USA — Building Resilience Must Start at Basic Training, Mullen Says

WASHINGTON — Lead­er­ship that builds resilience in ser­vice mem­bers and their fam­i­lies start­ing with the first day of basic train­ing is essen­tial to the U.S. military’s future, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

“That kind of invest­ment up front will pre­vent us from the expen­di­ture of a huge num­ber of resources down the road,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told the audi­ence of 600 peo­ple at the Defense Cen­ters of Excel­lence for Psy­cho­log­i­cal Health and Trau­mat­ic Brain Injury’s third annu­al War­rior Resilience Con­fer­ence in Arling­ton, Va.

The conference’s “Total Force Fit­ness” theme sup­ports a joint strat­e­gy to build resilience for ser­vice mem­bers’ mul­ti­di­men­sion­al and holis­tic fit­ness.

“This is as impor­tant as who we are, where we are and what we need to do with respect to the future as any­thing we have,” Mullen said.

The need for resilience emerged over time, the chair­man said, and it’s only going to grow.

“We’re going to see a set of prob­lems we’ve been stuff­ing away in com­part­ments that we did­n’t want to deal with that are poten­tial­ly going to rise dra­mat­i­cal­ly in terms of sever­i­ty and sheer num­bers,” he said. “We need to attack that issue, not just wait for it to show up.”

Mullen not­ed that Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has talked about lead­er­ship tak­ing care of ser­vice mem­bers when they’re home, “which is some­thing we haven’t been focused on in a long time.”

The chair­man said he recent­ly vis­it­ed Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., not­ing that the 35,000 troops there rep­re­sent the largest num­ber of ser­vice mem­bers sta­tioned there in a long time.

“It struck me that the only ones who knew any­thing about [that kind of lead­er­ship] were the E‑8s and E‑9s. … They took care of that lead­er­ship at a time when we had­n’t done that kind of lead­er­ship for almost a decade,” Mullen said.

But that group even­tu­al­ly will rotate out or retire in the next few years, he added.

“We are in a race to pro­vide gar­ri­son lead­er­ship that is crit­i­cal to our future to those sol­diers and air­men, there [and] across the board,” the chair­man said. Ser­vice mem­bers who now are home between deploy­ments for twice as long as has been the case over the last decade will present chal­lenges that “deeply pen­e­trate” them and their fam­i­lies, Mullen said, call­ing it a fun­da­men­tal change that also alters the mean­ing of total force fit­ness.

A men­tal health assess­ment team that has gone into the com­bat the­ater about a half dozen times to look at the troops’ men­tal health recent­ly briefed the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the chair­man said.

“The mes­sage that came out is we’re bet­ter than we’ve been, and in some ways sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter,” he said. “We have been able to build resilience in ways a cou­ple years ago we did­n’t under­stand an awful lot about.”

And while much still is unknown, he added, the ser­vices will be “in the ad hoc world with respect to that until we sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly approach ‘This is one way to do that.’ ” Mullen told the group he fre­quent­ly address­es men­tal health and resilience and feels pas­sion­ate about it is because the military’s future is at stake. He not­ed that over the next few weeks, the fis­cal 2012 defense bud­get will be a hot top­ic in the nation’s cap­i­tal.

“We’ll talk about our peo­ple, but often­times the con­ver­sa­tion gets dom­i­nat­ed by the ’stuff,’ ” he said. “If we don’t get it right for our peo­ple and put togeth­er the kind of capa­bil­i­ties we have, … it won’t make any dif­fer­ence what we get.”

Many good peo­ple are leav­ing the mil­i­tary, the chair­man said, and the nation can’t afford for that to con­tin­ue. “The impact of that will be long-term, sig­nif­i­cant, and it won’t mat­ter what kind of [bud­get] we have com­ing,” he said.

Anoth­er con­cern the chair­man dis­cussed is what he calls an “unwill­ing­ness to reach out to the best there is.”

“Many of us think we are the best there is, and I under­stand that and want pro­fes­sion­als who think that way,” he said. “But the best there is needs to lis­ten to some­body else who’s the best there is. Too often, we’re far too lim­it­ed in our will­ing­ness to look in oth­er places [or] to lis­ten to break­throughs that occurred some­where else [that] may apply to us. “This has to do with the speed, the open­ness and the urgency to get at the chal­lenges that exist,” he con­tin­ued. “We can­not rest on our sta­tus quo, no mat­ter how good we think we are or some­body else says we are. There’s change that’s con­stant­ly occur­ring [that is] par­tic­u­lar­ly invig­o­rat­ing and a dif­fi­cult chal­lenge.”

Change must be led by lead­ers to make a dif­fer­ence, Mullen said, not­ing that with the active involve­ment of lead­ers, the best prac­tices can be extend­ed into the Vet­er­ans Affairs Depart­ment and into the com­mu­ni­ties where vet­er­ans live.

Mullen acknowl­edged that more work needs to be done to improve the tran­si­tion for ser­vice mem­bers’ care when they sep­a­rate from the mil­i­tary.

“We have a sys­tem that’s incred­i­bly stovepiped — that says while you’re on active duty or while you’re wear­ing a uni­form, the Depart­ment of Defense takes care of you. After that, the VA takes care of you. And after that, the VA turns you over to com­mu­ni­ties and says, ‘Have a nice life,’ ” Mullen said. “So we take our most pre­cious resources, [the] peo­ple we care about so much while they’re here, and we turn them over to oth­er stovepipes and hope it goes well.”

Break­ing down those stovepipes is essen­tial, the chair­man said, so vet­er­ans “who made such a dif­fer­ence, who sac­ri­ficed incred­i­bly, are well tak­en care of for the rest of their lives.”

Total fit­ness through indi­vid­u­als to their fam­i­lies and their expe­ri­ences real­ly is the mes­sage of today, the chair­man said. “Build­ing that to the best pos­si­ble lev­el we can pos­si­bly build it is absolute­ly required,” he added.

Mullen urged the audi­ence to tack­le the issues, under­stand solu­tions that might exist, and adopt the best prac­tices until some­thing else comes along – keep­ing in mind those whose lives are changed for­ev­er and the fam­i­lies of the fall­en.

“As one sur­viv­ing spouse told me, ‘On Mon­day, I was in the Army. On Tues­day, I was gone,’ ” the chair­man said. “We need to make sure that does not hap­pen any­where. They sac­ri­ficed too much, and they’re too spe­cial.”

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

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →