SASC To Grill Top Officers In Double Job Interview. There Will Be Live Tweeting.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey (right) greets Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., before a June 4 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing. He's back Thursday morning for his re-confirmation hearing. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

America’s top military officers, Gen. Martin Dempsey and Adm. James “Sandy” Winnefeld, are set to appear Thursday morning on the Hill. They’ll be seeking the Senate Armed Services Committee approval for second terms as the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, respectively.

The hearing is expected to be focused on global conflicts. In several interviews this week with SASC members, the first issues senators mentioned when asked just what they intended to ask the duo about were “Syria” or “Afghanistan” or “Egypt.” As a service for you, dear reader, your correspondent will be live tweeting the action here.

However, one senator known for making confirmation hearings feisty, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., on Tuesday told your correspondent he has big questions about Dempsey’s judgement — and about the quality of advice he has been giving President Obama for the last two years.

“There are a number of things he has said and done which are very questionable,” McCain said during a brief interview.


There are no signs that either four-star officer’s nomination is in doubt. All indications are both will quickly — quickly for this Senate, at least — be confirmed by the full upper chamber.

But several SASC Republicans could give Dempsey some pointed questions, led by McCain, mostly to take shots some political shots at Obama.

Other candidates to ignite some fireworks: Ranking Member James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., who is leading an effort in the Senate to restrict officers’ ability to get involved in sexual assault cases that involve personnel under their command. And tea party Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas — who garnered his first major national headlines by roughing up Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel during his Jan. 31 confirmation hearing — always is a wildcard.

Here’s a tip for those craving political sparks who will be watching the session live: Plan your morning bathroom break for the question-and-answer time between Inhofe and McCain. Panel Vice Chairman Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island is a loyal Democrat, so he’s not likely to anger the White House by going after Dempsey, of whom Obama is said to think highly.

For those who can’t watch live, check for updates, as news happens. And, as mentioned, your correspondent will be live-tweeting the action. You’re welcome.

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett