Vice Chairman Provides Guidance to NDU Graduates
By Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
Special to American Forces Press Service
FORT LESLEY J. MCNAIR, D.C., June 7, 2007 The United States and its allies are engaged in a long war that will require continuing international partnerships, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani addressed more than 1,000 people in attendance at the National Defense University Graduation, including the 559 combined U.S. and international graduates from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the National War College and the School for National Security Executive Education.
“This long war engages us with allies and partners around the world, beginning with our continuing mission in Afghanistan against al Qaeda and the Taliban,” Giambastiani said. “But it extends far beyond Afghanistan now.
“In Iraq with our coalition partners, we are engaged in a continuing struggle to establish a decent society at peace with itself and with its neighbors in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the world.”
The admiral said it is critical to build alliances to respond to a wide range of possible contingencies.
“We are working around the world to build partner capacity to eliminate terrorist and criminal safe havens, to respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises, and to extend the rule of law and the blessings of liberty,” he said.
The “long war” is also a much different war than what transpired during the latter half of the 20th century, he said.
“It is, in my view, much more challenging than the relative certainties of the Cold War in which I grew up professionally,” he said. “In those good old days, so to speak, we faced an identified enemy and a well-understood threat. Today, our enemy wears no uniform and defends no borders, avoids the responsibilities of government, flouts the laws of armed conflict, and employs technological know-how and operational agility informed by a ruthless intent, while at the same time sowing the seeds of doubt in our populace.”
The admiral said this type of war presents enormous challenges that a year at National Defense University will help the graduates face with more knowledge and better skills.
“We need you to get back to this hard work before us, invigorated by a year of reflection, armed with new ways of thought and sustained by the camaraderie you have built during your year here.”
To accomplish this, there needs to be strong cooperation throughout government and with “application of all our instruments of capability, power and influence,” he said.
“Without these, we may win each tactical engagement but unable to win the peace and prosperity that is our strategic goal.”
For the U.S. servicemembers, Giambastiani said most of them had been battle tested already and will leave to serve as combat commanders, which will require them to use the tools they learned at NDU.
“All of you will have to think hard about how your efforts contribute to the campaign; about how to achieve the effects desired; and – indeed – to think fundamentally about what outcomes we can and should achieve in our military operations around the world,” the admiral said. “We have a thinking, adaptive and ruthless enemy. You must outthink him and you must outfight him even as you maintain the values of our nation and uphold the honorable traditions of our United States armed forces.”
The admiral also had a distinct message for the allied members of the audience.
“I have consistently maintained that in operations around the world, the United States military will need capable and committed partners,” Giambastiani said. “I think this is even more true today. The knowledge you take back with you will be critical to our ability to work together on common problems, with a common framework, in a professional and productive manner. Even more importantly, the relationships of trust and confidence that you have built will pay enormous dividends for all of our nations in the future.”
For all the class to succeed, he said, the graduates will require an ability to convey complex ideas in a clear, compelling and straightforward manner.
“The essence of effective communications is a radical simplicity that enlightens, rather than a mass of detail that simply confuses,” Giambastiani said. “The audiences you will need to communicate too are wider and more diverse than ever before and include your fellow citizens, national leaders, media representatives and the troops you have been privileged to lead. And without such an ability to communicate, the lessons you have learned here at the National Defense University and throughout your career can’t be applied effectively, if at all.”
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Staff public affairs office.)