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As the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey spends a majority of his time discussing the tactical issues of the military.

But Feb. 6 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the highest-ranking military officer in the U.S. military was more interested in a creating a conversation to “take stock in America.”

“I come to venues like this as much to learn as to contribute to your learning, “ Dempsey said. “That is why I really want this to be a conversation.”

The Triangle Institute for Security studies and UNC-Chapel Hill’s curriculum in peace, war, and defense sponsored the forum, which was held at the Genome Sciences Building. Nearly 400 people, including Chancellor Carol L. Folt, attended the hour-long question-and-answer lecture.

“This event is very much in keeping with UNC-Chapel Hill’s very long history of respect, of admiration and of support for American soldiers,” Folt said.

Dempsey, a graduate of U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Duke University, is the senior military advisor to the president, secretary of defense and the National Security Council. During his 40-year Army career, Dempsey has held various positions including acting commander of U.S. Central Command and 37th chief of staff of the Army.

“We are very pleased to welcome General Martin Dempsey here,” said Wayne Lee, chair of the curriculum in peace, war and defense.

While spending a majority of the hour answering questions on topics ranging from the troop drawdown and budget constraints to current military strategy and women in the military, Dempsey discussed the need to examine our own society in order to answer questions of war and peace.

“There are plenty of tactical questions that generally are debated and debated and debated,” Dempsey said. “But what I hope what we’re interested in is ‘Who are we as a nation?’ ”

By Brandon Bieltz, Office of Communications and Public Affairs

Published February 9, 2015