USA — Chairman Notes Persistent Conflict’s Long-term Impact

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 — The chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today offered a warn­ing of what to expect for vet­er­ans, the mil­i­tary ser­vices and the nation after a decade of war.

“This decade of per­sis­tent con­flict has had an impact that we are just begin­ning to come to terms with, … an impact of untold costs and an unde­ter­mined toll,” U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told an audi­ence at the 2010 Asso­ci­a­tion of the U.S. Army Annu­al Meet­ing and Expo­si­tion here. 

Mullen called the Army and Marine Corps the “cen­ter of grav­i­ty” of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and said their “enor­mous adapt­abil­i­ty and courage” have made them the best coun­terin­sur­gency force in the world – some­thing they per­fect­ed in less than three years. 

“I stand in awe of what the Unit­ed States Army has accom­plished,” he said, adding that he believes the mil­i­tary will meet its oper­a­tional objec­tives in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But, Mullen said, the mil­i­tary and the nation as a whole should be pre­pared for the war’s costs: phys­i­cal, men­tal, fam­i­ly and finan­cial prob­lems among vet­er­ans; dimin­ished non­com­bat capa­bil­i­ties; expan­sion of the vet­er­ans health care sys­tem; high unem­ploy­ment rates; and homelessness. 

“There are many sol­diers and vet­er­ans com­ing home for whom the bat­tle has­n’t end­ed,” he said. “For many, it’s just the beginning.” 

Sol­diers and Army vet­er­ans already are expe­ri­enc­ing these prob­lems, Mullen not­ed, and he added that “what we can see today is tru­ly just the tip of the iceberg.” 

Sol­diers and their fam­i­lies will ben­e­fit from increased “dwell time” at home between deploy­ments, Mullen said, but he warned that some prob­lems are more like­ly to arise with the reduced struc­ture and lead­er­ship on the home front. 

The Army can bet­ter address such prob­lems by build­ing resilience in sol­diers from the first day of basic train­ing and by teach­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal fit­ness on par with phys­i­cal fit­ness, Mullen said. “We need to teach sol­diers psy­cho­log­i­cal fit­ness skills just as sure­ly as we teach them to march, wear a uni­form or shoot,” he said. 

The chair­man called for the return of “good old-fash­ioned gar­ri­son lead­er­ship,” which he described as “engaged, focused, and in some cas­es, intru­sive,” to deal with the pro­found oper­a­tional shift fol­low­ing a decade of war. 

Today’s young offi­cers and non­com­mis­sioned offi­cers who know only the post‑9/11 expe­di­tionary Army include “an incred­i­ble group of young, com­bat-hard­ened lead­ers,” Mullen said. But they haven’t been home enough to expe­ri­ence the dif­fer­ent, but no less per­sis­tent, lead­er­ship demands on the home front, he added. 

“We have cre­at­ed a gen­er­a­tion of sol­diers test­ed to the extreme, want­i­ng to be test­ed again,” he said. “How do we keep their adren­a­line run­ning? How do we keep them engaged con­struc­tive­ly? How do we sus­tain excel­lence as they tran­si­tion away from combat?” 

Young lead­ers have to learn, he said, that “we are all account­able for our sol­ders’ well-being whether those young men and women are on duty or not.” 

Aside from the human and fis­cal cost of the wars, the ser­vices will have to deal with what Mullen called the oper­a­tional oppor­tu­ni­ty cost. 

“There are tasks we aren’t able to do any­more, mis­sions that we haven’t trained for because we are so heav­i­ly engaged,” he said. “Across our armed forces, I wor­ry about young Marines who have nev­er deployed on a ship, artillery offi­cers who haven’t fired a gun in years, fight­er pilots who have not honed their air-to-air skills.” 

The ser­vices will have to con­sid­er how to fos­ter, devel­op and retain their best young lead­ers, the chair­man said. 

“Our young lead­ers will be essen­tial for the care of our sol­diers, the future of our Army and, ulti­mate­ly, I believe, the direc­tion of our coun­try,” he said. 

The chair­man encour­aged audi­ence mem­bers to hire for­mer ser­vice­mem­bers wher­ev­er pos­si­ble, espe­cial­ly wound­ed veterans. 

“This is a gen­er­a­tion that is – in a way I’ve nev­er seen before – wired to con­tribute and wired to serve,” he said. 

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

Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

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

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →