Dempsey Pledges to Lead Military Through Transitions
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 18, 2013 Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that he will do his best to live up to U.S. military members’ legacy of service to the nation and to lead the Defense Department through an era of historic transitions if the Senate approves his nomination to serve a second term as the nation’s top military officer.
President Barack Obama nominated Dempsey to continue serving as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the principal military advisor to the president, defense secretary and the rest of the National Security Council.
Dempsey vowed to strengthen the relationship of trust within the military and the bonds of trust between the American people and their military.
“We cannot take this relationship for granted,” he said. “Historic transitions are testing our ability to meet our obligations. We are in the midst of a difficult fiscal correction to restore the economic foundation of our power. We are also transitioning from war to an even more uncertain and dangerous security landscape.”
Even as money becomes scarce, the risks are increasing, the general told the committee. “If we do not manage these transitions well, our military power will become less credible,” he said. “We will foreclose options, and we will leave gaps in our security.”
Dempsey said leadership will help to close these gaps and help with the military transition, and that the United States can remain a global leader and reliable ally. “We can make our military more affordable without making our nation less secure,” he added.
First, leaders must ensure the national security strategy is correct, Dempsey said. This means aligning U.S. aims with abilities.
“Strategy is nothing if not about setting priorities,” he said.
Part of the strategy is to rebalance focus to the Asia-Pacific region, Dempsey said. But even as this happens, he added, the U.S. military still has many missions that must be performed, such as defending the homeland from cyber, terrorist and missile attacks; achieving objectives in Afghanistan, deterring provocation on the Korean Peninsula, assuring and assisting allies, and setting a more responsive posture for a “new normal” of combustible violence.
“As we respond to new contingencies, we must come to terms with the risks and costs to these existing obligations,” he said. “We may have to do less, but we should never do it less well.”
The military also needs to get the force right, the chairman said. “This means keeping our military ready and balanced,” he told the senators. “So far, we are getting it wrong.”
Military readiness has plummeted, he said, and though this will take time and money to restore, it’s not too late to recover.
“Remove the budget uncertainty,” the chairman told the lawmakers. “Slow down the drawdown. Help us make the seemingly intractable institutional reforms. If we do this, we can build a joint force to meet the nation’s needs for a price the nation is able and willing to pay.”
Because people are crucial to the way forward, the general said, the military needs to strengthen the profession of arms while keeping faith with military families.
“Ours is an uncommon profession -- one that must value character as much as competence -- that rests on a foundation of learning and leadership that advances equal and ethical treatment for all its members and that allows no quarter for sexual violence in all its destructive forms,” Dempsey said.
The United States owes it to the young men and women who serve the best training, leadership and equipment before going to war, the chairman said. “Get this wrong, and we’ll get nothing else right,” he added.
Finally, Dempsey said, the United States must get national and international relations right.
“This means staying connected to our allies and most importantly, our fellow Americans,” the chairman said. “Now is the defining moment in our nation’s relationship with its 9/11 veterans. This generation is a national asset. They are ready to contribute in their communities. They need opportunity -- handshakes, not handouts.”