Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave this speech at Ft. Leavenworth on Thursday, March 4, 2010.
ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN: Good morning, please stay standing. (Laughter.) Actually, if you’d continue to clap, that would be – (laughter).
Good morning and it’s actually great to be back. I was here a couple years ago – and I’ll talk a little bit about that – actually not too long after I’d taken over as chairman. And I thought this was one of the most important places to come in, and it still is, from the standpoint of an opportunity to engage with you.
And you represent a tremendous diversity of who we are as a military, who we are as a government and quite frankly, who we are globally. I think there are some 60-plus countries represented here this morning.
And at my level, and I felt this way for a long time, not just since I’ve been chairman, relationships that get built by international partners here at these schools, at these education institutions throughout our military, are lifelong relationships and that have huge impacts down the road. As you become more senior and some of you will, as you grow to a position of leadership in our military and your classmates do as well, I can’t say enough about the importance of that.
I was struck – obviously, you know, we’ve been supporting the efforts in Haiti since that tragedy occurred on the 12th of January and Gen. Ken Keen, who is our three-star, who happened to be on the ground there visiting the day of the earthquake, turns out he is a classmate of and a friend of the Brazilian general who’s in charge of security there. And so when we had to work together, it was really that relationship that was vital to provide the foundation upon which to build because there was immediate trust between the two. And trust is a treasured coin of the realm, and it doesn’t always exist. So you represent, also, our civilian agencies and indeed, a vast majority of you represent our military and certainly our Army.
So I’ve got a couple thoughts and then I’d really like to open it up to questions. I learn a great deal about what’s going on through your questions. You are, generally speaking, well-rested, you’re in better shape than when you showed up, although I understand that some of you just got here, you have an opportunity to engage, to think and also to hear your peers, and I’d be interested in what’s on your mind.
I actually do this because I am in a leadership position and in this position, I’m able to do some things, make some decisions and hopefully, make some changes to the betterment of us as an institution in these extraordinarily challenging times. And I use those words all the time. It is an unbelievable challenging time. I’ve been doing this since – (pause) – I guess it doesn’t matter – (laughter) – a long time. Vietnam was when I came in. And we have changed and we will continue to change.
And because of that, I can’t say enough about what a great military we have, what great family support we have, and we are here just in time, quite frankly, to meet the challenges that we have and so many of you have met, sacrificed, lost buddies that you cared a great deal about and that represents who we are and it also represents, I think, a great deal of what is ahead of us.
So first of all, I’d just like to say thanks. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your service and that you raise your hand at this particular point in time in our history to serve. Certainly, in America but also in countries throughout the world because it is an extraordinary time. None of us can do it alone anymore.
We can’t do it as a single service. We can’t do it as just a military. We can’t do it just as a government. We can’t do it just as a nation. It is a global challenge that we face routinely and I am – and will be – eternally grateful for your service and for the difference that you’re making.
Secondly, we don’t do it alone. We do it because we’ve got extraordinary family support and we’ve always had – families have always been critical to us as a military, but never as much as since 9/11. And if you go back to the year 2000 and you try to project ahead and say, this is what I’m going to do for the next 10-years-plus.
I’m going to deploy upwards of five, six, seven, eight times and more, I’m going to spend half of that time at home from a force that was not a deploying force at the time, really. The glue that has held all of that together, quite frankly, has been family support. And our families have taken mind and center stage in a way that we don’t quite understand yet.
They are integral to our success and we would not be in a position that we are right now in terms of where we are in Iraq and with our ability to plan and execute successfully in Afghanistan, which is in our future, without our extraordinary family support. So I ask you to go home tonight and actually tell that to your families.
Usually, that’s a flawed request. Historically, when I’ve asked troops to go home and talk with their families, usually they forget or they choose not to, whatever it is. But I really would like you to do that. My wife is here with me and she’s meeting with a number of spouses this morning and that, the integral unit, the requirement to not just recognize what our families have done, but make sure we get it right for them in the future is a big part of our lives. So thanks for the difference that you and your families are making.
Secondly, I’d just like to talk about – I’d like to talk about change in a couple of areas. When I was here in late 2007, obviously, working right into the heart of the surge and all the change that was going on there, when we realized that in fact, it was really this institution that had an awful lot to do with it.
And while Gen. Petraeus and Maddox are the sort of the signatures on that change, there are – there were plenty of people and they would be the first to say they helped them, that it was – and it started here. And that says a lot. And it took us a while to figure all that out and get it right about what we should be doing and how we should be fighting and what a counterinsurgency was and how we should execute it.
And that was an extraordinary change, but it was an extraordinary time as well. I had come from Fort Sill and Fort Riley, where I had met maybe even some of you who, majors now, but captains who were trying to figure out – they were meeting themselves coming and going. They were trying to figure out what to do with their families or actually, how to meet somebody to even create a possibility of having a family.
They had typically – these were 2002 graduates – so maybe a little junior to most of you here, they got commission, they trained and they went to war and they’ve been to war ever since. And they looked to the future, a few short of battalion command and they say is this it? Is this what we’re going to do? And they’ve done it unbelievably well.
And we have tried to – this was also at a time – I’d just gotten back, I was at Riley, where we were standing up, the WTU’s trying to deal with a very large number of wounded that we hadn’t anticipated – a significantly different kind of wound – both those that were seen and unseen. So it was a time of change and great transition for us and a time of great difficulty.
And that was why – very quick emergent here, as well as at Sill and Riley, with what was going on. And lots has changed since then. We understand how to fight a counterinsurgency now. It has helped us enormously, not just put us on a successful path in Iraq. And by that, I mean in Iraq, where we can have elections, which we’re going to have someday, start to drawdown shortly thereafter and come down to about 50,000 by August.
And as they stand up a new government, look at a future that hopefully, is a sustained partnership with that country. And at the same time, be in a position to know enough about counterinsurgency as the best counterinsurgency force in the world, to be ready for the surge, which is ongoing on now in Afghanistan, on the military and on the civilian side, I might add. This isn’t just a military issue.
So when I think about the last couple of years and the extraordinary change – and the reason I talk about change is because it’s going to continue. And I don’t necessarily know where it’s going. I poke yesterday at Kansas State, at a Landon Lecture Series and I talked about my view of how military – how we need to think about applying military force in the 21st century.
