ANNOUNCER: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the chairman of the board for the Air Force Association, Sandy Schlitt. (Applause.)
SANDY SCHLITT: Great day, great day. There will be Q-and-A, so the folks going through the aisles, we’re going to give you plenty of time for Q-and-A if you have the questions.
Our next speaker serves as the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Our nation’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, as most know, is a body of senior uniform leaders in the U.S. Department of Defense who advise the secretary, the Homeland Security Council, the National Security Council and the president on military matters. By law, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is the nation’s highest-ranking military officer.
The title of his topic, his talk, is “Building the Joint Force 2020,” very appropriate, as you heard from Dr. Carter. Each of you should have a copy of the speaker’s bio. We are very pleased and honored to have him speak with us this year. So sir, the podium is yours. General Dempsey. (Applause.)
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Thanks. Thanks very much. Well, I’m glad you gave me the podium. I’m not going to – I hope I don’t use it that much, actually, because what I’d like to do is have a conversation with you more than a – more than a lecture or a briefing or a set of prepared talks. I do have some points I want to make, naturally, and I’m really honored to be here with you celebrating your birthday, the birthday of DOD and the birthday of the CIA. What a combination.
We will have Q-and-A, or at least you’ll have Q. I’m not sure I’ll sign up for the A. We’ll see – we’ll see what the Q is, and then I’ll decide whether I want to get into the A – (laughter) – but you know how that goes.
Tell you a little joke to set the stage here a bit. There were three servicemen that passed away. One was a sailor, one was an airman, and one was a soldier. And they passed away suddenly, precipitously, all at the same time. [It] Shocked them actually, as it would. When they went up to heaven, they were met by St. Peter at the pearly gates, and they were all kind of aghast. They said, you know, that really happened a little bit suddenly for us. Is there any way we could reverse this? And St. Peter said, no, can’t do that.
But he said, what I can do is I can influence the way people think about you and your life. And so he said to the sailor, what is it, you know, as the people pass by your body laying in state, what do you want them to think? And the sailor said, well, I’d like to – I’d like them to think, wow, what a sailor; what a master and commander, the master of the seven seas. St. Peter said, OK, I can do that.
And he said to the airman, he said, what do you want – what do you want them to think about as they pass by you laying in state? And the airman said, I was an ace. I had the best, shiniest, most colorful scarf in the inventory. (Laughter.) Women crooned when I walked into the officers’ club, and I was a scratch golfer. (Laughter.) St. Peter said, actually, that’s pretty reasonable, so I can – I can do that.
Then he said to the soldier, he said, as they pass by you laying in state, what do you want them to do? And he said, I’d like them to look into the casket and say, look, he’s moving! (Laughter.)
So this is – this is about – the joke actually segues into my conversations, and that is about what’s important, and how do we figure out what’s important? And I think each of our services are going through a bit of that now. And it’s not the first time in our history. I think maybe that’d be the first and most important message to you, is that it’s not the first time in our history that we’ve been confronted by the kind of uncertainty, changes in geopolitical issues, changes in budget authority that has cost us – caused us to kind of look inside of ourselves and say, who are we? And what are we, and why are we, and what do we bring to the nation?
And on that basis, I’d like to have just a short conversation with you today. I’ve served in combat several times in my career, and at no time in my service in combat have I ever had to worry about the air, about being attacked from the air, being disadvantaged by anything in the aerial domain. And so for that, first and foremost, I want to say thank you. Thank you for doing what you’ve done through these many years to keep those of us on the ground safe, but more important, keeping your country safe. Immune from coercion is the way I describe it. That’s our job. Whatever service in which we happen to serve, we’ve got to keep the nation immune from coercion. And you do that in the aerial domain, you contribute to that in the cyber domain, and you certainly do that in the space domain. And that job will continue.
So in terms of things that you’ve done and things that you have to do, I would say to you that continuing to allow us to have that kind of freedom of action in the aerial domain certainly seems to me to be job one. In fact, in that regard, I think I probably have three pieces of advice for you as you have this conference, as you – as your new chief and his new team start to help us think through the future and this thing we call “Joint Force 2020.”
I think that the first thing you need to do is remember the words of your own Air Force hymn. I’m not going to sing the whole thing. I do know that I was sort of set up for it by Dr. Carter. (Laughter.) Nothing like fratricide in the five-sided building. But I would say to you that this line really does matter to me.
