Martin Dempsey

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Martin E. "Marty" Dempsey (born March 14, 1952) is a retired United States Army general and the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

History finds us, not the other way around. And since we can't know which of us history will find, we should each do all we can to prepare by living a life of character and consequence.
Loyalty is not an entitlement. It must be earned, both by leaders and by those who follow them. And even when loyalty has been earned, it must have limits.
There are certain moments in our lives that are clearly more important than others. They are defining moments, moments that shape us, moments that we rely upon to help us make the big decisions. We should recognize them, remember them, and embrace them for what they provide us.

QuotesEdit

  • Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties.
    • Praising the Israeli army's actions in the military engagement with Gaza in 2014, as quoted in The Jewish Chronicle, 26 December 2014, p.20.


  • Number 2: We are a paradigm of diversity, now I kind've touched on that already. I had my Israeli counterpart of all people, one day say to me, "hey, do you understand why you are who you are?". You mean me personally? "No, your country." I said, 'well I think so, but I'd love to hear it from your perspective.' And he said, "it's the dash". And I said, 'what are you talking about the dash?' And he said, "the dash, Irish-American; Jewish-American; Arab-American; Black.. African-American." And you know I thought about it, and I thanked him actually for the perspective because we are a diverse nation, and that's who we are. I mean, I don't know how many of you in the audience are actually native Americans; my guess is not many. Everybody else here is at some level, from some other part of the world. And we're very diverse, we embrace diversity, and we embrace it because: in my case I'll tell you when I had the Joint Chiefs around me; the Army; the Navy; the Air Force; the Marines; the Coast Guard. I would never have been able to have been an effective Chairmen if everyone had been of one view, or if everyone was of one culture. It just wouldn't have worked. We would have convinced ourselves that we had a single perfect answer, when in fact the world lend itself to single perfect answers. So look, I think in terms of assertions about America's role, we have to show the world what's possible when you embrace diverse thinking, diverse personalities, diverse groups, diverse ethnicities, diverse religions. And if we don't do it, there's very few that are going to be able to do it. So whether we accept that or not, as I said earlier, is really an individual and ultimately at some level a national choice. But my assertion is, if you're asking me our role one part of it is to continue to be that paradigm of diversity.
  • One of the things that fascinated me about the Chinese is whenever I would have a conversation with them about international standards or international rules of behavior, they would inevitably point out that those rules were made when they were absent from the world stage. They are no longer absent from the world stage, and so those rules need to be renegotiated with them.

No Time For Spectators: The Lessons That Mattered Most From West Point to the West Wing (2020)Edit

