USA — Mullen Tackles Questions in Virtual Town Hall

WASHINGTON, Sept. 14, 2010 — Navy Adm. Mike Mullen took on some of the military’s tough­est top­ics – all posed from ser­vice­mem­bers, spous­es and vet­er­ans — in a vir­tu­al town hall meet­ing sched­uled to air at 1 p.m. EDT today on the Pen­ta­gon Chan­nel.

From tol­er­ance of ser­vice­mem­bers’ reli­gions and sex­u­al­i­ties to Iraq, Iran and “win­ning” in Afghanistan, the chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took nine ques­tions sub­mit­ted online via YouTube, Face­book and Twit­ter and answered them in a Sept. 8 tap­ing that marked the sec­ond install­ment of the Pen­ta­gon Channel’s “Ask the Chair­man” pro­gram, which began last year. 

In response to the first ques­tion, tak­en from a senior air­man at Malm­strom Air Force Base, Mont., Mullen said the draw­down of forces in Iraq already has increased the time ser­vice­mem­bers spend at home – known as dwell time – between deployments. 

The rede­ploy­ment of some 100,000 troops out of Iraq in the past year, down to 50,000 at the end of August, has increased dwell time for Marines and sol­diers “who bore the brunt” of repeat­ed deploy­ments to the coun­try, Mullen said. Dwell time will con­tin­ue to improve as the remain­ing troops return at the end of next year, he said. 

Asked by a recent vet­er­an about Iraq’s future, the chair­man said the Unit­ed States will con­tin­ue a strate­gic rela­tion­ship with Iraq, but the specifics have yet to be deter­mined. “What we’re wait­ing for right now is for Iraq to stand up their gov­ern­ment,” he said. “Until then, we can’t real­ly know specifics.” 

Until then, Mullen said, he “is com­fort­able that 50,000 is enough” U.S. troops to help Iraq sus­tain secu­ri­ty and advance its government. 

Asked how Iran might affect “post-with­draw­al” Iraq, Mullen not­ed that Iran, Iraq’s neigh­bor to the east, has a rich his­to­ry in the region, and that it invest­ed in try­ing to influ­ence Iraq’s nation­al elec­tions ear­li­er this year. “I would hope it would become a sta­bi­liz­ing influ­ence, but now it’s a desta­bi­liz­ing influ­ence,” he said. 

The chair­man not­ed that U.S.-Iranian rela­tions have been stalled for 30 years. “Even at the height of the Cold War, we still talked to the Sovi­et Union,” he not­ed. Mullen said he wor­ries about a “mis­cal­cu­la­tion” between Iran and the Unit­ed States and said there is “no ques­tion” Iran will con­tin­ue to try to influ­ence Iraq. 

On Afghanistan, Mullen reject­ed a char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the coun­try being in “the Stone Age,” say­ing much progress has been made there and that U.S. goals there are less than a 21st cen­tu­ry democ­ra­cy. A “win” there would be a secure Afghanistan, with­out cor­rup­tion, and with good gov­er­nance, he said. 

Mullen added that the Unit­ed States only recent­ly began ful­ly resourc­ing the mis­sion in Afghanistan. “We’ve been in there for nine years, but we’ve only had the right resources in the past year to 18 months,” he said. 

A retired Army offi­cer asked Mullen about allow­ing gay ser­vice­mem­bers to serve open­ly, to which the chair­man repeat­ed his posi­tion that the so-called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law should be over­turned. “For me, it’s fun­da­men­tal­ly an integri­ty issue” to not force ser­vice­mem­bers to hide who they are, he said. 

The Defense Depart­ment issued hun­dreds of thou­sands of ques­tion­naires to ser­vice­mem­bers and their spous­es this sum­mer as part of a report on the impact of chang­ing the law that is due to Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates on Dec. 1. 

A Mus­lim ser­vice­mem­ber asked the chair­man if there has been a mil­i­tary round­table dis­cus­sion about reli­gious tol­er­ance, in light of reports of intol­er­ance toward Mus­lims among non-Mus­lim Amer­i­cans. Mullen replied that he is not aware of such a dis­cus­sion, but that it may be a good idea. 

“There is a need for under­stand­ing each oth­er and our dif­fer­ent views,” he said. “We, as a coun­try, sup­port reli­gious freedom.” 

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 →