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Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at the National Guard Joint Senior Leadership Conference

By As delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey, National Harbor, Md.
GENERAL CRAIG MCKINLEY (Chief of the National Guard Bureau): Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce our chairman, General Martin E. Dempsey. He’s a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he returned later in his career to teach in the English Department. As a young company-grade officer, General Dempsey served in the 2nd Cavalry in Europe and the 10th Cavalry at Fort Carson; numerous assignments in the Middle East, including a deployment with the 3rd Armored Division, supporting Operation Desert Storm, and an assignment training and advising the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

General Dempsey commanded the 1st Armored Division in Baghdad and Germany. In 2005, General Dempsey returned to Iraq as commanding general of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. General Dempsey also served as deputy command and then acting commander of U.S. Central Command and commander, United States Army Training and Doctrine Command. He also served briefly as the Army’s 37th chief of staff before taking on his current responsibilities.

General and Mrs. Dempsey – Mrs. Dempsey’s in our front row – Deanie, thanks for being here – are the parents of two Army veterans and one serving United States Army officer. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey. (Applause.)


GEN. MCKINLEY: Thank you, sir.

GEN. DEMPSEY: It’s quite a group.

GEN. MCKINLEY: It’s quite a group. It’s all yours, sir.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Thanks. Thanks. (Applause.) Thanks. Please have a seat. I haven’t had that many applaud since I sang “New York, New York” last. Happy birthday. Three hundred and seventy-five years, that’s unbelievable really – remarkable. I told Ray Carpenter he doesn’t look a day over 350. (Laughter.) Deanie and I are delighted to be here with you. I think I’ve had the chance almost every day for the last few to be part of either this gathering or at least some of the smaller gatherings that occur in between the larger group.

And what I want to do today with you briefly is kind of lay out the battlefield on which I’ve now been inserted as the chairman and give you some thoughts about that, and then as well, take whatever questions we can fit in in the time allocated to us. But to make sure I don’t forget to thank you, besides wishing you a happy birthday, thanks for what you do. You know, you all – I’m going to show a video here in a second. But one of the things that is remarkable about this video is that in it, I can’t tell – I can’t tell who’s in the active component, who’s in the National Guard, who’s in the reserves.

It wasn’t always possible to say that. And we all know that. And so, you know, the way we’ve grow together over the past 10 years is something that I find to be extraordinarily healthy for the nation. And as we go forward with the challenges that are very clear to us, we got to make sure that we don’t – we don’t lose that. So run the video, then I’ll put up a few slides – no PowerPoint. And then we’ll chat. Go ahead.

(Video plays.) (Applause.)

So that’s who we are, and it must be who we remain. And that’s our challenge isn’t it? Most of you in the room are – at some level, I think we can describe you as senior leaders. And I especially want to compliment the senior leaders of the Guard that I’ve deal with over the past few years – notably, of course, Craig McKinley and Ray Carpenter. But there’s – you know, I know all the TAGs are here, and I know that we’ve all got the same goal. And that is to provide what the nation needs. And we’ve got to make sure that as we go forward that we continue in close dialogue, collaboration and transparency and honesty. And I’ll come back to that theme – I’ll come back to that theme in a moment.

So I’m going to tell you a little bit about – you know, my focus area is how they link into what I think will be the basis on which our emerging strategy is adapted. And then we’ll open it up for questions.

Put up the first slide for me, if you would.

Some of you have seen this, but we never look – I can’t see this enough. I mean, this is the image I go to bed at night with. I’ve got an – well, I mean, actually I go to bed with an image of Deanie in mind, but – by the way, for those of you who aren’t married 35 years, note how quickly I pulled out of that – you know, I was – (laughter) – I was getting ready to crash and burn there. But I am – I am an adaptable leader, I suppose, so – (laughter) – but this image and one I’ll show you here in a moment is – are – they’re – I just carry them around. And you got to have your own image. In fact, at the end of that video there was one of a guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider. And another image I carry around is that tomb guard who will be at that tomb whatever the weather, whatever the conditions, and will not leave his post or her post. And that is something, I think, that, you know, we’ve kind of come to take for granted, but we must never truly take it for granted.

So the reason I like this slide is that it gets at the issue of trust. And you can see that I’ve captioned it “trust.” But why do I say that? And by the way, how many noncommissioned officers in the audience? Just show – give me a show of hands. Yeah, you probably hate this picture because the guy’s out of uniform. You know, he doesn’t have his eye protection on. His sleeves are rolled up – scarf around the neck. I got it. Just get over that for a second because I want to talk to – (laughter) – I want to talk to you about what you can pull out of this picture.

