Gen. Dempsey: 'It took us about a decade … to realize we were at war'

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Compiled by Bill Gertz,

The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last week that the United States is engaged in a war of ideas in battling Islamist extremists, setting a new tone for dealing with the terror war.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the new chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff, at Baghdad's Camp Victory on April 20. Reuters/Mohammed Ameen

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said in a speech Oct. 13 that at the time the USS Cole was attacked in Yemen harbor by Al Qaida 10 years ago it was believed to have been a “one-off attack.”

“However, in retrospect a series of attacks, including on the World Trade Center in 1993, a military barracks at Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia, a strike on the embassy compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, the USS Cole, and then September 11, the reality was different.”

“It took us about a decade — about a decade to realize we were at war,” Dempsey said. “And we are very aware of that fact right now. But make no mistake about it. It will take us about: this is a generational issue.”

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