And I talk about three principles, first of which is, the military shouldn’t necessarily be only the last resort. We have a strong relationship building capability, we have a strong engagement capability, we have a strong preventative capability. We have a strong deterrent capability.
Secondly, and I would hope this year, as you are looking at ongoing operations, you take a very careful look at what Gen. McChrystal has changed since he got there last June and how we are approaching operations there. And I’ll single out Marja. And the essence of that is civilian casualties, which we didn’t get to quickly enough.
We didn’t understand that even with Iraq, we didn’t understand it, in my view, quickly enough. And McChrystal gets it. He’s made it a priority and in some cases, he’s made it more challenging on the ground in terms of rules of engagement, instantaneous decisions, which need to be made to ensure that we are focused on the people and that we don’t generate strategic failure in tactical success.
And that is the focus of what I would call that second principle, which is precise and principle, meaning flip it around, if someone were coming into your village or your township and killing your family, you’d be hard-pressed to believe that they were there to help. It works in countries all around the world, the same way. So the principle of making sure we take care of those civilians.
And quite frankly, it is who we are as Americans. It is who we have chosen to be for a long time. So those first two principles and then the third one, which is this ongoing creative constant tension between policy and strategy in terms of executing with an expectation that it’s going to change as everything else is.
And the reason I focus on change – and I encourage you, in the year that you’re here, is to just take a couple books out on leading in a time of change. It is an extraordinarily difficult change and the most difficult – I think the most difficult kind of leadership there is. Many of you have grown up under constant change.
It would be easier for you than it is for my generation, but it is an – it is something that we need to continually address. And oftentimes, it results in – you’re required to make very difficult decisions in a world that must be more and more transparent. What we’re doing now, one of the aspects of Marja is – McChrystal was very clear.
When we were coming and engaged with the tribal leadership there, told them when we were coming, where we were coming and in fact, what our intent was. That’s a whole different way to think about warfare than what most of us grew up with. And what does that mean? And you’ll have some time, I think, to really plug that deeper and as it looks to – as you see what that means or what you think it means, what does that mean to the future?
You’re our future. I oftentimes get asked about how do I guarantee or what do I think the most important part of our future is in terms of our military? We just finished a quadrennial defense review that has a lot to do with it and we looked at – we tried to look out a few years. The single biggest area that I want to focus on in terms of relevance for the future is making sure we get it right for our people and our families.
No matter what we buy, no matter where we go and all of that has an unpredictability to it, I am extremely confident that if we keep the right people in with the kind of experience that we have, we’ll be just fine. And I really mean the right people, the right young officers, the right NCOs, not just any young officer, not just any NCO.
We have an opportunity right now to, based on our experience, to do that, that we haven’t had – it doesn’t come along very often. Most combat capable, most combat hardened force, certainly, in the more than 40 years that I’ve been serving and that is a guarantee for our future. But that doesn’t mean we have it right.
We need to think about what we haven’t been doing. I sat with some of the leadership earlier today and you will see, while you’re here, you have a need to expand just what I understand about counterinsurgency? What do I understand about warfare? What do I understand about warfare in this century? What do I understand? What am I missing? What have I missed in what I call garrison leadership?
Because we haven’t been in the garrison. We haven’t been required to do that, to execute those kinds of capabilities, if you will and lead our soldiers here. When I look at what’s changed in the Army, where we were two-and-a-half years ago, as we were standing up WTUs, as we continue to deploy brigades without divisions and divisions without corps and we deconstructed the leadership structure, if you will, which we can do for a while, but over time, it takes its toll.
And that is represented in some ways by what Gen. Corelli has discovered as the vice in terms of the suicide issue, the drug issue, the prescription issue, the shortage of counselors and rehab issue, that increased number of discipline problem – all those kinds of things.
Because we were focused on the mission – the number one issue, which was getting to fight. And I understand that, but there’s been a lot of stuff we haven’t done that we need to be paying attention to and we’ve got a generation of young officers that have not seen those kind of leadership requirements, who are unbelievably good in a combat environment.
And so how do we fill that as they become majors? And they get to a point where they’re battalion commanders and beyond that. So there’s an awful lot of change which is going on. I believe, as I indicated yesterday, briefly summarized here in terms of the application of military force in the future, and that is changing as well, how we make sure we keep the best people we have in, prepare ourselves for the future.
And one of the questions that I’m starting to ask is, okay, what about after Afghanistan? What comes next? What does our military look like down the road? What requirements do we have? What capabilities? What are we going to do? Where are we going to go? How do we train for it and how are we educated for it?
I was struck in a meeting I had just before this that essentially surfaced an issue that I think is vital for us as, not just the military but as a country and quite frankly, globally that the you know, one of the largest concerns that I have had for a long time is how do we get the economic engines going around the country so that in a secure environment, parents around the world can raise their kids to a higher standard of living?
It is a universal desire on the part of parents globally to do that. And as economics and fiscal status is going in the other direction in so many places, what does that mean? Because the better that is, the less likely we will need to be employed. And the opportunity we have to increase our engagements with relationships with, and in fact, prevent wars and conflicts from breaking out, I think is directly related to that.
And I was with a group that talked about, for the better part of an hour, talked about what we have to do as a military – what many of you have had to do, literally, on the ground with CERT (ph) which is create businesses, create jobs, what does that mean? And I don’t remember the training I got with respect to that. (Laughter.) I’m not sure any of you did either.
You’ll see more of that and I applaud that effort. We need to be thinking more and more about that, as I do. You’ve got classmates here from other agencies. You know, I’m looking for young officers to assign to the Treasury Department and to the Commerce Department and to Homeland Security. I’m looking for volunteers. (Laughter.)
The first question on your mind is, what happens to my career if I do that? And it’s a great question, but we have got to do more on that. I talk about international students who are here who learn an awful lot about America. We need to send students to their war colleges, for credit, so we learn a lot more.
There’s no way to learn more about a country than living in it, quite frankly. And we need to be thinking along those lines. And then I talked earlier about the trust issue. You’re going to hear from the Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States this afternoon and you do these things – and you do these things multiple times a day, everyday? These lectures? (Laughter.)
