President Obama's highest ranking military officer gives exclusive interview

Friday 31 August 2012 23.15
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey

President Obama's highest ranking military adviser General Martin Dempsey, has thanked Ireland for allowing US soldiers to use Shannon Airport.

Last year the 60-year-old four-star General was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff - the highest ranking military officer in the US.

The General is in Dublin to attend an American football game between Notre Dame and the Naval College.

He said that Shannon Airport is a really important hub for American forces as they travel to war zones such as Afghanistan.

General Dempsey said soldiers really love coming through the airport.

He said he did not know whether critics saw the troops as an inconvenience or their dislike was some comment about the war, but he expressed gratitude to people who support the stopover.

In an RTÉ interview General Dempsey said there were no plans at the moment for US military intervention in Syria.

He said the US had learned lessons from their involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan and had adapted with different outcomes.

General Dempsey said they had learned the importance of protecting people and about the importance of bringing governance, as well as diplomatic and military strategy.

He said that the operation of the Guantanamo holding centre was a matter for American politicians, with the military providing the guard forces.

During his career, General Dempsey was deployed in Operation Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

General Dempsey has strong Irish connections.

All his grandparents were born in Ireland and he learned some Irish while on holidays as a youngster in Mayo.

He wrote his Master's thesis on Irish literature, and has a passion for Irish music.