(Singing.) We live in fame or go down in flames, hey. Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force.
That’s about as good as it needs to be, actually. (Applause.) Whole bunch of choruses. There are a lot of great words, but those are the words that seems to me to matter. Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force.
So as you get ready to go through these challenges ahead, as you try to confront technological change, as you try to confront changes in our budget authority, you know, it – hang on to fundamentals. And the fundamentals for me is that you can’t let us put you in a position where you can be stopped, because if you’re stopped, we’re stopped and the nation is stopped. Job one: Nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force. You got to help us figure that out. And of course it’s got to be figured out in a context of a new fiscal environment and a very rapidly changing – very, very rapidly changing geostrategic environment.
In that regard, let me tell you what, as I have two other pieces of advice, but I’ll hold those for a moment. Let me tell you what I tend to be very proud about as I think about the Air Force. I’m proud of the other services too. I think maybe the Air Force has been certainly among the most adaptable parts of our national military instrument of power. Every service had – has made some adaptations, but I would suggest to you that yours seem to me, in my experience, to be most prominent, most visible, most important, perhaps.
The Army has changed. I was part of helping it change, I hope, from being this very exquisitely designed Cold War organization that was built on big organizations, and then we got into the last 10 years of conflict. We realized that the nature of conflict had changed. Things were more decentralized, more distributed. And we did; we were able to make some adaptations to adapt for that.
So did you. I mean, the expeditionary airmen program – airmen have been all in for the last 10 years, whether that was all in in the battlefield airmen program, JTACs – I don’t know what percentage, but you have significantly increased the number of JTACs that you provide to the force on the ground – combat controllers, parajumpers.
I had a – one of the images I carry around in my head is of a – of a parajumper hanging off of a cable in the Hindu Kush off of a Black Hawk helicopter. And I actually met Master Sergeant Roger Sparks up in Alaska, happens to be an Air National Guardsman, by the way. Big, tall kid. I mean, what the hell a 6-foot-8 kid would be doing as a parajumper kind of unsettled me a bit. I thought he was part of the Air Force, you know, Elmendorf basketball team when I first met him. (Laughter.)
About 6-foot-8 or so, and what he had done, I learned, was that he had rescued 12 soldiers from the Army’s 10th Mountain Division off of the side of a mountain in the Hindu Kush under fire, so he’s lowering himself 12 times on a – on a wire cable to pull his fellow servicemen off of the side of a mountain, four of whom died in his arms, the eight – the eight others of which he saved.
And I actually said to him – you know, I was looking up at him like I was looking up at Mount Olympus. I said, what – you know, what were you thinking about when you did that? And it won’t surprise you to know, he said, well, to tell you the truth, that’s not one of the times in your life you want to give it a lot of thought. (Laughter.) But he said – because as he lowered himself, his – the actual cable on which he was suspended was hit by gunfire three times. And he said, I – so I didn’t really think much about it, but I knew one thing: I had to get my fellow servicemen out of harm’s way.
You know, if we keep that spirit, that value, which I see reflected in your Airman’s Creed as well – if we can keep that together when we – as we go forward, I don’t think we’ll have – I really don’t think we’re going to have much trouble. It’s if we start to lose that, I think that we might cause ourselves to become concerned. But I’m not there yet. I don’t think you are either.
The second incredible transformation in your Air Force is ISR – intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, remotely piloted aircraft. But it’s not just the number – the way you’ve taken commercial, off-the-shelf technology, whether it’s MC-12 or other platforms, and turned them into the capabilities that we need. It’s also what you built under it to support it, which doesn’t get a lot of notoriety, by the way, but the PED – the ability to do the analysis, to do the exploitation, to do the dissemination. That’s all been done in the last 10 years, taking your Air Force that was built for a very different purpose and adapting.
And the question, of course, that I’ll pose later on here is, you know, kind of the “what’s next” of it all. I mentioned cyber; that’s kind of an obvious one. But I’ll also mention air drops. You know, who would have thought 10 years ago, as we began this kind of conflict, that we would have to kind of restore or rekindle our expertise and our ability to produce air drops in – over the battlefield? This never – it didn’t occur to me, frankly, until I realized that we were at great risk trying to push all of our supplies over road networks that were in some cases dominated by our enemy. And along comes the United States Air Force and shows us another way to do it. And those air drops, including the Joint Precision Airdrop System, have proved to be remarkably successful – and also saving lives. So there’s another adaptation.