And what you can pull out of this picture is, by looking at this, he’s a squad leader. And if you look at his eyes, you get a sense for what’s going on in his life at that moment in time, which you couldn’t see, by the way, if he had sunglasses and eye-pro on. So that’s why I like the picture. But you can see those conflicting emotions, you know, courage and fear all together at once; confidence and uncertainty, all together at once. And that’s who we are as a force when we ask these young men and women to do what we ask them to do – active, Guard or Reserve.

And in this particular case, the reason I like this is that it shows trust. Trust is not abstract in his life. It’s real. He’s got a rifleman to his right flank and he – that squad leader couldn’t do what he is doing unless that man was to his flank and that he had confidence that that soldier would be protecting him as he went about doing what he had to do and vice versa. The rifleman couldn’t do what he has to do unless he had a trust – a level of trust in that squad leader. The other thing is the squad leader’s calling for something on the radio.

And as some of you have heard me say, it – you know, it could be a medevac, it could be close air support, it could be additional ISR Predator coverage, indirect fire. Whatever it is though, he’s going to get it. And that’s what marks us as a military. If you need it – and if we’re going to put you in harm’s way and you need something, you’re going to get it. And I’d venture to say we’re probably the only military on the face of the planet that can say that with such certainty. And as we go forward, we just got to maintain that.

The other thing of course is I hope you can see that he’s wearing a wedding band. It’s kind of prominent in the picture. And that got to – that’s got to remind us that that bond of trust has to exist, not only from higher to lower and laterally, but it’s got to run all the way back to our homes – to hometown America, where we take care of the families, wounded warriors, gold-star families, veterans. We’ve got to be able to maintain that bond. It’s what marks us as a profession, and we got to keep at it.

Now, under that picture you can see my four focus areas. And I’ll talk about them in just a moment. But go to the next slide because here’s the other image that I just started carrying around with me, because last week in Alaska I met an Air Force, National Guard parajumper by the name of Roger Sparks – Master Sergeant Roger Sparks, parajumper. And during his tour of duty in Afghanistan, he suspended himself off of a cable, just like the cable that’s suspended off of this aircraft, and he rescued off of the side of a mountain about the size of Pike’s Peak in the Hindu Kush and RC Northeast.

He saved about – or pulled about 12 soldiers from the 101st off of that precarious position where they were under attack. And he did so, repeatedly lowering himself out of that helicopter in a hail of machine gun fire. In fact, as he tells the story, the cable on which he was suspended was actually struck several times by the machine gun fire. Now, you know, I ask myself all the time, as I’m sure you do, why do they do what we ask them to do? Why do young men and women do that? What would possess you to lower yourself on a cable from a helicopter into a hail of machine gun fire?

And the answer is we don’t really know for sure, but we do know this. They darn sure don’t do it for themselves. And we got to remember that we ask these kids to put themselves in that kind of a precarious position. And if you think about what we owe them as a result, it should make our way forward pretty darn clear. And remember, I said, that was an Air National Guardsman from Alaska putting active-duty soldiers from the 101st off the side of a mountain. That’s it. You know, that’s joint force; it’s 2020; it’s all components; it’s pulling on the same, you know, oars to keep this little rowboat of ours moving in the right direction.

So let me talk to you briefly about the four objectives. So you see the first objective there is to achieve our objectives in the fights in which we find ourselves. Well, of course we will. And you know, we’re working both with our Iraqi – and we can talk about this if you’d like, but we’re working with our Iraqi counterparts on the one hand to define that relationship differently. We’re working with our Afghan counterparts to define that relationship as it evolves over time. And I think we’re going to be fine.

And I think that we have opened up enormous windows of opportunity in both places. And in some cases, the opportunity will be seized as we would like it to be seized. And in some cases it won’t be seized exactly as we think it should be seized. But we can – we can walk our way forward in this, and we can darn sure do so with our heads held high about what we’ve done in those two places – so more about that.

Joint Force 2020 – it has been my view and remains my view that we’ve got the kind of near-term budget challenges, but we really need to keep them in the context of something longer range. In other words, you know, we’re going to get a budget for 2012 and a POM [Program Objective Memorandum] for [2013-2017]. But we got to make sure we’re clear about what we’re building toward, so that this doesn’t become just simply a series of budget exercises. And we are.

We’ve got a lot of work done already on looking at how our QDR [Quadrennial Defense Review] strategy might be adapted, should be adapted. You know, I say to people – and I really believe this. I’m not – you know, this isn’t me rationalizing my existence. I tell people, even if we had all the money we wanted – you know, if we could, you know, just throw a bill across the transom to the Congress of the United States and say, we need this much money, and they gave it to us, we’d still want to change.

