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Senate Confirms Shelton as Next Chairman

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 1997 – The Senate unanimously confirmed Army Gen. Henry H. Shelton Sept. 16 as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Shelton takes the position Oct. 1. He succeeds Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, who retires Sept. 30.

During confirmation hearings, Shelton, chief of U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., said his most important consideration was the welfare and readiness of the men and women who make up America's armed forces.

"Allow me to reaffirm my dedication to the great men and women in uniform who guard our freedom 365 days a year," he said before the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 9. "Those great Americans have performed brilliantly during more than 50 operations and joint task force deployments since the end of the Cold War."

Shelton called American service members the backbone of U.S. national security strategy and said they deserve unwavering support. DoD must create "a work environment that allows our members to reach their full potential and reinforces their confidence and that of the American people in our institutions and traditions," he said.

Shelton expects to set high professional standards for service members and promote an atmosphere of respect, openness, responsibility, integrity and fairness.

Shelton, 55, told legislators he wants no "fair fights when our forces are committed." This means DoD must move ahead with plans for modernization. "If America is to retain the ability to protect its interests into the 21st century, we owe it to our people to provide them with the best tools possible to do the job." He told the committee this means DoD must recapitalize and reach the $60 billion level for modernization. He said he supports further rounds of base closures to help reach this level.

Shelton also addressed operational and personnel tempo issues. He said part of the problem with these issues may be self-imposed. In the past, he said, training exercises were important to keep readiness of units up. Since the end of the Cold War, most deployed units are doing their jobs in real world settings. Scheduling training exercises, in addition to deployments, drives perstempo up and, in fact, may work against readiness.

"[Current Chairman Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili] in fact reduced the numbers of joint training exercises by 15 percent in the 1998 to 1999 time frame," Shelton said. Officials are looking at further reduction through 2001 to try to reduce personnel tempo.

Shelton said he fully supports NATO enlargement. He said NATO has given 50 years of peace to a troubled continent, and the addition of 300,000 service members from Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic will help the rest of NATO in terms of burden-sharing. "But the real value, I think, will be in bringing them into an environment that will increase the communication, the coordination and hopefully, therefore, the cooperation among them and the other NATO members," he said.

He told legislators, the world is more volatile, complex and unpredictable than during the Cold War. "We had basically a bipolar world [during the Cold War] and two superpowers that could exert influence to a greater degree than any one particular country can today," he said. "I think as part of the Quadrennial Defense Review strategy, when we look at the shaping peace, we fully realize that peacetime engagement and being involved on a global basis would be the right way to go as part of our strategy."

Shelton praised Shalikashvili. "Gen. Shalikashvili has provided superb leadership and clear direction in helping to guide our military through a period of unparalleled military activity," Shelton said. "[He] leaves to America the world's finest fighting force and a joint vision that puts us on the track to achieve our goal of full-spectrum [military] dominance well into the next century."

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