And of course close air support response to troops in contact with incredible precision, on time, saving lives and allowing us, as I said, to conduct operations without worrying at all about whether we’ll be supported when we need it. It’s really – a really remarkable thing. Oh, yeah, and by the way, in the last 10 years, you erected the Air Force monument, making sure that it was sitting on Arlington Ridge and just slightly higher in elevation than the Marine Corps monument. (Laughter, applause.)
So you know, what’s the next sort of set of innovations I think you ought to be thinking about? Clearly cyber; we’ve all got to be thinking about cyber. It’s – it will be a game changer. Right now it’s kind of an adjunct. We – it’s a – it’s a – you know, a lesser but increasingly more important included function. I think it will be completely integrated into the way we do business in the future. Not sure what that means, but I hope we can get your help and figure it out.
I think space and our ability to have freedom of action in space – Bob Kehler speaks more eloquently and articulately about – than anyone about that. But I do think that space in the next 10 years will become both increasingly important, provide more opportunities and also expose some vulnerabilities that we have to get after.
Global strike – you’ve got it now; we’ve got it now. The question is how much more and how much better do we need to make it – and again, all in the context of a changing fiscal environment. Mobility – you know, I know – I know the – your chief of staff talked about kind of the enduring – or I think you called it, Mark, your fundamentals – you know, the nuclear enterprise, global strike, air superiority and mobility – I sign up for that as your core completely. Mobility’s the one thing that kind of sits out there that really nobody pays much attention to it, and – because it’s always there. It’s – you know, you get us where we need to be, when we need to be there.
And this recent flurry of activity in the Mideast, you know, to get FAST teams – Fleet Anti-terrorism Support Teams – and so forth positioned in and around embassies was a remarkable accomplishment. We – you know, so everybody kind of saw the end of the – of the mission, which is the arrival of these groups to protect our embassies. But you know, they didn’t fly there on their own. So that mobility – that mobility task is, I think, key.
Unmanned versus manned – I don’t know where that’s going. I’m sure that in the room, if I took a poll, the – we’d be somewhat equally split about whether we will – in 10 years we’ll end up with more manned or more unmanned platforms. I really don’t know. I suspect, though, that the percentage of the fleet that will be unmanned will increase; that’s kind of a safe bet. The question that you all have to answer and help us answer is what does that look like – what does it look like in the future? And finally, the AC/RC mix.
So let me – I’ll segue to the second piece of advice. The second piece of advice is that – just like nothing can stop the U.S. Air Force is kind of the goal, the second piece of advice I have for you is that that all happens through the development of your people. I really mean that; it’s not just a cliché, you know, people first. People’s what matter. People are our decisive edge. All – you know, we say it in different ways; we just got to make sure we mean it. And as we prepare our budgets in the future, we have to make sure we invest in it.
Let me quote a poem actually by Herman Melville, most famous for his book about maritime adventures, but a rather talented poet in his own right in the 19th century – in and around the Civil War, by the way. And he talked about the – what was called historically as the miracle at mission ridge – Missionary Ridge in Chattanooga. And the sequence of events were that Grant had given his instructions to the Union force to seize the first line of Confederate trench lines on Missionary Ridge and then to regroup; and once they were regrouped, to let him know, and then he would give instructions for the attack to continue.
Well, that’s not the way it happened. It’s not the way it played out. And by the way, we all know that nothing happens exactly the way we intend in a conflict. So the Union forces seized the first line of trenches. And then realizing that they had momentum, they didn’t pause to regroup; they just continued to charge up the hill. Eventually they seized the second line of trenches and the ridge line.
And in writing about it, Melville said this: “A kindling impulse seized the host / Inspired by heaven’s elastic air; / Their hearts outran their General’s plan, / Though Grant commanded there – / Grant, who without reserve can dare; / And ‘Well, go on and do your will,’ / He said, and measured the mountain then: / So master-riders fling the rein – / But you must know your men.” And you know, everything I study about history reminds me that it is this thing we’re now calling mission command, the ability of a commander to express his intent and then trust his subordinates to act on their initiative, that fundamentally is what gets us through these really difficult times in our history. I love the line, “Their hearts outran their General’s plan.”
