Vice Chairman Urges Civilian Leaders to Encourage Military Service
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 17, 2006 The vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called on civilian academic, business and community leaders yesterday to use their influence to encourage young men and women in their communities to consider military service.
Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks to participants of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference in the Pentagon briefing room, Oct. 16. JCOC is a seven-day conference in which civilian community leaders travel to overseas military bases to get a better understanding of U.S. armed forces and the overall mission of the Defense Department. Photo by Cherie A. Thurlby
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Navy Adm. Edmund Giambastiani spoke with members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference before they left for a weeklong trip through the U.S. Central Command region to meet U.S. servicemembers and observe them at work in support of the global war on terror.
“I think when you come back, you will be amazed at what these young people do,” the admiral told the group.
Giambastiani emphasized just how young America’s military members are: typically 27 or 28 years of age on aircraft carriers and Army brigade combat teams, and even younger in most Marine Corps units.
“These are very young people who are very dedicated, and they are all volunteers,” he said.
U.S. military leaders “went kicking and screaming into an all-volunteer force” when it was established in 1973, the admiral acknowledged. “They said it would never work.”
Yet today, the all-volunteer U.S. military has develop into a highly skilled, highly motivated force, and military leaders “would never go back” to the pre-1973 military, he said. “That’s because, when we do things voluntarily, we get quality people,” he said.
Ensuring a steady stream of volunteers is critical to the continued success of the all-volunteer force, Giambastiani said, particularly as it conducts its first sustained wartime operations since its creation in 1973. “The care and feeding of this all-volunteer force is very important,” he said.
That’s why it’s important that the adults who influence young people’s decisions about military service understand exactly what troops are doing and how they feel about the contributions they’re making, the admiral told the group. “We want to expose you to our young people,” he said. “The important thing is for you to see them in action.”
Giambastiani urged the JCOC participants to take time during their trip to talk with the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen they meet. “When I go to the field, I get rejuvenated,” he said. “I believe that you will feel the same, and impressed by what you see.”
He encouraged the group members, after they return home, to draw on the experiences they’ve gained to encourage the young people they come into contact with to consider serving in the U.S. military.
“You influence these young men and women, and you influence other influencers” — parents, teachers, coaches and other adults young people turn to for guidance as they make decisions about their future, Giambastiani said.
“It takes a tremendous number of influencers to help this nation field a military,” he said. “We operate this young force based on young people and on how our civic leaders help us recruit.”
The JCOC program has been introducing civilian “movers and shakers,” many with little or no military exposure, to the U.S. armed forces since the first U.S. defense secretary, James V. Forrestal, created the program in 1948.
Participants are selected from hundreds of candidates nominated by military commands worldwide and pay their own expenses throughout the conference.