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Chairman Identifies ‘Tough Questions’ Facing U.S.

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2007 – In his first public speech as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen last night identified pressing questions the United States faces as it attempts to counter emerging threats while maintaining a position of leadership. (Video)

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen gives his first public speech since becoming chairman at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, Oct. 25, 2007. The event was hosted by the Center for a New American Security which develops strong national security and defense policies promoting and safeguarding American interests and values. Defense Dept. photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Speaking to an audience at the Center for a New American Security here, Mullen said the United States today is confronted by threats from transnational terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The country also must preserve the “freedom of action” to contend with regional instability, deter aggressive action by potentially hostile state actors, help manage the growing competition for natural resources, and mitigate the effects of natural disasters and pandemics, he said.

The nation will need to maintain a posture that takes advantage of all the opportunities for international cooperation and progress the globalized world has to offer, he added.

“So tonight, I invite you to consider some tough questions and help your military help me rigorously analyze the major strategic challenges we face as we develop a dynamic military strategy of cooperation for the 21st century,” Mullen said. The questions the chairman posed are:

-- How can a violent extremist movement that increasingly targets the integrated nature of the largely globalized world be effectively eliminated in both the short and the long term?

-- How can the development of weapons of mass destruction by or the transfer of associated technologies to aggressive regimes and radical extremists like al Qaeda be prevented?

-- How can regional instability stemming from accelerating global integration, intense nationalist and religious movements, and the spread of technology throughout the world be mitigated and localized?

-- How can the United States military remain sufficiently capable to deter aggressive actions by nations like Iran, North Korea, and others who seek to expand their military capability?

-- How can countries like China and Russia be effectively engaged to ensure that their growing regional influence translates to cooperative participation in the global economic system?

-- How will global industrialization, world population expansion, and migration affect the consumption rates, the distribution, and the long term availability of vital resources such as water and energy?

-- How will competition for those resources affect global stability, and what role will the military play in managing these risks?

-- How can the local, regional, and potentially global effects of another tsunami like the one that hit in the Indian Ocean Basin almost three years ago or another earthquake like the one that devastated parts of Pakistan in 2005 or another Hurricane Katrina or even the California wildfires that dominate the news today be mitigated?

-- What impact will a massive natural disaster or a global pandemic have throughout the world, and how can militaries work together to alleviate the shock to the global system?

-- How can we do all that is required of us and still remain good stewards of our nation's resources?

Mullen described such queries as “tough questions with no easy answers.” He encouraged Americans to consider the questions and use them to stimulate debate.

“I am eager to engage your diverse intellectual resources and thoughtful debate,” he said, “and welcome your contributions in identifying potential answers to these and other critical questions.”

Contact Author

Adm. Michael G. Mullen, USN

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