I mean, if we haven’t learned anything over the last 10 years, then truly our sacrifices have not been – we have not taken advantage of our sacrifices. So we’ve learned a lot over the last 10 years. I mean a lot. And what we need to do now is adapt our force in the context of what we’ve learned, and regardless of how much money we need, we need to change. We’re a learning organization and we need to adapt to the – to the future security challenges. And that’s why we need to think about 2020.

I’ll just give you one small example of that. Ten years ago, we didn’t – while we had a special mission force, we had a Joint Special Operations Command, we had a special operations community of a certain size, it’s four times bigger than it was 10 years ago. And it’s exponentially more capable. So that’s a change. And what are we – you know, what are we going to do to adapt ourselves to the reality of a different kind – a much better capability in our special operations community?

The other thing is 10 years ago we weren’t working in the cyberdomain or the cyberarena. You know, we get hung up on the vocabulary sometimes. But the point is, 10 years ago, we were not – we didn’t have this thing called cyber as one of our war fighting functions that can be integrated with other things in order to make us more capable. And we do today. We’re not there yet in figuring out what it means. But it just should give you an idea that as we look to 2020, this isn’t about taking what we’ve got and just holding onto it doggedly, maybe making it a little smaller.

This is about adapting and changing that – those structures, changing our leader development paradigms, changing the way we integrate things, changing relationships so that in 2020 we have a pretty clear view of what we need to provide the nation and how many options we need to provide the nation. So we got to jump beyond the budget fights and get to that point. And you know, we’re – it’s not easy to look beyond the current budget fight. But we’re making some progress in that regard.

I heard a great quote the other day. It was – I was actually at a civilian leader development conference. And they were talking about big organizations versus small organizations. And they said small organizations – this is business thing – but small organizations attack. And big organizations defend. And what they – what – the idea was that when you’re a small organization and you want to – you know, you’re trying to – you know, you’re trying to grab control of a piece of the market or you’re trying to increase your – you know, your bottom line, you’re on the attack.

You’re creative, you’re looking for ways to do things differently, you’re looking for ways to knit things together, you’re looking for ways to partner with other organizations to improve yourself. And when you’re a big organization, you say, oh, boy, I’ve arrived. Now I got to hold on tight.

We can’t be that organization. We can’t be the big organization that stays on the defensive and tries to doggedly protect who we are.

Are there parts of it we want to protect? Of course there are. We’re a values-based organization. We’re a profession. We’re committed to long-term leader development. You know, you know the drill. But there’s other parts of our – of who we are that should be adapted to this emerging threat scenario and to a new fiscal environment. And we’re going to have to work with each other to get there.

The third one of course is the commitment to ourselves as a profession. And when I say profession, I actually speak inclusively, not exclusively. I think that we’re a profession and that every solider, airman, sailor, Marine, when they – Coast Guardsman, when they raise their right hand they become part of the profession and are expected to contribute to it. Noncommissioned officers take some ownership of it. The officer corps certainly has ownership in it. And I as well include civilians in that. So we’re all in this thing called the profession of arms. And we all have a role to play in ensuring that it is the profession that not only we think it should be but that the nation deserves.

And then the last one there is this idea of military family. And I do mean military family – notice I didn’t put the plural families because that kind of narrows the focus a bit. I’m talking about a military family that includes – again, it’s those serving, it’s those that are now veterans, the retired, the wounded, gold-star families. It’s a broad brush, but it’s one that you’ll see in a minute, because I’m going to show you another graphic here, that we are accountable for. And we can’t forget that as we go forward.

OK. Turn that slide off for a second and let me talk to you about the emerging strategy in the most – this is the – I know none of you when you were in college in English class ever thought to use CliffsNotes. You know, if you were given like a reading assignment, you know, Shakespeare or something, I know that none of you ever used the CliffsNotes. No, turn that off for a second.

So I’m going to give you the CliffsNotes version of the – of where we are with the strategy. Our strategy adaptation, it seems to me, will turn on about four issues – maybe five. I’ll see how many I remember. I am 59 years old, and you’re 375. So between the two of us, we might remember what I’m trying to say here.

On about five things – first thing – two wars or something less than two wars – for me, right now, the answer is, we’re never going to try to build a force that’s only capable of doing one thing at a time. That’d be silly, it would be ill-advised, and we wouldn’t be doing the nation any favors. So we got to figure out how we build a force and articulate its capabilities against more than one thing. We’re not there yet but we’re working on it. So this is – so issue one is are we going to continue to talk about a two-war strategy, or will it be something else? OK.

