Mullen Urges Military to View World Through Other Peoples’ Eyes
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
CANBERRA, Australia, Feb. 23, 2008 In a time of change, military personnel have to have the capacity to see the world through other peoples’ eyes, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here, yesterday.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the students at the Australian Defense College that it was a previous trip to Australia that hammered that point home to him.
Mullen said he was having consultations with the Australian Defense Forces, and the operations chief put up a map with Australia at the center.
“I hadn’t seen a slide without the United States at the center,” Mullen told the students. “It kind of threw me off. Up in the right hand corner of this slide was little, little star and that was the United States.
“What that slide reminds me of is when you are in Australia and you live here, you see the world from Australia. All of us do that around the world,” he said.
Every country of the world has maps with that country in the center. “As we are engaged around the world, we ought to be mindful of seeing it through other peoples’ eyes,” he said.
The admiral said he needs help to see the world as an Australian sees it. He needs to understand the security challenges facing Australia in the region for sure, but he also needs to understand the trade connections, the cultural connections.
The changes that occur politically are also an example, Mullen said. Australia has a new administration. The United States will have a new administration in less than a year. All of these things need to be examined and understood.
Geography, obviously, influences how a country defines a threat and what priority the nation places on countering it, Mullen said.
Seeing the world through another country’s eyes can be even more basic, he said, and U.S. military personnel have to ask themselves questions from that nation’s standpoint. What are the threats? How does a country confront the threats and how does the military fit in to that picture? How does a country build a security policy when the pace of change is accelerating and the crystal ball is clouded? How much should a country invest in conventional forces and how much should it emphasize unconventional resources? And what part do allies play?
These are questions that military personnel from all countries ask as a matter of course, he said. But all servicemembers need to ask the same questions from a different country’s perspective.