But you’re going to hear from him and where we are – it’s a country with which we’ve had a long and certainly – a critical relationship which has gone up and down over the years. And fundamental to that has been the trust issue. Do we trust each other and the answer is after we left them in 1989 – after we sanctioned them in 1990 – the answer is no, we don’t.
And if we don’t trust each other, we’re not going to work very well together. We are embarked on a plan to reestablish that trust. And if we don’t get there, we can’t meet the needs that we have. Pakistan’s a country which in fact – in which in fact lives al-Qaida leadership on a border that is the epicenter of terrorism.
And it’s not just about al-Qaida there because there are a number of terrorist groups there. They’re like families. They’re starting – they may not like each other – the separate families, but they’re starting to get along because they know they have to. And that threat continues to grow and it threatens, in many cases, certainly the people of Pakistan.
It threatens Afghanistan. It threatens our coalition. And in fact, at the al-Qaida level, they still greatly threaten us. You’ve seen them. You should be watching them branch out into Yemen. And will that end up being a safe haven? I think the same question is out there for Somalia and are there other places that are ungoverned which this capability will grow?
And in the end, I actually believe the way this – the way terrorism is defeated in the long run goes back to the economic model, quite frankly, where young men and women, mostly men, grow up to make positive decisions about their life, not a decision to join the extremists and kill as many innocent women and children and civilians as they possibly can. That’s out there a ways. But I think we need to work in that direction. So again, lots of change.
Lastly, I’d just like to say a word about leadership and I can cover a host of very challenging issues. You are all – and I say this in front of every audience. You are, by definition, first and foremost, leaders. That’s my expectation. I want to be very clear about that. You have technical skills, you have skills in certain areas, but in the end, what I’m paying you for is about leading.
And the reason I focus on this is because of the very, very challenging times and my own experience is that when it is most difficult is when leaders step up. Some are most intractable problems is when leaders step up in the toughest of times. And we’re there now – and I’d ask you to, just beyond being yourself, expand what that means to you in the time that you’re here.
How are you going to be a better leader when you get back out there? And for many you, this is a welcome break and I understand that time with your families. I’m delighted to hear so many of you have actually moved here with your families. Two years ago, that wasn’t’ the case. And that says an awful lot.
But you are – many of you will be back in the fight after this tour, if not immediately thereafter, you know, after that. So thinking how you – what you learn and how do we apply that to the future and how you lead in that environment, not by virtue of your pay grade, but by virtue of who you are as a person because that leadership is incredibly, incredibly critical to our success.
And when I focus on leadership, more than anything else, I focus on those we care about the most, those we influence in our leadership. And it’s every aspect of it: making sure they’re okay, making sure they’re being treated like you’d like to be treated, making sure they have a future, making sure somebody is mentoring him. You got here and succeeded because somebody made a difference in your life. It could have been your parents; it could have been your pastor; it could have been the sergeant major; it could have been your battalion commander, could have been your company commander; it could have been a coach.
Whoever it is – and I would only ask this model will only sustain itself is if you figure out how to bring someone along behind you as someone did for you. So lead. And leading is absolutely critical. And leading in these very, very challenging times.
I mentioned a couple of times and I will just come back to this and then I’ll open it up to questions. When I came here a couple of years ago, it was standing up WTUs. And we have come a long way in how we treat, engage, look for future opportunities for those who have sacrificed so much – not just those who are wounded, but families of the fallen.
I was taken aback a year or so ago, the number of spouses of the fallen who I met that had sort of been let go by us. And they were young; they had kids. All they knew was the Army or the Marine Corps or the Navy or the Air Force. And they are, many of them, are anxious to stay connected because it is all – it’s the culture they learn and they care a lot about. We just need to make sure that we don’t lose touch with them. And as those who are wounded reintegrate into society that we don’t just pass them from one stovepipe to another: the DOD stovepipe to the V.A. stovepipe to the rest of America stovepipe and we say, have a nice life.
We owe them more than that. We need to take care of them and meet their needs for the rest of their lives. And many of you know them. And my view is, what they seek is what we all seek, which is the American dream. You know, they’d like to raise a family; they’d like to go to school; they need, essentially, these days two sources of income. They’d like to own a piece of the rock.
It’s not a complex dream, but – and they are extraordinarily capable people. And we need to connect those three stovepipes in a way to make sure their needs are met over time. And communities throughout the country know they’re out there and that we’ll seek to meet their needs and that we facilitate that.
This isn’t something for the government to execute, but these young – and I say young – you know, in their 20s, going to be around for another five or six decades, will – they have made a huge difference; they will continue to make a huge difference in our country given that opportunity. And we owe them that opportunity for a future.
Anyways, those are some thoughts; I’m glad to take your questions. Thanks. (Applause.)
Q: Sir, good morning. Thank you for speaking with us. I’m CW-4 Robinson from Staff Group 11-Delta. Sir, in your speech yesterday at Kansas State University, you actually made some very prescriptive comments regarding the use of force, comments that some are now equating to a rollback of the Powell Doctrine. You also said that U.S. foreign policy is still too dominated by the military. Sir, were your comments designed in any way to infringe on the authority or the responsibility of unified commanders to set their rules of engagement within their own theaters or to conduct regional engagement as they see fit?
ADM. MULLEN: One of areas that, again, has changed – and for me it’s signature in that regard – is what McChrystal did in Special Forces. Actually, I brought him in as the director to the Joint Staff to do the same thing – not on the Joint Staff but globally. And he is doing this, doing it in Afghanistan. And that’s what I call transparency – so that everybody understands where we are and where I am as the chairman is constantly engaged with the combatant commanders who are charged with the full responsibility in their combatant commands from engagement to preparing for conflict.
And, in fact, my comments are much more focused on enhancing their capabilities in that regard because it speaks to the need to do this – from my perspective – on the whole of government, other agencies. That’s why I talk about assignments in other agencies for you or for others. I didn’t tell you, actually, the individual that asked the first question today, I’ve got a set of orders for you. (Laughter.)
And so it is in my view – and this is not – the fact that I said that I think our foreign policy is – that the military still has too much influence there is not – that’s not a new statement for me at all. I worried about this for years. I mean, we’re in Haiti right now, as I indicated, and we were able to rapidly surge a lot of troops, a lot of sailors, a lot of airmen, a lot of Marines, soldiers immediately. When we did that alongside USAID we did that in support of the government of Haiti, which was devastated by this, as well as the United Nations, which has, from a peacekeeping standpoint, has really done terrific work down in Haiti over the last several years.