The second thing is geographic focus – geographic priorities. You know, we’ve been focused, and we’ve prioritized the Mideast. There’s every reason to believe that the next decade will see, you know, demographic shifts, economic shifts, military shifts into the Pacific, not to the exclusion of everything else, because again, you can’t just – we are who we are. We’re a global power. You just can’t say, ah, I think I’ll – you know, I think I like the people in the Pacific. You know, they got really cool drinks with umbrellas. So we’re going to focus on the Pacific.

We are going to focus on the Pacific, I believe. We’re not there yet. But that’s another one of those issues on which our strategy will shift, will adapt. It’s geographic focus, how do you prioritize; and then how do you make sure that across the world we can continue to exert the kind of influence that we need to; and maintain our access to resources, lines of communication and so forth.

The third thing is a – what the – what some are calling reversibility. But let me describe it differently, meaning if you get it wrong, how do you reverse-field and get it right. I think that what we’re really talking about here is fundamentally redefining our relationship among active, Guard and Reserve. I really believe that. I believed it when I was the chief, for a whole 149 days, and I believe it today.

This strategy will cause us to reconsider – well, to re-examine, reconsider and rearticulate, and then resource our relationship among the active, the Guard and Reserve components. It has to, because, you know, you keep us connected to America. I mean, we all – we try to all of us keep ourselves connected to America. But certainly you’re a prominent part of that. And secondly, you are that part of the force, which allows us to take some risk in other parts of the force in the event we might get it wrong. And as many speakers have probably said, we have an uncanny track record on getting things wrong. So the third thing on which our new strategy will reside or rest will, I think, be this relationship among active, Guard and Reserve.

The third thing – the fourth – I told you I’d screw that up. The fourth thing is the relationship between the general purposes forces and special operating forces. You know, up till now, those two issues have been kind of distinct, separate. You know, if you needed this kind of work done, you reached over into that pot. And if you need this kind of work done, you reach over into that pot.

And what have we seen over the last10 years? We – in my view, in my experience in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, we’ve seen kind of a merging of those capabilities to the great benefit of our mission and to the great benefit of national security. So now the question becomes, how do we document, validate and, again, resource the integration of general operating forces and special operating forces.

And then the final one is this issue of cyber. What is the relationship among the conventional military, the special operations community and cyber? Because right now, again, it’s being seen as kind of a one-off, additive capability. And it’s not. All these things need to be integrated so that we can produce, for the nation, a menu of option that is based on the integration of all those relationships.

That what it is. We got to figure out how to change the nature of our relationships to provide the nation the military it’s going to need in 2020, all of which is being done – let’s face it – in a new fiscal environment. And we know that. And we’ll figure it out. And it’s not the first time we’ve been down this road. We’ve traditionally gone through periods of expansion and contraction and – but we just got to figure it out. And we got to do so in a way that keeps us united and maintains that bond of trust both internally and externally with the nation.

We’re entering another political season. The Department of Defense has some very clear guidelines on what is and is not appropriate to occur on military installations and to occur with military personnel. The DOD reg – I reviewed it last week – is actually very good. They’re not all that good. This one is actually pretty darn good. And so you need to review it because – look, again, we are not a special interest group and we are that institution in America that must remain apolitical. And I just wanted to – I’m not reminding you uniquely; I’m reminding all of us at every opportunity that that’s what the nation expects, and that’s what the nation deserves.

OK. Now, in that context, I wanted to talk to you about one other thing before I take a question, because I know it’s on your mind, and I’m going to pre-empt actually the two questions you’re going to ask me. The first one is about retirement – I’ll wait until you ask me that one. The second one is about whether the chief of the National Guard should be a member of the JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff]. So – (applause) – well, you better wait ‘till you hear what I say.

This is about – I’m going to go testify on Thursday before a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting on this topic, and I wanted to tell you where I am before you see it on CNN, OK, because I owe you that. And this is about trust and it’s about transparency. And I’ll tell you that I’m not going to recommend that. But you need to know why.

I’m not going to recommend it for two reasons in particular. One is what we just talked about. I, having been a service chief, believe that only one person can be in charge of the brand. What we’re talking about on those slides is, what is our brand? What – who are we as soldiers, Army; sailors, Navy; airmen; Air Force; Marines, Marines? And that person who is accountable for that institution across the components, in my view, should be the service chief.

