ARLINGTON, Va., Nov. 18, 2011 — Examining what makes the profession of arms a profession is important to service members, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told members of the Military Reporters and Editors group here today.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said this becomes even more important as the number of troops deployed to the wars drops. “It will help inform us as the demands on the force go down and we go back to a military that has a certain amount of time to train,” he said. “How do we define ourselves, how do we inspire ourselves; what’s our raison d’etre, why would a young man or woman want to be in?”
He noted that officers typically at 0–4 or below and enlisted personnel at E-6 and below “know nothing in their career other than counterinsurgency, Iraq and Afghanistan.”
The question once these issues fade is “what is it that binds us as a profession to each other, to the nation, and what are those attributes we need to be delivering in our personnel policies and professional military education.”
This segues into one issue that concerns the chairman: how to keep people used to working independently in the field to a garrison environment. “This is why each of the services has challenged those responsible for training and doctrine to find out how we ‘replicate’ — although I am not satisfied with the word — the challenges and experiences and the learning that has gone on over the past 10 years,” Dempsey said.
The military has learned to conduct operations in and among a population — an enormously complex task that entails tribal engagements, understanding religions, understanding effects of different types of terrain and understanding the capabilities of different types of military systems. “I can’t replicate that in the physical world at Fort Hood, Texas, … just can’t do it,” the chairman said. “But I might be able to replicate it in the virtual world.”
The military will have to make investments, but the technologies may allow the joint force to link together to continue to deliver the complexity of the battlespace at home stations. “The good news in all that is this generation … is actually quite comfortable in that virtual environment,” he said.
Future threats and constrained resources will shape the security environment. There will continue to be threats from terrorist and extremist groups in the future, Dempsey said. Threats from Iran and North Korea will continue.
“Then there are some emerging powers that we do not consider to be threats, but we want to make sure that our actions over the next 10 years doesn’t create a self-fulfilling prophecy that causes any of them to become threats, at the same time building our capabilities against the possibility that we got it wrong,” the chairman said.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)