Mullen Cites Culture of Change During Air War College Address
By Army Staff Sgt. Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2008 Change is the cornerstone and is at the heart of every aspect of today’s military, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told more than 800 Air War College students at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Ala., yesterday. Video
“I see it in technology. I see it in people. I see it in missions. I see it in the joint world, and I see it in the coalition world,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said. “I see change spanning the full spectrum of what we’re required to do right now.”
Speaking to a crowd of mostly senior U.S. Air Force officers, Mullen spoke about some changes occurring in their pilot ranks, citing new requirements and advancements in unmanned aerial vehicles. The remotely controlled UAVs gather imagery intelligence and even launch attacks on enemy forces, minimizing the risks pilots need to face.
“When you look at the requirements, we have to fly unmanned vehicles,” Mullen said. “That’s hard stuff, because you want to fly a jet, but now, all of a sudden, your career path gets ventured into sitting behind a console.”
Though it may not be exactly the excitement pilots signed up for, the UAV mission is as critical as any other during today’s fights in Iraq and Afghanistan, the admiral said. Mullen added that in the foreseeable future, more and more pilots will be operating UAVs.
“You may not like that, but I’m telling you that’s a vital mission, and we are going there,” Mullen said.
The focus on change in today’s military is visible in its efforts in the Middle East, Mullen said. Improvised explosive devices once were almost too much for U.S. forces, he said, but vigilance and the ability to learn their enemy allowed U.S. troops to adapt. Today, a high percentage of roadside bombs are discovered before they even have the chance to detonate.
“We have dramatically closed the gap in the IED war,” he said. “In 2004, we were a far second in that war. We were months down the road to adjustment. But now we are adapting more quickly than [the enemy].”
Mullen challenged the students to share their ideas and experiences during their year in school as they spend time away from today’s heavy operational tempo. He assured them that changes, advancements and progress aren’t stopping, and reminded them that the military will expect them, as leaders, to adapt whenever necessary to ensure national security.
“We live in a time of enormous change, and it will continue to change,” he said. “And you, by virtue of your seniority, are at the heart of that change.”