And the second reason I believe that is that he has the budget. Look, let me tell you. First of all, you know that as the chairman, I have almost no authority. I’m not complaining, really. But I’m – but truthfully, I can’t move people around. I don’t have a budget. I mean, I have a little tiny budget. You know, my role is to try to gain some insights from the chiefs and then to advice the President, the Sec. Def. [Secretary of Defense], the National Security Adviser. But fundamentally, I don’t have any real authority except insofar as I can have a better case to make. If I can – if I can explain things, if I can understand context, if I can understand the effect on both the mission and the institution, then I’m persuasive. But fundamentally, a service chief has much more than that. The service chief has an obligation, with his service secretary, to organize, train and equip the force using the resources given to him by the Congress of the United States.

And I love General McKinley, but he doesn’t have a budget. Now, could he at some point? I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy, actually. But he could. I mean, that could be a change that could follow a series of changes. But I wanted you to know, this is nothing about my esteem, my affection for the National Guard; it’s what I believe about the force and what makes us who we are. And we – you know, we are truly one force today in a way that we weren’t in the ’90s, but I wanted you to hear that from me today and not hear it from it – not to hear it on CNN. You’ll probably also hear it on CNN, but I wanted you to hear that from me today and let you know what my recommendation will be.

But you know, at the end of the day, when the Congress of the United States passes a law, we have the uncanny ability to follow it. So that’s where I am today; you needed to hear that from me and not from somebody else. All right. (Applause.)

Now, who wants to ask the first question or the second or third or fourth? And I think there’s microphones at the base – yeah, there you go. Yes, sir.

Q: Sir, Mike Dubie, TAG [The Adjutant General] from Vermont. I want to thank you for being here. I thank you for your leadership.

You mentioned early on about the force mix. Fundamentally, we’ll have to look at the force mix. Could you just give us [your] thoughts? And most of us believe it’d be time to return more to the militia nation, but I’d like to hear your thoughts of what that force may – (inaudible, cross talk).

GEN. DEMPSEY: (Chuckles.) Yeah. I wish you hadn’t used the word – the “militia nation” analogy, but, you know. He says, time – when I think militia, I think of, like – I almost said a state, and I know that would not have gone well. (Laughter.) Boy, that’s twice now today I pulled out of a death spiral.

But there are some states out there that, you know, you – you know. Anyway – (laughter.) Toss my water, would you? (Laughter.) Thanks.

So, you know, I do think – I do think we’re going to end up relying more on the – on the – let’s call it the National Guard, not the militia. But we’re going to – we’re going to end up relying more on the National Guard. But here’s my – and Reserve, by the way. But here’s what I really need from you in that regard: honest, realistic expressions of capability.

Now, look. You know, this – I’ve been on both sides of this, meaning I’ve been in the Army; I’ve been on the joint side. So when you all – when we have this conversation about what has to be available immediately – and that’s how you define the active component – and then what can – what do we need available let’s say in 30 days and what can we wait six months for, we’ve got to be really, really honest with each other about what we can generate over those discrete periods of time, because there have been times when, frankly, in my view, we’ve over – we’ve kind of overpromised and underdelivered. We have. Where do we need to be now? We need to underpromise and overdeliver, because if we’re going to take some risk – and I say risk; it’s not the risk that you can do the job; it’s the risk of, will I resource you to be prepared to do the job on the timelines we establish? And look, I’ll use a Bayonne New Jersey-ism here. We – in this effort, we can’t bullshit each other. We have got to really, really, you know, neck this down and decide what we can do tonight, 30 days from now and six months from now. And if we do that, I think we’ll be OK. Thanks.

Q: Yes, sir. Colonel Harold Reed out of Wyoming. And I agree with, you know, we need to change the way we do business, train the way we’re going to fight. I think the Air Force has done a lot of associations – active associates, Guard associates, Reserve associates. Do you think the other services need to do further? Or what’s your vision as far as the associations – (inaudible) – on a day-to-day basis?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I – you know, let – just don’t leave the mic. Let me make sure I – when you say associations, you know, I think of, you know, the Association of the United States Army, the Navy League – I don’t think that’s what you mean.

Q: No, sir.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. Give me – give me a different vocabulary.

Q: OK. In Cheyenne, Wyoming, we got 200 active-duty kids flying our airplanes and we’re working together day to day, we learn each other and – classic associates and those type of associations.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I – that’s – when I was trying to talk about relationships and integration of components, that’s what I was talking about.

Yeah, I mean, look. I mean, I said that the – if you remember, the fifth new relationship I – I’ll just use an example – the fifth of the new relationships that I described is – are – is the relationship with cyber and everything else – because I think cyber is that important and prominent as we go forward. I have no idea yet what your role or the Army Guard’s or anybody’s role is yet in that world. But I do think – I mean, how – I mean, how powerful would it be if someone were, you know, working for Google, you know, 300 days a year, and the Air Force Guard 65 days a year? I’m making that up. I mean, wouldn’t that be another way to look at the relationship and how we would maintain our currency into the – into the civilian high-tech industry which is a little faster than we are right now?