And the message is, we just can’t do it alone. And we can do a lot. We have done that. We have been asked to do it. We have – we filled civilian requirements in Iraq because we didn’t understand fully what those civilian requirements would be, on the one hand, when we went in, and secondly we didn’t have the depth nor the expectations on our civilians that they would have to go do this. We didn’t recruit – we didn’t train in the State Department for the kinds of requirements that are there as well.
And I said – what is more than implied last night with respect to that is the military cannot do this alone. We can’t succeed alone. We can’t create success alone. We can enable it; we are a necessary part of this, but we are not sufficient. And we continue to evolve in terms of what the combatant commanders specifically are required to do.
And the intent of my remarks yesterday was not – they were, more than anything else, to state those three principles in terms of what I see, in terms of an evolution of the use of military force. And obviously it will be discussed and I think that’s fine. I think that’s important for us in these times and to do it in a way that, quite frankly, is transparent, back to what I said about McChrystal. I think you are living – you have had to fight this way much more collaboratively, much more openly.
And a model, again, is if McChrystal can do this with our Special Forces who are not necessarily outgoing – (laughter) – not necessarily wanting to publish to the world what they were doing. I understand that. I didn’t grow up that way. That is a signature example of how I think we need to proceed to the future. That does not mean that that’s – you know, paint every picture with that brush; that’s exactly what we’re going to do. I just think we need to think our way through where we are and what we are seeing happen in the fights that we’re in right now and then try to figure out in a world that’s pretty unpredictable what does that mean for the future.
Q: Sir, Maj. Rob Perry (sp) – (inaudible). Recently Secretary Gates speaking at the National War College said there is a crisis within NATO, saying that many members have not lived up to their obligations to provide resources and manpower for Afghanistan. Many countries that have contributed manpower such as Germany and France have simply put caveats on their forces and severely restricted their effectiveness to the overall NATO mission.
Many believe that due to the lack of real commitment in a time of need from alliance members that perhaps NATO has outlived its usefulness? My question is, is there a future for NATO? And, if so, what are some of the changes that you’d have to make a more effective alliance?
ADM. MULLEN: There is a future for NATO. Part of my remarks yesterday spoke very specifically to this. And I try to remind that there are 42 other countries with troops in Afghanistan. This is not the United States alone.
I’m well aware of the scope of our commitment versus other countries’ but literally as we more than double the number of forces we have going into Afghanistan over the last couple of years, so has NATO – and will with this surge. I’ve been in NATO a long time. I have felt that Afghanistan was a signature test for NATO’s future. It is out of area; it wasn’t what NATO was originally built for, but NATO, like many organizations and institutions, they’re working their way through to, well, what does NATO look like in the future? What does it mean?
What does the – what many people feel is the most critical part of NATO is collective security: What does that mean in the future? And, in fact, when several members of NATO looked at Russia going into Georgia a couple of years ago and nothing happened – now, Georgia is not a member of NATO; understand that. They are now asking questions about, okay, what does collective security really mean for me as a country?
Recognize that there are caveats and have been for some time. They are significantly reduced. We’ve all engaged: the secretary, myself, Adm. Stavridis, Gen. McChrystal – many of us have engaged to extract more capability out of – or to get countries to commit more capability; it’s their decision. They are democratic countries.
Particularly in the area of trainers, where we continue to be short – and that’s the eye of the needle. We can’t get where we need to go in Afghanistan unless we train the Afghan security forces. And some of those countries have some pretty – some very capable police-training capabilities, national police capabilities that we could use in the training world.
So we continue to address that issue. Many of those countries do as well. In the end, they are democracies; many of them are coalition governments and the coalition governments may stand or fall – as we watched the Netherlands the other day: Their government fell based on a decision that was made in terms of whether they will continue to be in Oruzgan province in Afghanistan.
And those are the realities on the ground in democracies, in countries that are members of NATO. And I think we need to continue to address those challenges. Many of us have been broadly critical because so few countries in NATO meet the 2 percent GDP of defense goal, which is what NATO has set out. We’re developing – NATO is developing a new concept for the 21st century, Strategic Concept, which will be presented towards the end of this year. And it is – we’ve got new leadership there – not just Adm. Stavridis, but Sec.-Gen. Rasmussen and there’s a lot of energy to try to get it right for NATO.
It has been the most successful – in my view – the most successful alliance in history. Alliances are important; partners are important. And I think it’s really important for all of us strive to – as a member of NATO to get it right for NATO in the future.
Actually – is it WINSEC?
Q: Yes, sir, WINSEC here, team alpha. My question relates to interagency collaboration in Washington. Looking at the combatant commander model, that has a comprehensive system to translate national security strategy to effective action at the local and regional level. And given that our contemporary transnational threats require a comprehensive strategy with proper civil-military coordination, how do other government agencies like the Department of State align with the combatant commander efforts in support of our national interest.
ADM. MULLEN: I would – from the interagency standpoint, it goes to the point I tried to make earlier. There is more and more alignment. Secretary Gates has been very clear. I actually spoke out a couple of years ago to say, we need to increase the budget of the State Department. And we do.
Their budget is principally people. There are other things, but it is principally people and they’ve been cut very dramatically. And those resources well-applied will do, I think, more than anything else for our national security. That’s a view I’ve felt for some time. More and more of us need to be involved in the interagency. And – (inaudible) – you are and I understand that. And this is down at the district level, quite frankly.
As we move into Marja and put governance in place, we are putting not just soldiers and Marines there – the Marines here would want me to say principally Marines; I’ve got that. (Laughter.) Not just Marines there, but we’re putting civilians in right behind them. And they are civilians that are focused on assisting standing up governments. And we can’t succeed in Marja unless we develop, unless we pursue governments there.
There hasn’t been much there for a while so it’s going to take us a while to obvious not just put it in place, but get it to a point where it starts to take root. But I would expand that to Treasury and I would expand it to Treasury business development, economic development, all aspects of what it takes to have a community thrive, if you will, once security is established. So that’s where we are.
