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Mullen retires from U.S. military


10:21, October 01, 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama (4th L, front) shakes hands with outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen (1st R, front) as Vice President Joe Biden (3rd L, front), Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (2nd L, front), and Army General Martin Dempsey (1st L, front) look on during the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff Change of Responsibility Ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington, the United States, Sept. 30, 2011. Army General Martin Dempsey succeeded Mike Mullen to become the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff on Friday. (Xinhua/Zhang Jun)

WASHINGTON, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen on Friday formally retired from the military, passing on the post to Army Gen. Martin Dempsey.

At a ceremony at Virginia's Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall just outside Washington D.C., Mullen said the U.S. military forces have fought for a decade in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now face "looming threats" posed by Iran and others, as well as challenges in cyberspace.

"We have become the best counterinsurgency force in the world, but we have done so at the expense of critical conventional capabilities we necessarily let lapse," Mullen said. "We have become the most expeditionary force in our history, but in the process sacrificed some of the basics of garrison leadership and continuity that preserve the health of our all-volunteer force."

He also said difficult budget decisions are ahead, but warned the risk of burning "the very blanket of protection we have been charged to provide our fellow citizens" if cuts are too deep.

President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were present at the ceremony.

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