Army chief expected to win Joint Chiefs post

By ROBERT BURNS | July 26, 2011 | 3:15 AM EDT

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, left, shakes the hand of Sgt. 1st Class Casey Roberts, with Lt. Thomas Harper at center, before Roberts, Harper, and four other members of the U.S. Special Forces were presented with the French "Croix de la Valeur militaire" for distinguished service fighting in Afghanistan alongside the French Taskforce La Fayette, during a ceremony at the Residence of France in Washington on Monday, July 25, 2011. The reshuffling of key members of President Barack Obama's national security team is nearly finished, with Dempsey facing his Senate confirmation as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing Navy Adm. Mike Mullen. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Army Gen. Martin Dempsey is facing his Senate confirmation hearing as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, replacing Navy Adm. Mike Mullen.

If, as expected, Dempsey wins full Senate approval after testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, he will take over Oct. 1.

That would nearly complete a series of changes at the top level of President Barack Obama's national security team, including new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

Dempsey has taken an unusually twisted path to the top military post. He had been sworn in as Army chief on April 11; barely a month later he found himself chosen for the Joint Chiefs job. As a result, he's destined to go down in history as one of the shortest-serving Army chiefs.