By Jeff CrawleyOctober 25, 2007
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Army News Service, Oct. 25, 2007) - The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said great military leadership can solve the military's seemingly intractable problems.
"You've seen it, you've done it and I will depend on that for the future," Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told more than a thousand Command and General Staff College students, faculty, staff and visitors Oct. 23 in Eisenhower Auditorium of the Lewis and Clark Center. "I expect you to be great leaders in a great time of change."
Adm. Mullen, who was sworn in Oct. 1, serves as the principal military adviser to the president, secretary of Defense, the National Security Council and the Homeland Security Council.
In addition to leadership, Adm. Mullen spoke about serving in the military, the support of military families and career development during his 20-minute presentation.
Today's service members are serving in the most critical time during the past four decades, Adm. Mullen said.
"It's a very dangerous world, it's a very unpredictable world," Adm. Mullen said. "We're in what I consider to be a war for a long time."
Adm. Mullen graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 during the days of the draft. He said there is no comparison between today's professional military and the armed forces that the United States had then. Today's U.S. military is the best the nation and the best the world has ever seen, Adm. Mullen said.
"It is because you're here, because of what you do and those who you represent that are not here," he said.
Adm. Mullen also acknowledged military Families.
"You don't do it alone, you do it with extraordinary family support," Adm. Mullen said. "I'm grateful for that - their service, their support, particularly in the last several years."
Adm. Mullen said he has asked his joint staff to work heavily in three areas.
First, the staff needs to develop a military security strategy for the entire Middle East to make it a more stable region. The focus would be on Iraq and Afghanistan, however, it is bigger than that, Adm. Mullen said.
"We've got challenges in Iran ... we have challenges to what's going on in Lebanon," he said.
Second, Adm. Mullen has tasked the military leaders to revitalize the armed forces, especially the Army and Marine Corps.
The Vietnam War with its long deployments and many other factors put so much pressure on the military that "we became detached from the American people and the military broke," Adm. Mullen said. "I am not interested in revisiting that space, whatsoever."
And third, Adm. Mullen said, the military needs to recognize and address the emerging challenges to America's security in other parts of the world, such as Latin America, Africa and Northeast and Southeast Asia, he said.
Adm. Mullen then fielded questions from the audience and the press for about an hour.
Responding to a query about the need for military and interagency cooperation in today's theater, Adm. Mullen said interagency involvement is critical because the military can't do it alone. All agencies, not just military, need to look inside and see how they best position themselves for the future, Adm. Mullen said.
In a response about reinstituting the draft, Adm. Mullen reiterated that he is not anxious to return to a draft force.
"The exceptional, professional military that we have right now, I wouldn't trade over it," Adm. Mullen said.
Adm. Mullen clarified one point to a reporter about public support for the military. In his travels, Adm. Mullen said he frequently asks Americans how they feel about their military. There is overwhelming support of troops from Americans and that is important to the health of the country and also the armed services, he said.
Adm. Mullen deferred one question about a new maritime strategy to the chief of Naval operations but addressed global and coalition responsibilities and the role of all the U.S. armed services.
"We are still the United States military with an expectation that we will win our nation's wars," Adm. Mullen said. "I don't want anybody to mistake that that is who we are or what we do or what we need to develop to be capable of doing in the wars of the future."
In closing, Adm. Mullen thanked all the service members and their families for their support.
"The one edge that we got is this noble calling that we fill, and thank you for doing that," Adm. Mullen said.
(Jeff Crawley writes for the Fort Leavenworth Lamp.)