WASHINGTON -- Frank Sinatra may have been called the Chairman of the Board but the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is no slouch himself when it comes to carrying a tune.

Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the nation's highest-ranking military officer, sang "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" at the end of a question-and-answer session at the National Press Club.

The short ditty came at the request of club president Theresa Werner and at the end of a lunch in which President Obama's top Pentagon adviser tamped down expectations for a military intervention to stop the bloody fighting in Syria.

A self-described “Sinatra Irish Pub kinda guy,” Dempsey grew up in Bayonne, N.J., just next door to the crooner's hometown of Hoboken. Even before he became chairman a year ago, he had gained a reputation for straight talk and melodious tones.

Among his greatest hits on Youtube: "Christmas in Killarney," "New York, New York," and a version of "My Kind of Town" rewritten to pay tribute to the Coast Guard instead of Chicago.

This isn't the first time Dempsey has crooned a tune at Washington's press club.

In April, he sang the "Sesame Street" theme song at a panel on how the public broadcasting show could help military families.

That was before Big Bird became a lightning rod in the 2012 election. Asked Wednesday whether campaign rhetoric hurts U.S. relations with other countries, he cracked "What harsh rhetoric?"

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  • Start of War: Oct. 7, 2001

    <em>American soldiers hide behind a barricade during an explosion, prior to fighting with Taliban forces November 26, 2001 at the fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)</em>

  • Number of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan: 88,000

    <em>US Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the USS Bataan's Amphibious Ready Group arrive December 14, 2001 at an undisclosed location with field gear and weapons. (Photo by Johnny Bivera/Getty Images)</em>

  • Number of Troops at War's Peak

    <em>U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield 13 December, 2001. (DAVE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the war's peak: About 101,000 in 2010. Allies provided about 40,000.

  • Withdrawal Plans

    <em>U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House on June 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Withdrawal plans: 23,000 U.S. troops expected to come home by the end of the summer, leaving about 68,000 in Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, though the U.S. is expected to maintain a sizeable force of military trainers and a civilian diplomatic corps.

  • Number of U.S. Casualties

    <em>American flags, each one representing the 4,454 American soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, move in the breeze at The Christ Congregational United Church March 17, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. casualties: At least 1,828 members of the U.S. military killed as of Tuesday, according to an Associated Press count. According to the Defense Department, 15,786 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action.

  • Afghan Civilian Casualties

    <em>Asan Bibi, 9, sits on a bench as burn cream is applied to her at Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. She, her sister and mother were badly burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Afghan civilian casualties: According to the United Nations, 11,864 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began reporting statistics, and the end of 2011.

  • Cost of the War

    <em>An Iraqi man counts money behind a pile of American dollars in his currency exchange bureau in Baghdad on April 11, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Cost of the war: $443 billion from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.

  • Number of Times Obama Has Visited Afghanistan

    <em>US President Barack Obama speaks to troops during a visit to Bagram Air Field on May 1, 2012 in Afghanistan. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) </em><br><br> Number of times Obama has visited Afghanistan: 3 as president, including Tuesday, and 1 as a presidential candidate.