So I absolutely agree with you, and I think – I think we have broken down some of those barriers in all services. But I think, as we go forward, that’s – that’s about figuring out – again, what has to be ready right now? What can be ready in 30 days? What can be ready in six months?

Q: Yes, sir.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Thanks. OK, that’s two Air Force guys. Who’s this, now? We got an Army guy coming up. Yeah.

Q: Sir, Brigadier General Corey Carr, Indiana.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Good to see you.

Q: Sir, a follow-up to General Dubie’s question. The parajumper that you referred to has honed his capability and become the professional by being involved in the war fight. So what do you see as the future of the National Guard as an operational force, and specifically brigade combat teams in full spectrum operations?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, no, that’s – that’s a – that’s a – that’s the right question, really. And I’ll tell you where I was as the Army chief. I’m not there – I don’t have a clear view yet as the chairman. Let me share with you the view I had a few months ago as the – as the chief.

You know, we have this thing called ARFORGEN [Army Force Generation], which is a rotational readiness cycle, and it always occurred to me that what we would want to provide the nation was a pool, you know – and you know the cycle goes from reset to train ready to available. And available is the one – you know, the available pool is the one we really, you know, focus on because that’s what’s ready to go. I always thought that whenever we decided – again, for 2010 – what we wanted in that available pool, if should include both active component BCTs [Brigade Combat Teams], Guard BCTs and Reserve enablers. And we ought to articulate the relationship that way going forward, and we would have to resource that way going forward. And I think that’s where we’re going to come out on this, you know.

So I don’t know what the – and the final numbers will be in terms of BCTs, but my view would be, there would always be, in that available pool, you know, BCTs number X that, in the aggregate, with the active component BCTs, provide the nation what it needs in the available pool. And I – I think that’s exactly where General Odierno is as well. I mean, he was here talking to you. And I’m pretty confident that that’s one of the things we carried over together.

Now, I don’t have – but see, this goes back to how many BCTs. And that means active and Guard. And it goes back to what – you know, we haven’t heard enough yet about what you think you need to be in 2020 given these new relationships. So, you know, what is there a different role for parts of the Guard that maybe heretofore were heavy brigade combat teams – maybe they’re something else in 2020.

And I’m making this up, but, you know, how many HBCTs [Heavy Brigade Combat Teams] do you think you need in 2020? Negotiating that with the Army. The Army then negotiating it into the joint force for 2020. And, you know, if we have that kind of conversation, I think we’ll be fine. But if – but back to my point, if all we go is say, I just – I’m happy with who I am, I just want to – you know, just – go talk to somebody else, for Christ’s sakes, you’re making me nervous, then we’re going to be that big company that’s on the defensive instead of the little company – we’re having aspects of being little that’s always kind of clawing to get it better, all right? Thank you. OK, it’s 3 to 1, now. Go ahead.

Q: Sir, Brigadier General Steve Cray, Vermont. You – in Iraq, you had a hand in identifying or helping define what was Iraq-good to the American people. How will you, as chairman, help define what is Afghan-good to the American people?

GEN. DEMPSEY: No, I mean, that’s – yeah, and – you know, sometimes, when you – I did use that phrase in Iraq and I – you know, I kind of got whacked about a little bit on it, you know – that idea of what’s good enough.

But, you know, again, that was my Bayonne upbringing. I kind of wanted to understand what was feasible, really. That’s probably the doctrinal term: what’s feasible, what’s acceptable. By the way, our doctrine is actually – if you use our doctrinal terms, you generally stay, you know, above it all, and we do have doctrinal terms that suggest that plans have to be feasible and acceptable – feasible in the sense that you can – you know, you can – you can achieve the goals established with available resources, and that they – and at acceptable risk.

So I think we’ve – I think we’ve gone through a pretty healthy process with Iraq. There – and if – you know, if you think of the – you know, if we – I’m making these numbers up, but if there were 10 things, 10 functions, 10 issues, 10 objectives that we wanted to accomplish in Iraq, you know, I think we achieved all of them at some level, some of them at a lower level than we probably would have anticipated. And we’re building toward a normal relationship with them, much like the relationship that I managed when I was in other parts of the Mideast doing other kind of job.

So I think we’ve achieved what I described in Iraq, and we’re not there yet in Afghanistan. We’ve got to understand – there’s – and there’s a – there’s huge differences, as you all know. You – I’m sure – give me a show of hands. How many of you have deployed to either Iraq or Afghanistan?