So the key, I think, for us – all of us, not just the Air Force but all of us in uniform and those that support those in uniform – is to figure out how we kind of unleash this human capital that really is our decisive edge. And I think that’s my second piece of advice. As you go forward and try to address all these challenges in a new fiscal environment, we got to make sure that we keep developing the kind of men and women who we’re blessed to have in our service.
The third thing is, as I mentioned, we’re going to have a different AC/RC mix. I don’t know what it’s going to turn out to be. I know you don’t know what it’s going to turn out to be because I’ve seen – I’ve been – you know, I’ve seen that discussion. But it’s going to be different. That doesn’t mean it’s going to be better or worse. It will be, based on how we address it together. But I do think, as we address the future and the AC/RC mix, we got to – we have to address it as though we’re part of a family. We can’t let this issue polarize us.
Let me tell you a story about when I was in – when I was in Desert Storm, actually – no – yeah, Desert Storm back in ‘91. You remember, back in Desert Storm, we didn’t have mobile devices. So I wasn’t communicating with my family over an iPad or a smartphone; I was doing it the old-fashioned way. I was writing letters. They would get back to Germany, which is where my wife was. You know, three, four weeks later, she’d answer. You know, so three, four weeks later you’d get this – the return snail mail, paper – I know it’s so far into some of you youngsters in the crowd, but that is how we communicated. And as a result, sometimes, you know, we were doing this – because it’s not real-time; you know, there’s this three- or four-week lag.
But I remember one time she sent me a letter that did set me back a bit. She said, you know, I’m so miserable without you, it’s almost as though you’re right here. (Laughter.) Now, I assumed – I’m not making that up. (Laughter.) That was kind of a shock. And you can’t just pick up the phone and say, do you realized – you know, did you intentionally put those two thoughts together? And of course, thank God, she hadn’t. But it – but, you know, the point I want to make, and using the joke to get at it, is partnerships are hard, by the way.
And even inside of a family, you know the – how families can really get under – get on each other’s nerves, but at the end of the day, we are still part of a family. And in your case, it’s an Air Force family that is nested in and integrated with the joint family. And I know we’re going to argue with each other. In fact, I absolutely expect it and in some ways I welcome it because the open arguments are far better than the – you know, the kind of vicious compliance where you say yes but you really don’t mean it.
So look, let’s have those conversations. Let’s not – let’s keep them in the family. Let’s figure it out and let’s do what’s right for each of our services and for the nation and – so we don’t end up with, you know, I miss you so much. I’m so miserable without you. It’s almost like you’re actually here. We can figure that out. That’s, by the way, the third piece of my advice to you.
Let me – let me end with a thought about the future of the security situation the world. You know, there is – there are competing theories about whether – you know, the Friedman argument about globalization, economic interdependence and information technology will flatten the world and make us all in some ways so interconnected and dependent that the likelihood of conflict will go down. You know, and I respect the argument.
But then there’s the other argument that’s actually most articulately framed by a recent book by Robert Kaplan called “The Revenge of Geometry” – I’m sorry, there is “The Revenge of Geometry,” but he actually says “The Revenge of Geography.” And it’s actually kind of the opposite argument. What he says is that geography and the cultural impulses that are shaped by geography will actually have far more influence on the future security environment than anything technological. He says: Geography has not disappeared in the course of revolutions in communications and weaponry; it has simply gotten more valuable, more precious to more people.
And I – you know, I think we’ve got to figure out together which of those two kind of competing historical narratives is going to play out. I’m sure there’s – it’s neither/or. It’s probably something that combines those two – the reality of an environment that is more interconnected in real time, which has some stabilizing influence but which also has some significantly destabilizing influence and then the other one about the reality of geography, of tribe, of religion, of ethnicity, of sect and the competitions that have been historic, in some cases suppressed, and now released because of this. And what does that mean for us as a force?
The thought I have that – as I look at Joint Force 2020 – is that the military I grew up in was one that was trained as a primary emphasis on mass, and then had to learn over time how to disaggregate when necessary. I think – my instinct is telling me that the 21st century will be a period where we will be asked to apply our military instrument, decentralized, distributed and disaggregated, but never lose the ability to aggregate it when necessary. That’s going to be a really hard change for us to make, but I think it’s one we got to – we really a have to think about making.
