NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Nov. 7, 2011 — Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey gave National Guard leaders the CliffsNotes version of U.S. military strategy for 2020 during a talk at the Guard’s Leadership Conference here today.
Leaders must look beyond near-term problems, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, addressing those while keeping an eye to the future to build the type of forces needed for national defense.
The idea of building for one contingency has to be a thing of the past, Dempsey said. The Cold War strategy called for the military to combat the Soviet Union. The post-Cold War strategy called for the military to be able to fight two major contingencies near simultaneously.
Today, the range of threats are different. “We’re never going to try to build a force that’s only capable of doing one thing at a time,” he said. “That would be silly. It would be ill advised.”
The military has to figure how to build a force with the capabilities to do far more than one thing, he said, and Pentagon planners are working on it.
The second thing driving the strategy is geographical priorities. “We’ve been focused and we’ve prioritized the Middle East, but there is every reason to believe that the next decade will see demographic shifts and economic shifts and military shifts into the Pacific,” he said.
Dempsey stressed that the shift in focus does not mean the military will ignore other areas of the world. “We are a global power,” he said, adding that the United States must pay attention to other areas of the world, and will.
A third change in strategy will be to reshape the relationship among active, Guard and reserve forces. “This strategy will cause us to reconsider, re-examine and re-articulate — and then resource — the relationship among the active, Guard and reserve,” Dempsey said. “You are the part of the force that allows us to take some risks in other parts of the force.”
The fourth change is among general operations and special operations forces. Historically, the missions have been distinct. But the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have merged the missions with general operations forces often working hand-in-glove with special operators and vice versa, Dempsey said.
“We’ve seen a merging of those capabilities to the great benefit of our missions and the great benefit of national security,” he said.
Finally, the strategy must deal with the whole issue of cyber warfare, Dempsey said. It cannot be a one-off problem, he said, adding that the cyber world is vital for the military and more needs to be done to address it.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)