U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta congratulated Gen. Martin Dempsey, who will succeed Adm. Michael Mullen, and Adm. James Winnefeld, who will be Dempsey's vice chairman, the Pentagon said in a release Wednesday.
"I am thrilled these two great Americans will soon join me in leading the finest military in the world," Panetta said in a statement. "They bring with them immense intellect, proven leadership and far reaching strategic vision."
Panetta said he expected he and President Obama would "greatly benefit" from Dempsey's and Winnefeld's counsel "as we confront the many security challenges facing our country."
Panetta called Mullen and outgoing vice chairman, Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, "two of the military's finest leaders."
Also on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Gen. Raymond T. Odierno as Army chief of staff, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert as chief of naval operations, Air Force Gen. William M. Fraser III as commander of U.S. Transportation Command, and Army Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., who will receive his fourth star and serve as commander of U.S. Northern Command.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]