And the other aspect of it, I think, Dr. Carter may have mentioned. The reality of changing the force is that you end up inheriting about 80 percent of what you’re going to have for five or six years because of the POM and because of programs and because of procurement timelines and leader development paradigms. We can somewhat abbreviate those things, but there’s some – there’s just some hard realities there that, you know, we might wail about, but it’s going to be a hard reality.
So we’ve got about 80 percent of what we have. I think we’ve got an opportunity to change about 20 percent. And in so – and in changing that 20 percent, make not only it better, but the other 80 percent right along with it. And I don’t have that all figured out yet. I hope you wouldn’t expect me to. But I think we can figure it out. And I think over the course of the next few years, we will figure it out, so that in 2020 we have a force that is able to address both of those historical, and in some ways predictive, analysis about a flat world and a world very much dominated by the realities of geography.
So with that, let me tell you how much I appreciate your attention and I hope your interest. You know, I can’t tell whether you’re interested or not. Doesn’t matter much to me actually; at some point I’ll figure it out I suppose. But I do appreciate the fact that you’re all here. And your presence here indicates to me that we really do want to figure this thing out together. And with that, I’d be happy to take your questions. (Applause.)
MR. SCHLITT: Thank you, sir. I’d like to get right into the – one of the issues that is one everybody’s minds, and that is the issues that are occurring with insider attack in Afghanistan and some changes we’ve made in partnering with ISAF in terms of training. Could tell us what’s actually happening, your thoughts on that issue?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, thanks. You know, one of the things we expect of our commanders at every level is to adapt. You know, I mentioned the term mission command, that is to say you provide to your subordinates the objectives and then you trust them to apply the means that they have to achieve those objectives, but with a full understanding that you’ll – they will change the way they apply those means over time. That’s kind of the philosophic argument I’m about to make.
But it does seem to me that the changes that have been made in Afghanistan are just that – they’re tactical changes in response to a changing threat and, by the way, to tensions that have been generated over the release of this video and other things that are inflaming the Muslim world, but they’re in no way an indication that we’ve change our campaign objectives. The campaign objectives that we’ve established are accurate. They are sound. They are prudent. And they are feasible. And they are achievable.
But it – but they don’t – we don’t get from here to there in straight line. We never do. Remember back in – some of you remember – in 2003-2004, the IED became prominent tactic on the battlefield in a way that it hadn’t been before. And so over time we adapted. We adapted our movement techniques. We adapted to electronic countermeasures. We adapted to the amount of armor envelope we provided on our vehicles. We adapted.
I mean, to suggest that we shouldn’t be adapting to the insider threat is kind analogous to me to say, OK, well, we got IEDs but let’s just keep driving down the road. Maybe at some point they’ll stop blowing them up. You know, I mean, this is about adapting. It’s not about changing the objectives, although somehow it’s being portrayed that way.
So what I’d like you to understand, we are deeply committed and resolved that we can achieve the objectives we’ve established in Afghanistan, principally on the military side: the preparation of the Afghan national security force to take control of their security by the end of ‘14. And we will. But along the way, we’ve got to adapt to the reality of conditions as we find them. So no loss of resolve on the objectives; trusting our subordinates to make good decisions with the resources available to both accomplish the mission and protect the force.
MR. SCHLITT: Sir, in regard to the latest issues in the Arab Spring, things that are going on in the Middle East right now and our pivot to the Pacific, do we – in a military sense, do we feel that we’re going to be slowing down our force structure? Do we need to do other things within the Middle East than we had planned?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, and that’s the right question, one that is the source of conversation among senior leaders even as we – even as we stand here. First of all, on the pivot, not a light switch – today we’re in Europe; tomorrow we’re not. Today we’re in the Mideast; tomorrow we’re not. That’s not the way – I don’t think the world will cooperate that – as much as we’d like it to in that regard.
So this is a long-term objective that was designed to allow us to think about the POM – the ‘13-’17 POM – and it did. And it’s now informing Dr. Carter’s work on the DMAG, the Defense Management Advisory Group – I think that’s what it’s called – to make decisions about allocation of resources and so forth, so that over the course of time we will begin to rebalance our efforts, both intellectually and materially, to the Pacific.
In the meantime, you’re right. We’ve got some significant challenges that are confronting us in the Mideast. And my view of those, by the way, is that we better understand them before try to seek solutions to them. You know, you remember Eisenhower – not Eisenhower – Einstein – another E-E guy.