  • To Deanie, who's been there every step of the way.
    • Dedication
  • There are people in our lives who may know more about what's good for us than we do.
    • p. 15
  • Not all of us have a moral compass on our desks, but we need to have one in our hearts. Without it, we won't live a life in which character matters.
    • p. 71
  • In this era of ubiquitous information, complexity, and intense scrutiny, it is becoming routine to respond to reports of character flaws in business, athletics, and politics with an indifferent shrug and a "Yes, but..." It's becoming easier to rationalize a lack of character by emphasizing accomplishments, as though this were a binary choice. It's becoming commonplace that character flaws are greeted with skepticism. In this environment, character matters even more. Building teams requires bringing together individuals with the right credentials, commitment, and character. A lack of any one of these will eventually mean trouble. Our teams- both leaders and followers- will and should be judged not only by what they accomplish but also by how. Neither leading nor following will be effective if personal interactions and beliefs are considered mere differences in perception. Rather, both leading and following require conviction and character.
    • p. 71
  • I was a good student at West Point- probably not as good as I could have been or should have been, but I performed well enough there and in the eight years afterward, serving with two cavalry squadrons, that I was selected for graduate school and a teaching assignment back at West Point. I chose to pursue a master's degree in English literature at Duke University. Even in retrospect, I wouldn't suggest that at the time I was passionate about getting an advanced degree in English. I was passionate about going to graduate school in some discipline other than engineering, my undergraduate major, and I really wanted to go back to West Point to teach. The English department provided a path for me to accomplish those goals.
    • p. 73
  • Like most graduate students, I took my studies far more seriously than I had as an undergraduate. I sometimes think of my undergraduate studies as a survival reality show, but I wanted to do well in graduate school and felt I had the proper attitude and life experience to do so.
    • p. 74
  • Loyalty is not an entitlement. It must be earned, both by leaders and by those who follow them. And even when loyalty has been earned, it must have limits. (Who among us can forget being asked by our chiding parents, "If your friend told you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?" Every day we see misplaced loyalty contributing to problems such as bullying, hazing, sexual harassment, discrimination, and corruption. To be sure, it can be difficult to say no to someone in a position of power who is using loyalty as leverage, especially when that person makes it clear that they expect total and unconditional loyalty. But that's where loyalty must meet moral courage, if we are to act honorably and do what's right.
    • p. 92-93
  • There's no place as beautiful as West Point in the spring, summer and fall and no place as dismal as West Point in January and February. In fact, cadets commonly refer to this time of year at the Academy as "gloom period."
    • p. 129
  • On March 16, 1968, in the Vietnamese hamlet of My Lai, American soldiers massacred between four hundred and five hundred unarmed civilians, mostly women and children. When the incident was discovered in November 1969, it quickly and severely eroded support for U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Though twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, only one, Lieutenant William Calley Jr., was convicted. His trial took place between November 1970 and March 1971, and its details sparked widespread outrage. That summer, right after I had completed my plebe year and arrived home to stay for a month, I was called a "baby killer" for the first time. And not by some stranger. By a grammar-school classmate I had known most of my life. Not everyone in my hometown was so outspoken, but there was an unmistakable awkwardness in the many conversations I had with friends and relatives about the war that summer. The Vietnam War was a searing experience for those drafted to fight there, and it was polarizing at home. Lined up against opponents of the war were those who subscribed to the idea of "my country, right or wrong." Just as the "baby killer" moniker didn't sit well with me, neither did the idea that anything done in the name of the country must be right. It was a confusing time when peace signs and jingoistic slogans competed on bumper stickers across America.
    • p. 169-170
  • There was a certain comfort in returning to West Point after a month at home- not because I was back among those who universally supported the war, but quite tge opposite: I was back among those who believed the Vietnam War would soon be theirs to wage and wanted earnestly to understand it. I was back among classmates and instructors who encouraged me to challenge both the idea that the war was a lost cause and the notion that it should not be questioned simply because it was the policy of the U.S. government. I was back in an institution that provided and promoted a liberal education as essential in the preparation for becoming a military officer. I didn't know it at the time, but those days were just the beginning of a journey in learning how to listen, to learn, to question, to communicate, to apply knowledge and skills to real-world problems honestly and with an open mind. Later, long after I had graduated from West Point, I would make sure those around me knew that I would always welcome, even expect, a bit of sensible skepticism.
    • p. 170-171
  • Ranger School is the toughest training offered in the Army- not a place for the faint of heart and only recently open to women. Only a fraction of the soldiers who enter the nine-week course make it out successfully.
    • p. 212
  • There are a lot of memories in this book. I hope they are not too self-aggrandizing. I certainly don't mean them to be. Rather, I intend them to argue that life is a journey that must be felt to be meaningful, that it will always surprise us, and that it is an opportunity meant to be experienced by participation, not by observation. I intend them to show that history finds us, not the other way around. And since we can't know which of us history will find, we should each do all we can to prepare by living a life of character and consequence. I intend them to illustrate that we all- leaders and followers alike- have obligations to each other. Each chapter is a piece of a puzzle, no one piece more important than the other.
    • p. 213
  • There are certain moments in our lives that are clearly more important than others. They are defining moments, moments that shape us, moments that we rely upon to help us make the big decisions. We should recognize them, remember them, and embrace them for what they provide us. We should welcome moments of surprising clarity.
    • p. 214

External linksEdit

Wikipedia has an article about: