Mullen: Army Looks to War College for Leaders

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 — If the mil­i­tary takes care of its peo­ple and their fam­i­lies, then the future will be assured no mat­ter what it brings, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told stu­dents at the Army War Col­lege today.

 U.S. Army War College in Carlsile Barracks, Pa.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, address­es audi­ence mem­bers at the U.S. Army War Col­lege in Carl­sile Bar­racks, Pa., Feb. 10, 2011.
DOD pho­to by U.S. Navy Pet­ty Offi­cer 1st Class Chad J. McNee­ley
Click to enlarge

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke at the Commandant’s Lec­ture Series at Carlisle Bar­racks, Pa. He told the stu­dents that they can­not under­es­ti­mate the scope of the change the mil­i­tary has been through in the past 10 years. 

“We’re depend­ing on lead­er­ship in these extra­or­di­nar­i­ly chal­lenges times,” he said. The past decade has changed the ser­vices and now is the time to sort through that change to answer the ques­tion of “who we are right now,” he said. 

The mil­i­tary has gone through rough times in the past decade, he said. He chal­lenged the stu­dents to exam­ine the change and see if “the eth­i­cal com­pass is true, is our over­all com­pass true? Where are we going in the future? What have our young ones … learned about us that we need to address as lead­ers, and what do we need to teach them as they mature? Are we keep­ing our best young officers?” 

The chair­man said that as bud­get time approach­es, most peo­ple mea­sure it in the mis­sions giv­en and the equip­ment bought. “The mis­sions and stuff make no dif­fer­ence in our health in the future,” he said. “(Our future is) guar­an­teed in terms of good health if we keep the right people.” 

One fun­da­men­tal change in the mil­i­tary over the last decade is the role that mil­i­tary fam­i­lies have played and the rela­tion­ship of the ser­vices with those fam­i­lies. He said a ground forces junior offi­cer in 2001, has prob­a­bly deployed five or six times in the past decade, forc­ing fam­i­lies to cope with long absences. 

The ser­vices have put in place pro­grams to help fam­i­lies and rede­ploy­ing per­son­nel. But as bud­get pres­sures begin to grow – and they are grow­ing now, Mullen said – the fam­i­ly pro­grams are the first to unwind. 

“I don’t want to do that,” he said. “I think we would do that at our per­il. The chal­lenges keep com­ing and we can’t seem to get them off the plate. 

In yes­ter­year an issue would come up, we’d deal with it as a coun­try and we’d move on,” Mullen added. “Now the plate isn’t get­ting any big­ger, but they won’t go away. You as the future lead­ers of our mil­i­tary must under­stand it.” 

The chair­man dis­cussed the nature of the change and the issues around the world. He told the stu­dents – almost all of whom served mul­ti­ple deploy­ments in Iraq and Afghanistan – that the mil­i­tary must con­tin­ue to change and adjust. 

He said they need to exam­ine all of the world. The pre­pon­der­ance of resources today flow to U.S. Cen­tral Com­mand, Mullen said. As it should with Amer­i­can troops are involved in two con­flicts there. “But this means there is an inabil­i­ty to invest in small ways in oth­er parts of the world, and if this con­tin­ues, this can be very dan­ger­ous,” he said. 

He told the stu­dents that Amer­i­can forces will be out of Iraq at the end of the year, and said those who served there should be proud of the work they did. “There is a night and day dif­fer­ence every time I vis­it,” he said. Iraq has formed a gov­ern­ment and they are deal­ing with pol­i­tics and not with war as they move forward. 

The major U.S. effort is now, of course, in Afghanistan. “In a very tough fight, but it’s bet­ter there,” Mullen said. “But as I said many times it’s not just secu­ri­ty, there has to be a lev­el of legit­i­ma­cy in the gov­ern­ment of Afghanistan. That’s got to be cre­at­ed over the next three to four years.” 

Mullen also praised the efforts of Army Lt. Gen. William Caldwell’s NATO Train­ing Mis­sion in Afghanistan. He said they have built the train­ing infra­struc­ture, trained the instruc­tors and devel­oped the cur­ric­u­la for the Afghan Army and police. “On aver­age we have 30,000 to 35,000 trainees at one time,” he said. “Two years ago that num­ber was miniscule.” 

This was Mullen’s third trip to the Army War Col­lege, and he spoke of his 43-year career. “To cycle from the war we were in when I was first com­mis­sioned, to the wars we are in in the last decade in a posi­tion of lead­er­ship has tru­ly been an extra­or­di­nary oppor­tu­ni­ty,” he said. “It’s been a great ride.” 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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