And I see those needs growing over time. So – and, in fact, what I would like to see is diplomacy and policy – in fact, these are the rules – diplomacy and policy lead; we follow. So you talk about them aligning to us. It is really us aligning to them even though we’re in there first because security there has to be established before anything else can happen.
Q: Sir, Maj. Jenny Lern (sp), Staff group 11-Bravo. Good morning.
ADM. MULLEN: From where?
Q: Eleven Bravo?
ADM. MULLEN: Okay.
Q: Sir, when – (laughter) – you talk to Congress.
ADM. MULLEN: I actually know what 11-Bravo is outside the seminar group.
Q: When you talked to Congress in December and you said that you believe that there is a large percentage of the Taliban foot soldiers that can be reconciled and reintegrated with the right approach.
In January President Karzai announced his reconciliation initiative, which involves a two-tier plan – one, focusing on negotiating the senior Taliban leadership plus still trying to entice foot soldiers with promises of jobs and development projects. There has been widespread discussion amongst the media, think tanks, academia about the differences in our approach – namely that the U.S. does not want to negotiate with senior Taliban leadership.
Would you please comment on this difference of approach and how it might affect our relationship with Afghanistan over the next 18 months as we focus on reconciliation?
ADM. MULLEN: When you started your question, you were talking about reintegration and reconciliation. And sometimes those terms get confused. The reintegration really are the fighters on the ground and their desire to essentially come in and in fact not continue to fight. And there is some of that going on as we speak.
And Gen. McChrystal is working – and his staff, really – is working hard on how to do that. And you can’t – we’re not going to have much of a reintegration effort if they come in and then get killed. So they’ve got to come into a security environment; they’ve got to get into an environment that is actually going to employ them so they can provide for their families.
There are varying estimates about the percentage of the Taliban that are out there that potentially would come in. But it’s a pretty high percentage overall; I won’t pick a specific number. On the reconciliation piece, that is really at the highest levels of government and we recognize that that is going to – that must take place – we’re working – and it must be, from my perspective, led by President Karzai. And it is his country; these are his people – and done so in a way that actually everybody understands.
So we’re working hard to ensure we get everybody on the same page. And my – I was traveling recently – actually, not just traveling recently but in a – you know, with some of the members of the press recently when we were less than a week into Marja. And there is still – there was great hope both created and in the execution of Marja in week one and week two. And the question came, the question is kind of like, you know, is it – have we broken through? Can we see the end?
And my answer to that is, no, we haven’t and we can’t at this particular point in time. It’s very early in that discussion. The same is true of reconciliation. We know it’s important. I believe we have to do it from a position of strength. And what does that mean? And how strong do we have to be? And what are the guidelines that are there as President Karzai leads this effort? And we all have to focus on that.
And the questions – certainly what I talked about and the questions focusing on Afghanistan, one of the things I’ve learned is this is not just about Afghanistan; this is about the region: Afghanistan and Pakistan and other countries in the region. And everybody has got equities in this conflict. And how they participate and how we pull them all in and it gets led is really critical.
So we’re working our way through that right now. We just don’t have all of the answers. And that doesn’t mean we won’t because I think, you know, in the next few weeks it will be much clearer in terms of the specifics. We understand the overall requirement; now the specifics of how to do this and what are the conditions that will permit us to move into reconciliation.
So it’s a critical part; we’ve got to get it right. An awful lot of people, including President Karzai, working that hard.
Q: Good morning, sir. Maj. Rich Barry (sp), staff group 1-Charlie. A couple of years ago Secretary Gates called for increased ISR capabilities across DOD in order to better support the war-fighters down range. The Army has, in turn, increased its plans for fielding the new Sky Warrior unmanned aircraft system, eventually fielding 10 companies of Sky Warriors, one to each active combat aviation brigade.
The challenge – one of the challenges the Army faces is where to station these companies. Most of the CABs do not yet have the facilities or long enough runways to support the Sky Warrior nor do they have the mandatory restricted air space above in which to train these systems. How is DOD addressing this challenge so we can field, train and deploy these new companies?
ADM. MULLEN: You actually hit a really critical issue. And even though this isn’t the question you asked, I’ll just take the opportunity to – (laughter) – to answer it this way.
So I assign (the delta’s ?) capability and I give it to the brigades, right? Is that – that’s what you’re saying the plan is?
Q: Yes, the combat aviation brigades are supposed to get one company each which might enlarge it to one battalion later.
ADM. MULLEN: Okay, so for that company – expanding on whether – let’s just talk about company level: What do I have to do to have that – how many brigade commanders here? How many are former – I understand there aren’t any active. (Laughter.) How many want to make commander? (Laughter.) Okay.
So for those that want to be and certainly will, how do – when you have that company, by the time you get them we’ll have figured out this and I’ll answer the question then surely. (Laughter.)
How do I get you to give that up to the joint fight when you’re not using them? Because we don’t do that very well. We all like our toys and it is as if I give this toy up even if it’s resting on the ground, recuperate with capability. And I know I have a need somewhere else, how do I get my hands on it?
Now, I’m a service – I grew up with the service. I know what toys are. I understand that. And we train you to hang onto your toys under all circumstances. We don’t have enough money and we don’t have enough toys. So we have to figure out – so for you majors, then, raise your hand, if you can get to that position. That’s a change that has got to take place. And you’ve got to trust enough that it’s going to be used by someone else.
And that’s a big level of trust; I understand that, for lots of reasons. But we will depend on that capability. Actually I told you – and I would be – part of the rules that I forgot to lay out here are, if you ask a question I don’t know the full answer, I’ll – if you give me your e-mail address, I’ll get back to you. This will help educate me.
You know, so this is how am I going to organize, train and equip this capability. And it would help me understand that, as well. And actually, if you do give your e-mail address, I’ll be able to get you (a set of orders ?) (Laughter.) Now, it may not be where you want to go – (laugher). No, actually, I’m serious, if you do that.
And I actually haven’t been through the scheme of the timing – what I would call programmatic timing – to development. But it does speak to – and this is where leaders make a difference. And Secretary Gates has made a huge difference in lots of ways, but in particular, a couple of areas. The system would not respond to give us the ISR we needed for the fight because every commander I ever saw on the ground, whether it was at the Petraeus level in Iraq on down to battalion and company commanders, they needed more ISR.