By the way, that’s sort of telling. I mean, you know, 75 percent of the room, and the 25 percent are spouses, probably.

So Afghanistan has every bit as many tribal geographic religious challenges, and then you throw in a very weak economy and it makes it a much different challenge. And so we’re not there yet on seeing our way clear on that, but that’s exactly what we’re working on, and it’s good, honest, I’ll tell you that.

What else? One more. Well, you tried to even it out, but you’re going to come up one short. It’s 3 to 2.

Q: Sir. Tim Reisch, general of South Dakota. We’ve heard numbers, 450 billion [dollars], 882 billion [dollars], 1.2 trillion [dollars] as possible cuts over the next 10 years. You mentioned the fact that we’re probably still going to relied upon to fight two different wars at the same time, and I think we can all agree that a starting point would be, what are we going to be required to do, not starting at, how much are we going to have to cut?

My question, sir, is, is there going to be time in between knowing that, here’s the requirement of what we’re expected to do, and then we’ll find out what the cut’s going to be – is there going to be sufficient time, sir, to make that call?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I think there is. But here is why I believe that. I – you know, I taught English at West Point, right? Maybe you didn’t know that. Maybe you just knew I was a Renaissance man. But I taught English. (Laughter.) I taught English at West Point and gained a very realistic opinion about what an undergraduate is or is not willing to do. So if I gave them a term paper – and you had these yourself. Remember the term “term paper?” The implication was, you’d work on it over the course of the “term” and you’d kind of make it better along the way, and then you’d turn it in and it’s actually pretty good. And that’s – that was the theory, anyway. And the practice was what? Holy crap, I got a paper due tomorrow. (Laughter.)

That’s kind of the way I feel about these kind of things, to tell you the truth. If we had six months, we would fill the available time with staffs and studies and organizations and boards, and we’d come out about the same place we’re probably going to come out, or we can hold ourselves to a very tight timeline and hope to influence the 13-17 [fiscal year 2013-2017] budget. And probably, because of the urgency of it, it’ll get more senior people involved sooner, and I think we’ll be fine.

So I’m actually an advocate or where we are in this process, and I think the president’s given us a great opportunity. We’ve had several meetings with him on strategy. I don’t know when the last time I’m going to – you know, obviously, I’m 45 days in the job, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I can tell you that they’ve been kind of remarkable sessions in trying to decide what the nation needs. And at a – at a – and the Sec. Def. last week spent a full day – I mean, he left to go to the – I’m going to use a joint term – head, every once in a while, but he spent the entire day with us talking about the different threats we face, the different regional challenges, how we might address them, what are the strategic choices, what are the risks – remarkable, really. And by the way, if we had six months to do that, he probably wouldn’t have spent an entire day with us.

And so the short answer is, I think we got a lot to be optimistic about in terms of gaining a common understanding of our challenges. The budget thing, you know, is going to be – is going to be a – it’s going to be difficult, you know. If it wasn’t difficult, we should ask ourselves, did we really need all that money? So if it turns out to be not difficult, I’m actually not OK with that because it means we haven’t been good stewards of resources. It is going to be difficult. I know that; you know that.

And – but I think – you know, back to this thing on the slide, we have to understand the challenges the nation is facing, not just our own individual piece of it, and if we’re seen in the – at the end of this, if we’re seen as having done what was right and lived up to our responsibility in the – in the Preamble, anyway, to – you know, to provide for the common defense – that is the – you know, that’s the prima inter pares, it’s the “first among equals” of responsibilities – so it’s provide for the common defense. As long as we can look ourselves in the mirror together and say, we can do that, at the same time absorbing some of the challenges, the economic challenge the nation is faced with, then we won’t be seen as just another special interest group. And at the end of the day, we’ll still maintain that bond of trust with the American people. That’s the goal.

Let me end where I began. Thanks for what you do. Deanie and I are constantly in awe – and, you know, by the way, the – I’m an active component guy, obviously. But I say this without pandering or in any way trying to endear myself to you. Your challenge is a heck of a – you know, I grew up, you know, seven days a week, 365 days a year kind of focused on the same thing, and pretty much everybody that I was in control of, you know, I could look around and I could see them, you know, or they lived near where I lived. And I know what you do. I mean, I know that, you know, we can get a brigade, get a sustainment brigade or something spinning up to go to Iraq and Afghanistan, and you might be pulling soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines from 13, 14, 15 states with all of the complexity that that involved. So I have an enormous, enormous respect for what you do.

And I promise you this: You’ll never have to wonder about what I’m saying, what I’m – even what I’m thinking. Sometimes I wonder what I’m thinking. (Laughter.) But you’ll never have to worry about or wonder what I’m thinking because I owe you that and you can count on it. Thanks very much. (Applause.)

