Apolitical Military Fundamental to Democracy, Chairman Says
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
CANBERRA, Australia, Feb. 23, 2008 The idea that the military is an apolitical organization is fundamental to democracy, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told students at the Australian Defense College here yesterday.
During a question and answer session, one of the students asked the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff how he “manages the expectations of politicians.”
The chairman quickly told the students that it is not a process of managing expectations, but of education.
The basics of national security transcend party, he said. In December, Australia changed administrations. But the support for the military remained strong, he said, and the transition was seamless.
“I credit the military leadership with a significant part of that,” he said.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s job is to provide his “best military advice” to the president, defense secretary, National Security Council and Homeland Security Council.
Best military advice is not contingent on party, he said, and he, of course, will carry out the lawful orders of the president no matter what party he or she is from.
“Clearly one of my goals is to educate … anybody who is in a position of responsibility politically and provide my best advice to every one of them about from the military’s perspective and what we should be doing, where we should be investing, where we should be operating,” he said.
“Early engagement” with politicians is important, the chairman said. He does not want to first speak with a political leader when there is a crisis. “Sometimes that happens, just because there are a lot of crises,” he said.
Speaking constantly with political leaders builds trust and confidence, Mullen said.
“I would put it in terms of trying to create an understanding of the reality of the military and security environment that we are operating in, the capabilities that we bring, the relationships that we have and what is the best way to apply them to the challenges that we have,” he said.