs chairman. He held that post from October 1997 through September 2001.

Senior Army officials and ground service proponents have long wanted to take back the coveted post, defense sources have said for years. Since the position was created in 1942, eight of the 17 chairmen have been Army generals.

White House officials have chilled on former top candidates, including current Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. James Cartwright.

Journalist and author Bob Woodward dubbed Cartwright Obama’s favorite general in his book Obama’s Wars.

But the White House ruled Cartwright out because of an incident involving a female aide. The Marine Corps general was cleared by the Pentagon IG after a probe of that situation, but the DOD inspectors did question how he handled the matter. 

Also in Cartwright's way were other "personal" issues, sources said last week.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz is considered the leading candidate to replace Cartwright as vice chairman, defense sources say — but they agree the new chairman will get a say in who get the No. 2 uniformed slot.