Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Addresses War College Class

Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Addresses War College Class
November 29th, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Addresses War College Class

Chairman Of Joint Chiefs Addresses War College Class
Carlisle (PA) Sentinel
November 29, 2007 By Joseph Cress, Sentinel Reporter
Strategic leaders of tomorrow need to reach out and support the ordinary soldier and his family as pressure mounts on a smaller U.S. military to counter the growing pace of global change.
That was the message Wednesday from Adm. Mike Mullen speaking to the Army War College Class of 2008 as the newly appointed chairman of the joint chiefs of staff -- the principal military advisor to the President and top government officials.
The Los Angeles native offered up comment on topics ranging from the war in Iraq to the upcoming change in administration to the challenge of retaining veteran servicemen.
“You have my gratitude serving your country at this time,” Mullen told the students. “The mission is getting more complex and every service is being pressed to do more and not less.”
Since taking charge Oct. 1, Mullen has toured the country gathering input on the concerns of enlisted personnel and young officers. He said it is part of his leadership style to go out and talk directly to people rather than draw conclusions from written reports.
“They are proud of serving and feel they are making a difference, but they are feeling pressed,” Mullen said. “They are just looking for more head room and trying to get some balance in their lives. They want to know someone above is hearing them.”
As junior officers consider future career options, many wonder whether the cycle of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan is going to come to an end soon, Mullen said. He added it is important for the armed forces to try and retain this generation of combat tested expertise.
Mullen urged senior leaders to be sensitive to the trend and willing to share in the responsibility of addressing issues associated with frequent deployments. “We are trying to relieve this as rapidly as we can.”
The issue extends beyond the soldier, Mullen said. Often, the decision to leave the service is a family decision so support outreach and incentives should include the spouse and children.
As for recruitment, the military is trying to compete in a labor market where the tendency for young people to enlist is down due to an unpopular war, Mullen said. “It is a very tough environment.”
He applauded the efforts of recruiters who met enlistment goals for 2007 and legislation passed years ago which beefed up military pay and benefits.
Given the sacrifice and dramatic changes that come with military life, the least the country can do is to take care of the veterans and their families for the rest of their lives, Mullen said.
The admiral believes the wounded are getting high quality care from such facilities as Walter Reed Army Hospital.
Beyond the soldier, Mullen worries about the need for the military to reconnect with the American people who, in many cases, only see the service branches through the view of the Internet and the media.
With force levels down 30 to 40 percent from early 1990s levels, the military is not as visible a presence in American society, Mullen said. “We should work hard to find out what is on their minds. It is very important to stay in touch with them.”
Because his appointment is for two years, Mullen will be chairman when the new president and administration takes office in January 2009.
Mullen told reporters his focus is on preparing the military for the transition while trying to keep it politically neutral by concentrating on the mission. He added the future direction of the military depends on the orders and guidance of the new administration.
While the military has made strides to improve education programs on foreign languages and cultures, more needs to be done to reorganize other agencies and departments within government to better support the military and global policy, Mullen said.
The admiral said it would be a mistake for the U.S. government to further constrict the size of the military should issues be resolved in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are plans to build up the ground forces.
Mullen called this period of history an exciting but potentially dangerous time. The U.S. needs to be persistent in its foreign policy to prevent extremists from obtaining weapons of mass destruction.
When asked about Iraq, the admiral said the security and economic situation is improving and efforts are working to reconcile the various factions. There is no set time frame for a troop pull-out and it is not known how long and, in what form, U.S. forces will remain in Iraq, Mullen said.
The admiral said a Middle East strategy should not just apply to Iraq and Afghanistan but the entire region. Mullen called Iran a “center of instability” and urged U.S. leaders to continue to apply diplomatic and financial pressure on a Teheran government believed to be supporting insurgents in Iraq and whose leader has pledged to end Israel.
“The strategic landscape we live in is challenging,” Mullen said. The U.S. also needs to pay attention to conditions in Africa where rich resources, unstable governments, disease and famine make it fertile breeding ground for terrorism.
He added while the U.S. is hopeful for a peaceful rise of China as an economic power, there is concern about the significant amount of money the Communist country is investing in military technology which included the recent test of anti-satellite technology.
A 1968 Naval Academy graduate, Mullen once served as chief of naval operations and as commander of NATO Joint Force Command Naples.

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