Dempsey Details Vision of 2020 Military Strategy

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)