And it isn’t infinite; we need to use it well. And that means the capability that we have. But if I tried to shift ISR capability from one brigade to somebody else, that was a bridge too far in many cases. Don’t even talk to me about it, said every general I ever talked to or every brigade commander I ever talked to; we don’t have enough.
Secretary Gates focused very heavily on this, and personally led this. I mean, he personally sits at the top of this task force. And actually, you know, when the boss sits at the top and does something, you can actually make something happen. So we have taken huge leaps in terms of overall ISR capability. But the appetite continues to outpace as we understand more and more what it can do; the ability to deliver. And then that will continue to be the case.
Another area that he focused on in that regard were MRAPs, where you couldn’t get a system out there quick enough because it saved lives and we knew that. And his personal attention – personally – I mean, sitting in on meetings on a regular basis to make decisions about what we were going to do.
And I’ll tell you a great story: We’ve had a – for the last two, two-and-a-half years, I’ve been trying to get more helicopters into the fight. That’s a universal requirement, by the way. Every country in the world needs more helicopters, every military does; you can’t get enough of it. And I’ve got 800 or so in the fight – I got 6,000 helicopters in this inventory. So what are the other 5,000 doing? Well, it’s my toy – (laughter). We’ve got to train, we’ve got to maintain
So Haiti occurs, we mobilize the Reserves and overnight – in fact, there were three – I think it was three great Guard helicopter pilots in Puerto Rico that literally – when the earthquake happened, they get in their helicopters, start flying and say, send the orders when you figure out the bureaucracy; I’m going. And we were able to mobilize in 24 hours several helicopter squadrons, and I’m going, well, where’d they come from? I’ve been looking for you guys. (Laughter.) And this was the same thing. And this was Reserve.
And as was pointed out to me when I asked that question, this is what we do. This is what the Reserves are all about. If you want to look for what’s going to change in the future, how we do Reserve, how we do Guard – how many Guard officers here? (Pause.) Two of you? One? (Laughter.) You’ve got to be stronger than that, man. I’m depending on you! (Laughter.)
The Guard, Reserve and the active – Army in particular but also Air – and then the other services, these conflicts have brought us closer. We need to sustain that closeness. It has not always been so. That’s a long answer to, how do I do ISR in the future with respect to the capabilities that are coming.
And often times, it’s not the platforms, it’s the training. We’re watching our Air Force literally – literally – change in front of our eyes. Flying unmanned platforms that are – that we – we would be very far behind if we didn’t have them, and someone years ago didn’t have the vision of this requirement. You have that vision, many of you; stay with it, stay with it. You never know when it’s going to come through. Redstone?
Q: Sgt. Maj. – (inaudible) – Redstone. President Obama stated his intention to – (inaudible) – prohibits openly gay soldiers from serving in military. If homosexuals are allowed to openly serve, then the Department of Defense implicitly endorses homosexual acts.
The military must then actually train its members with – (inaudible) – equal opportunity. I do not think it is right for the military to force me to attend a class in which I may be required to accept a behavior that my conscience and faith teach me as wrong.
How will the Department of Defense resolve this dilemma for those who believe that homosexual relations aren't normal?
ADM. MULLEN: What was the last sentence?
Q: Sir, the last sentence was, how will the Department of Defense resolve this dilemma for those who believe that homosexual relations aren't normal?
ADM. MULLEN: Okay, and then I heard the, “ooo’s,” – (inaudible). (Laughter.) I actually greatly appreciate the question. Certainly, I would assume that you have very closely read my testimony, and I would not repeat it all here except to say, for me, this is – and when you get to a senior level – three or four-star level – one of the things you do to get confirmed is you sign a document that says, if we ask you your personal opinion, will you tell us? And you swear that you will do that. And having full knowledge that my personal opinion would be requested, essentially I addressed it in my opening statement, as you saw.
And fundamentally for me, in an institution that treasures and values integrity, I cannot match that policy that we have, law and policy, for individuals or with an institution that values integrity by essentially having individuals who fight every bit as well as anybody else, who die just like any others, who make a big difference, who want to make a big difference, and certainly have, and then be essentially excluded because of their sexual orientation. And essentially, have to live a lie.
I recognize this is not agreed to by everybody. I am someone, and in my current position, having been through this in ’93 when I was an 06 at sea, and watched the electrification of the force, if you will, in this debate that occurred then, and I now lead a force which is very, very pressed, and I understand that.
So the goal is to not, in fact, electrify the force this time. And that for leaders to lead in this review responsibly from every single point of view, and that we can in fact – and I’ve done a lot of research on this – when you do the research, there’s just not any objective data out about the impact of the force.
So understanding what your view is and understanding other views – the impact you think it will have, the impact that our families think it will have and the impact that influencers think it will have as we continue to recruit – is really important.
And that’s what this review that Gen. Ham and Mr. Johnson will execute over the next several months so that we can then understand that – where we don’t, make recommendations to the president – and then look to proceed forward based on that review.
In terms of reconciliation of personal beliefs, you have to do that. You have to make a decision about, is this an institution you want to serve in based on the things that we stand for? I would never and could never do that for you. So I guess I’d leave the last part of your question just there.
I recognize this is not a simple task – and then I go back to that third point I made. I think it’s really important for leaders to lead as we work our way through this and try to understand the impact. And openness and honesty on your part, participation on your part, is really going to be important to make sure we get this right. Yeah? There’s a guy without a card – is that an – (inaudible, laughter).
Q: Sir, Maj. Chuck Dennaway (ph), Staff Group 14-Bravo. You talked about open and honest discussion about this difficult issue. How are we going to make sure that gay service members are allowed to have their opinion heard?
ADM. MULLEN: That’s a great question. In fact, Sen. McCaskill asked me that during the hearing. I didn’t really appreciate – I didn’t see it as that question exactly, but she had it exactly right. And it is a really important input. We haven’t quite worked it out but I’m comfortable we can – we’ve got mechanisms to do that, and recognizing we certainly aren't going to do it so that their future is jeopardized based on the current law. This is the law. This is not – I mean, it is policy which comes from the law, and there is this desire on the part of some to just have the president sign an executive order already. Every lawyer I’ve talked to says he can’t do that. It’s the law, very specifically.
