Dempsey Looks to Future in Time of Budget Constraints
By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 19, 2012 As fiscal constraints reshape priorities, the military will become a leaner force but one still able to provide the nation’s leaders with options, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told an audience at the National Press Club here that he and other Defense Department officials will build the future force with a focus on balancing manpower with technology to meet mission requirements. The force of the next decade, known as Joint Force 2020, must be postured to confront whatever challenges the United States faces, he told the forum.
“Ultimately we have to protect the nation from coercion” -- whether that’s on the high seas, in cyberspace, or on land, Dempsey said. “We’ve got to be able to provide the nation’s leader with options, so we can’t afford to become a niche force.”
The chairman noted the drawdown of troops from Afghanistan and also said about 120,000 personnel will transition out of the military in the next decade. This will prompt an important linkage between DOD and the Department of Veterans Affairs and other organizations that assist service members migrating into the private sector.
The drawdown from Afghanistan will enable the United States to direct greater attention to demographic, economic and military shifts in the Asia-Pacific region. Joint Force 2020 also takes into account the deepening partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.
“Our presence there will help promote stability, while our absence will be the destabilizing influence,” Dempsey said. “I want our partners to know that we’ve been in the Pacific … but we’re starting to re-engage in a more positive and proactive way.”
Dempsey also confirmed the United States’ commitment to improving strained relations in Pakistan.
“Pakistan is our most complex relationship … but it’s an important relationship.” He noted that U.S. officials remain committed to promoting peace in the region in the wake of roughly 44,000 civilian and 14,000 military deaths there since 9/11.
Whether serving in Central Asia, the Middle East, the Asia-Pacific region or other places around the world, Dempsey said those entering the military can expect more innovative professional development and training to confront modern threats.
“We’ve embarked on a campaign to renew and refresh our understanding of what it means to be in a profession – not in an occupation – but a profession,” Dempsey said.
Despite budgetary constraints, the Defense Department must make sure it maintains a ready, competent force composed of people capable of performing future missions.
“We can’t trade manpower for technology,” Dempsey said. “We need to find that balance between investing in technology, investing in manpower and not become enamored of shiny objects.”