GEN. MCKINLEY: Thanks, Chairman. We appreciate it. Have you got a second?


GEN. MCKINLEY: You know Ray. Bill Etter is our deputy director of the Air Guard.

Everybody sit down just for a second, if I could just address the chairman’s comments. Number one, since he became the chairman, he has completely integrated me into all the inner workings of the tank and the processes by which the building make decisions. And I know that our building is built or personalities, but that’s a first, and Chairman, I got to tell you, I appreciate it. I [can] give voice to 460,000 people, which I think our former chiefs and every one of the living ones is in that front row right there.

GEN. DEMPSEY: They’re all living? That’s good. (Laughter.)

GEN. MCKINLEY: They’re all living. Some might dispute that, but – General Conway, I don’t know.

GEN. DEMPSEY: (Inaudible) – is like Waking Ned Devine or something.

GEN. MCKINLEY: That’s right. That’s right.

But that’s really what 2008 brought to the National Guard. It gave a chief the opportunity to speak to the chairman and to the secretary of defense and give his best military advice on matters of domestic concern, and then to follow closely what the chiefs of staff of the Air Force and the army think our services should do to fully integrate into the force that we love to be part of.

So I appreciate your comments. I appreciate your trust. I appreciate your inclusivity so that Cheryl and I can give voice to the spouses, the families and all the members of our team because that’s what this is all about. And I think everybody here got that feeling that I’ve had as the 18th chairman, formerly the 37th chief of staff of the Army. And you’ll have to explain why you like to use those numbers, but you like to be called 18 or 37.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I will tell you. It’s the same reason I don’t – I don’t wear all my ribbons. And I like to remember that I’m the 18th chairman so that I don’t wake up in the morning and say, oh my god, how am I ever going to figure all this out? This is about continuity of our profession, so I remind myself, when I was the chief, that there were 36 others that came before me. And one guy doesn’t have to figure all this out any more than one guy or gal has to figure out what I’m doing now. And I only wear – I chose two rows of ribbons because it isn’t about what I’ve done in the past that now is important; it’s what I’m going to do in the future. So I’ve got one row of army ribbons, one row of joint ribbons, and have no expectation or desire to win anymore; I just want to do what’s right.

GEN. MCKINLEY: Yes, sir. And, of course – (applause). Well done, well said.

I have always, as three of chiefs, that I’m the 26th chief of the National Guard Bureau, and so I am honoring these gentlemen down here by saying that they went before me and blazed a trail, and I appreciate all that.

He is a Renaissance man because when I saw him at the military children’s educational coalition, he ended by singing an Irish song.


GEN. MCKINLEY: And I – your staff said, don’t get him to do that today, so I won’t. But we’ll bring him back to sing with us because he’s got a great voice. And I know you’re happy because the Giants won last night.

GEN. DEMPSEY: That’s right.

GEN. MCKINLEY: Yesterday. That’s what Pete Edward (sp) said.



GEN. DEMPSEY: (Chuckles.)

GEN. MCKINLEY: But our Yankees didn’t do so well.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, and we – and we took a W – and we took an L on Saturday too – (inaudible).


Yeah, well, but, you know, you and I are agnostic about that.

GEN. DEMPSEY: No, I’m neutral but unhappy.

GEN. MCKINLEY: Neutral but unhappy. (Laughter.) So just because the Air Force academy played Army at 7,000 feet of elevation, that really wasn’t very fair, was it?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, well. (Laughter.) They played great.

GEN. MCKINLEY: But anyway, Ray works with your team – former team in the Army exceedingly well. Ray Odierno came to speak to us yesterday. And Bill Etter, along with Bud Wyatt, who’s [the] husband of Nancy out there, is at the (inaudible) right now working about the issues that will take us into the future. But we wanted to, on behalf of all the folks who were here, present you with our 375th anniversary crystal. So maybe Deanie, this will find a place someday in the Archives.

GEN. DEMPSEY: It’s got a shot.

GEN. MCKINLEY: Yeah. And I know your eyed the minutemen as we walked by there. Someday there’ll be a minuteman. You probably already got a minuteman.

GEN. DEMPSEY: I don’t, but I don’t want – I don’t want you to give it to me until I earn it.

GEN. MCKINLEY: OK. OK. But I’m going to give you a coin with one of them on there. And we thank you, chairman number 18, for all you do for all the military. Thank you for being with us.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Thanks … thanks.


GEN. DEMPSEY: Thanks, Craig. God bless you. Thanks. Thanks. Thank you all. (Applause.)