USA — Joint Forces Must Maintain Balance, Admiral Says

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Sept. 15, 2010 — The suc­cess of joint forces depends on their abil­i­ty to bal­ance com­pet­ing inter­ests – from prepar­ing for strate­gic risks to air, land, sea and cyber pow­er, to the work-life bal­ance of ser­vice­mem­bers, the direc­tor of the Joint Staff said here today.

“In joint doc­trine, bal­ance per­me­ates every­thing,” Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gort­ney said in a keynote speech to the Air Force Association’s Air and Space Con­fer­ence 2010 here. Gort­ney was asked to fill in for Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, after Mullen’s grand­daugh­ter was born yesterday. 

“We need to have the right mix of train­ing, per­son­nel, and equip­ment,” Gort­ney said. 

Flex­i­bil­i­ty is key, the admi­ral added, because his­to­ry has shown it’s impos­si­ble to pin­point mil­i­tary needs of the future. That’s espe­cial­ly true today, he said, due to evolv­ing threats in cyber war­fare and from quick­ly emerg­ing mil­i­taries in places such as China. 

“If his­to­ry has taught us any­thing, it’s that the next war will bear lit­tle resem­blance to the past,” Gort­ney said. “There is no doubt that 15 years from now, we’ll talk about how we got it wrong in 2010.” 

The focus on land forces in today’s wars could turn to air and sea pow­er for the next con­flicts, Gort­ney said. Con­cepts for joint air-sea bat­tles are a nat­ur­al tran­si­tion for the future, he said. 

The Air Force has a proud his­to­ry of inno­va­tion and hard­ware exper­tise that it must con­tin­ue so it can “be ready to respond to needs not even imag­ined,” he said. 

Coor­di­na­tion also is crit­i­cal to joint forces, as is rela­tion­ship-build­ing, said Gort­ney, who com­mand­ed U.S. Naval Forces Cen­tral Com­mand, the U.S. 5th Fleet and the 26-nation Com­bined Mar­itime Forces in the Ara­bi­an Gulf. But, he added, “rela­tion­ships are not built overnight, and they’re not built through e‑mails and tweets.” 

Gort­ney said tough deci­sions will have to be made while defense bud­gets flat­line for the fore­see­able future. 

“The down­ward pres­sure on the defense bud­get is real,” he said. “We’re in a posi­tion of hav­ing more mis­sions than stuff, so low pri­or­i­ty mis­sions are going to suf­fer. We have to fig­ure out the right bal­ance and fig­ure out where to take risks.” 

The most impor­tant area to strike a bal­ance is not in equip­ment or train­ing, Gort­ney said, but in the lifestyles of ser­vice­mem­bers. And in a com­pli­ment to the audi­ence, he said the Air Force leads the ser­vices in allow­ing work-life balance. 

“The Air Force, hands down, does a bet­ter job of it than any ser­vice,” he said. “It’s why I live at Bolling Air Force Base.” 

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

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