We’re in discussion right now, as you may have read, with respect to whether or not we should create a moratorium. Sen. Levin has got a view we should do that. And the service chiefs all testified last week that that really would put a lot of people in limbo, particularly – and it would jeopardize their future if the law didn’t change, clearly. So these are some of the very difficult aspects of this issue that we’re working our way through. But we’re very committed to get all views here, including those who are serving who are gay and lesbian.
Q: Good morning, sir. Maj. Rick – (inaudible) – Staff Group 10-Alpha. Sir, over the course of your military service, what have you learned about balance between your personal life, your commitments to the Navy and also your personal goals, sir?
ADM. MULLEN: Generally, imbalance. (Laughter.) Actually, and I’m at least living in a time for the last – for me, for the last, let’s say 15 years – where I almost had to plan balance because if I didn’t, as you get more senior, you get bigger staffs, and I love them to death but they’d run over me with 18-wheelers every single day until I finally said, enough, because I asked for a lot; they want to do a lot. And unless I control my own life, if you will, to the degree I can, I can get pretty out of balance.
I talked to a brand-new group of one-stars, which I do in Capstone every time they meet, and one of my messages to them is, you’d better figure out how to take care of yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint. You’re seeing, I think, for the first time, we’ve got a health review here and you find out some of you are not healthy. And some of you are – you have genes which are certainly – that you’ve got to deal with. I mean, I have those.
I was actually young – when I was 42 years old, which was a while back now, but a friend of mine said I ought to get a PSA test. And the only thing I knew about PSA was, coming from Southern California, there used to be an airlines there that went belly-up a few years ago. But it was a simple blood test; I got it forever. And then when I’m 50 – how old was I – I think I was 54 years old, I got positive on the PSA, and I had prostate cancer, and so I have prostate cancer surgery, and that was early and I’m still here. And I’m thankful for that, quite frankly. (Laughter.) And so is my wife and kids – or, so are they.
But I work hard; I’m actually – you know, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, I’m going to take leave in a week – (laughter). And I came in the Navy – I came from a community that, you know, the red badge of course was, how many days leave a year could you lose? (Laughter.) You know, and initially it was 30, and then 60, and then when you could say 90, we could lose 90.
And then actually when I was an O-4, young officers would come in the Navy and say, are you nuts? Why are you doing this? What is it about your egos and your culture that says, this is good? And it isn’t good. It’s not healthy. It’s not healthy for you individually and quite frankly it’s not healthy for your country.
So you have got to carve out time and you’ve got to deal with your families, too. This is a great opportunity and I would encourage you to do it. But also, when you’re not here, this is – everybody isn’t here; you have friends that need that. And we need to recharge our batteries. And many of us haven’t.
And we need to deal with issues. How many recently back from Iraq or Afghanistan? And how long has it taken you to reintegrate with your family? Six months? A year? And then, you’re back on the track, if you will.
I tell the story – and it may apply here – that someone who started this is 2000 – started, deployed, went to OIE/OIF in 2003, and had a 10-year-old, and has been in the tent now for 3rd ID or you-pick-the-division, and has now completed four deployments, looking at a fifth one. You know, their son or daughter is just going off to college, and that relationship in those – in particular, those teenage years, there’s a lot of stress and a lot of potential in that relationship that has to be worked.
So being in decent physical shape, understanding where you are health-wise, understanding we’re seeing – you know, how are you dealing with the stress you’re in other than just plowing through it?
My wife and I see – she more than I – stress in family members, stress with spouses who are doing this time and time again. You are the – this institution hosts the command force; spouses whose husband or wife are in command, and who now have to lead the family effort in a command in a very stressful time when they have plenty of their own.
You just can’t leave this to just how it’s going to work out. And I think we’ve been under so much pressure so long, and we’re holding in a lot, that when things slow down, which we’re going to get to 2-to-1 here in the Army over the next couple years, twice as long at home than deployed. But when things slow down, I think we’re going to see a host of other challenges that we’ve been holding in and we’re going to have to deal with. So proactively dealing with that, proactively leading it personally as well as in your units, is absolutely mandatory from my perspective.
I was talking earlier about PTS and how do we deal? How do we deal with PTS? The simplest solution to that is, you leave. Mike Hagee used to be the commandant of the Marine Corps. A dear friend, I’ve known him – we walked into the Academy together when we were 17. And he was the commandant when I was the vice chief and actually, when I became the chief, we were peers together there as well; certainly, expectations neither one of us had.
But I can remember, he fought on the ground in Vietnam. And so very early, 2003, 2004, he said he didn’t know anybody – any one of his peers that had been in combat that didn’t have PTS. Not one. So it’s very common. The sooner you get at it, the less likely there are any long-term effects. The same is true for TBI. And it is something that we actually can deal with. So there’s a lot of effort going on with that, and we see it symptomatically – the stress levels in families – same thing.
So how are we dealing with that? It’s a long answer to your question; there’s a lot there. But you’ve got to take care of yourself. Every one of you is an extraordinarily valuable asset, resource, person, leader. And this is the long run, here. This is not, get it done in the next six months because that just isn’t going to happen. So I’ve actually worked at it pretty hard.
So I have since that day in 1981, when it was pointed out to be that it really shouldn’t be a red badge of courage for losing leave, now I’ve not lost a day’s leave. We get 30 days a year; we ought to take it. Easy for me to say – (laughter) – but I’ve always worked at that. and I’ve tried hard to work with my family – I’ve got two sons – and there are things I did well and things that I would like – would look back on and say, I wish I’d spent more time on. It goes quickly so like anything else, you’ve got to have a plan. These days, it just won’t happen as a random event. But it’s a great question.
Q: Sir, Maj. – (inaudible) – Andrews, Staff Group 24-Bravo. Sir, I think it’s a great idea to embed the military into the DOS and DOD agencies in other countries to help build on close partnership and interagency cooperation. Sir, my question is, is it too late for senior majors like us to be part of this program, or is the program designed for young captains?
ADM. MULLEN: No, I don’t think it’s too late. I think all of us in senior leader positions need to look at how we do that because those skill sets are going to be absolutely critical. And at the major level – and this is true in all of the services I see – we’re running out of schlips (ph) in terms of any room to do additional things because you’ve got to come here and you’ve got to get a master’s, you’ve got to deploy, you’ve got to have certain jobs.
