By John T. Bennett - 10/12/11 06:02 PM EDT
Newly installed Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey predicted Wednesday that U.S. forces will still be fighting and keeping the peace in Afghanistan and Iraq when his tenure expires.
Dempsey began a two-year term as the military's top officer earlier this month, meaning his first of two possible terms will run out in October 2013. If he serves four years as chairman, he could remain in the post until late 2015.
Directly addressing that goal, Dempsey said, "That won't happen during my tenure."
The Obama administration's plan is for U.S. forces to hand over all security missions to indigenous forces in 2014. The White House also is working with Baghdad on a revised security pact that would keep American forces there beyond the current Dec. 31 deadline for them to leave.
Public opinion polls show the American populace is growing tired of war after a decade of fighting in the Middle East. That war fatigue has spread to Capitol Hill, where even some typically hawkish Republicans are calling for an end to the wars.
Several Republican presidential candidates have called for U.S. forces to be brought home after a decade of rapid and repeated deployments.