Mullen visits Fort Bragg community
June 3, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The U.S. armed forces' highest-ranking officer, Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, dropped in on the Fort Bragg community Wednesday and spent time with Fort Bragg Soldiers.
Mullen visited with Soldiers from the post's Warrior Transition Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps and the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. He also took time to meet with Soldiers for an all-hands question and answer session while at the Soldier Support Center.
During the meeting, Mullen spoke about the state of the U.S. military forces and said he was interested in hearing any concerns the Soldiers may have or any challenges they may be facing.
"I know we have challenges, we're in our ninth year of war, two wars, multiple deployments," he said. "The pace has been quicker than any of us anticipated and it's been sustained. While we are coming down in Iraq, we'll be down to 50,000 (troops) by the end of August and we'll add a few more thousand by the end of this year in Afghanistan."
He said he expects the deployment pace to slow down over the next two years, particularly with the Army, adding that the goal is to ensure that the ratio for the Soldiers' deployments and dwell time reaches a 2 to 1 ratio.
"We're moving towards being home twice as long as we have been deployed, as opposed to being home about as long as we've been deployed and then we turn around again," he exlained.
"We've been doing that, really, since 2003."
Mullen said that he did not think the deployments would end and added he did not know how long the war in Afghanistan would last or what the deployment cycle would look like.
He thanked the Soldiers for their service to the nation, saying that the U.S. has probably never had a better military force than it has right now.
"My first war was Vietnam," he said. "We were in a draft war and we moved to an all-volunteer force and you are exceptional. I would argue with anyone that you're the best military we've ever had in our country and I believe you're the best military in the history of the world."
Mullen was asked if there were any plans to use Fort Bragg assets to assist in the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico.
"No," he said. "Not that I'm aware of. The military has provided an awful lot of seaborne vehicles for skimming oil, about all of the booms we have and there is about a couple million feet of boom down in the gulf now, a significant amount of which is ours and we've provided air assets to help with dispersion."
Mullen also said he thinks the country's biggest threat to national security is "our own debt."
"We're going to take the equivalent of a year's defense budget of this year or next year, which is almost $600 million and that's the interest on the national debt in 2012 or 2013. That's not sustainable. Not just for the military but also for the rest of the country," he said.
Mullen also addressed the U.S. military's service in Haiti, medical concerns for Fort Bragg Family members, the possible repeal of the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and care and reintegration of wounded warriors back into Army units.
Soldiers at the event said they were pleased that he took time to visit with them and address their issues.