And I grew up in a world – and it’s still out there – in the end – I’ll use a specific example. So I’ve created something called Af-Pak Hands. And I’m trying to carve out about 1,000 military members that focus on for the next several years – that essentially focus on nothing but Afghanistan or Pakistan. Because I don’t have time – I don’t have six months to learn about Afghanistan when I show up. I’ve got to know it when I get there – whoever I am.
That means – and I was encouraged earlier to hear – and I want to get this right – this was at the University of Kansas – because they would not want me to call them anything else like Kansas State – (laughter) – but, University of Kansas, KU, which teaches 41 languages. Anybody that’s going to Afghanistan and Pakistan after this, you need to know Dari or Pashtun. And you need to not just know a few phrases; that’s going to make our overall mission better.
So we’re about to send for the first time a couple hundred individuals who we’ve spent months training in these languages just before they go into the fight. When they come back, they’ll come in as some staff that’s worked in Afghanistan or Pakistan. So it’s a very focused effort to make sure for my number-one priority, which is this fight, is that we get it right.
And I am struck – so when those individuals come before a promotion board, here’s how promotion boards work: (Inaudible.) I call it ducks picking ducks. And if your record comes up and there are ducks in the room and you’re not a duck, you don’t get promoted. So the only way that this Afghan Hands program can succeed – exceptional people – is that when that tour of peers at the selection board, they get promoted. Nobody is in this outfit to not get promoted. I understand that. And that applies – that actually ducks-picking-ducks thing applies in a lot of ways, not just this.
So what I am glad to see in all of the services, in the precepts now, which are written before a board by the secretary to say, this is an important consideration for this officer in terms of his or her selection for a promotion. If that weren’t there – and I’d have somebody on the board who was knowledgeable of that – when that record appears, you don’t get demoted.
The same would be true if I sent you to the State Department or to the Treasury. The only way in my own service that I am able to see that – see individuals survive – is if I sent number-ones. A board can’t kill a number-one no matter where he or she has been. But they can kill a number-two. And I can’t afford to lose individuals like that.
So we have to get the career patterns right, the promotion boards right, for those things that we care most about, and those changes to our promotion systems change rapidly enough to meet those needs.
Now, if you have never been on a board, get on one. It will change – you can do this board – we are always looking for people to help out on boards. As an administrative assistant, it will change how you evaluate people forever. It will change how you view and compete people against each other forever because you’ll understand the system into which you are putting, placing, these individuals. It has an awful lot to do with our future.
Okay, I have – I’ll take one more question.
Q: Sir, Maj. – (inaudible) – Staff Group 15-Bravo. The U.S. government has run a trillion-dollar deficit for 2 years and suspects to look at another trillion-dollar deficit next year. How does the increased budget deficit of the national debt affect the Department of Defense operation’ strategic planning, and is the Department of Defense looking at a reduction of force structure after we complete missions in Iraq and Afghanistan?
ADM. MULLEN: Part of – it was a short comment but the comment I made last night in the remarks, and this is the principal piece of change. And it’s not just how we apply military power but it’s how we look at the future – and we’re doing a lot of that right now. And in looking at the future, and certainly recognizing this fiscal pressure, my view is – and I’ve done this twice – I’ve been in the military when we’ve done this twice. And we’ve gone – (inaudible) – twice. And I will – (inaudible) – that.
So my expectation is that as pressures continue to build, the first thing we’re going to have to look at is force structure, and keep what we have whole – all our capabilities. That will require tough decisions.
I spent a lot of time talking about this with these one-stars, who will lead this effort as these pressures continue to build. And to match up what we’re being asked to do, and how does that match the national security requirements that we have globally, in the world in which we’re living, which I described earlier.
So we’ve laid out a vision in the QDR for the next two years. I personally recommend – or, I personally look to an increase in pressure and less resources, I couldn’t tell you one year or 10, but I think it will result in, if we do this right, if I’m able to lead it like I want to lead it, it will clearly be a smaller force structure. I don’t see that tomorrow or the next day.
And we are inside this massive fiscal challenge in our country and globally. And the tensions in meeting the requirements that we have, as well as recognizing and truly, truly being good stewards of our resources.
For the last 10 years in the Navy – we had a CNO in 2000 work hard that really put us on – where’s the money going? Where are our people and where is the money going and what is it doing for us? That’s a question that has to be answered by every single service chief as we move forward.
And in the times of rising budgets, we lose our requirement to make tough choices, we lose our analytical capability because the money keeps flowing in. Those days, for the foreseeable future, are gone. And I’m comfortable – my first priority will be to resource the fight we’re in, make sure we take care of our people, and then the last thing is, and not insignificantly, is the tour. What are we going to buy, what equipment, where do we place our bets?
Too many programs have run way over cost and schedule, and cost us too much money, as you saw Secretary Gates propose, and Congress subsequently agreed to kill an awful lot of programs that were doing that. A very important message in that regard. We can’t afford to be wasting resources.
So as we add 22,000 extra to the Army – and I told the chief on day 1 when he came into do this, it won’t be long before your people come in and say, we need to keep that 22,000. That’s another 2 billion-plus a year, inflated over time. And we have to answer the question, what am I going to trade for that? And the answer isn’t, everybody else’s budget.
One of the things the chief is doing for you young majors, I’ll tell you this, the Army for too long has not valued those people who actually do budget programs. And by that I mean, putting individuals in the – (inaudible) – for promotion at the three and four-star level, so when you have individuals in those jobs that actually know, have a background.
Gen. Casey is changing that because when you’re a chief or a vice chief, you spend a lot of time on money and programs and people. So while I said getting it right for our people is absolutely mandatory for the future – and I’m committed to that – it’s the right number. I want every single person I need and not one person more because I can’t afford it and I’m making a trade.
There’s a raging health-care debate in the country. I understand that. We have our own health-care challenges. Our health care is good but our costs are going through the roof, and I am trading that – (inaudible) – stuff, people, as part of the – (inaudible).
Okay, thanks, thanks for what you’re doing. Remember what I said about your families; please tell them. God bless you. (Applause.)