Einstein said, if I have an hour to save the world, I’ll spend 55 minutes understanding the problem and then five minutes solving it. I feel like we’re still in that first 55 minutes. We need to figure out where this thing is all going and then, and only then, should we be engaged in trying to help solve it – but we will help solve it, with other partners, regional partners, bilaterally through the standing security structures such as NATO and our partnerships with the GCC, and we will. But those questions are still being assessed.
MR. SCHLITT: I’ve got a question that relates to basing in the Pacific, going back to the pivot of Pacific. So this one sort of deals with Australia. Will we have more places where we have smaller numbers of troops spread throughout the region?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, I think the answer to that is probably yes, but I wouldn’t have put it into the same sentence with the word “basing.” You know, basing has implications in terms of permanence, in terms of investment, that I’m not sure we’re ready to make.
I think the investment we’re ready to make is an investment in the idea that we need more presence in the region, but my instinct today as we have this conversation is that that presence would be best served in a rotational, exercise-based paradigm, rather than planting a flag, and as soon as you do, then, you know, becoming encumbered in some way by all the things that that brings with it.
So my – you know, my assessment at this point is that the – our presence will certainly increase in the Pacific, I think it will increase in small – smaller organizations, rather than larger organizations, and that it will be largely rotational, and in so doing, both help develop our leaders – because there’s a huge benefit to leader development in rotational engagements – but also, I think, will allow us to partner in ways that are acceptable to those in the region without signing up for a permanent base.
MR. SCHLITT: Sir, could you give us your view on air-sea battle? We haven’t heard much about that recently, and certainly in the Pacific, it would be implied that that might be the way to go.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I mean, I – when I think air-sea battle – by the way, it’s probably one of the problems; everybody thinks about it all differently, which means we’ve got some work to do on it – but when I think about air-sea battle, I think about it as a multiservice approach to the development of tactics and technologies for the larger issue, which for me is joint operational access.
So, for – you know, as the Chairman, it won’t surprise you to know that I look at operational access with all the services in mind. You know, what does operational access mean to the Army? Well, at the tactical level, it could mean counter-IED technology, because that’s an access issue. The enemy on the ground uses IED technology to deny us access, so I think every service has a part to play in operational access. And the Air Force’s part and the Navy’s in particular, is ensuring access to the domains to ensure freedom of navigation so that we can have the influence we need and access to markets and so forth. And that’s a – that’s a subset, though, for me, of joint operational access.
I think we’re – I think we’re going to be fine with it, but I think based on the question – and not only the question I get here, but the question I get as I travel – I think we’ve got work to do on it to make sure we’ve got our narrative right.
MR. SCHLITT: Sir, there’s been lots of – switching now, there’s been a lot of discussion on the Hill, within the administration, about the nuclear triad, the numbers of weapons. Please tell us how you feel about both of those issues, the triad itself, and then if we have enough, too many.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, as you know, the president commissioned a nuclear posture review. That work has not been completed – the work has been completed, but we haven’t yet – it has not yet been released.
But I think that – so let me answer the question two ways. One is, there remains a commitment to the triad. Now that commitment could be – you know, we could find that commitment to be pressured, not necessarily in the current budget environment, but if the budget environment changes dramatically, of course, you know, everything, quote-unquote, is on the table, and future budget challenges could cause us to have to rethink the way we’ve managed our nuclear and the way we’ve managed our nuclear enterprise. But for now, I can tell you categorically and definitively, we are committed to our nuclear triad.
Secondly the size of the – of the – of the capability will be determined over time in consultation with other nuclear powers, notably Russia. And – although, you know, there are some things we may decide to do – and General Taylor is far more articulate about this – based on our ability to continue to modernize the enterprise. So there are these – there are kind of a – this is kind of a three-legged stool. There’s the – there’s the number of weapons involved, and then there’s the very important work of modernizing the stockpile, and we’ve got to figure out how to apply, you know, ends, ways and means – to borrow a phrase from Clausewitz – in a new fiscal environment.
But I can tell you, to this point, I’m pretty happy with the progress of the work. And General Taylor, I don’t know if you’re going to be speaking up here, but I would encourage you to ask him that question.
MR. SCHLITT: Sir, I – this is a challenging one, so feel free not to answer it.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Not to be confused with the last one, right?
MR. SCHLITT: (Laughs.) Right. (Laughter.) The – you mentioned that you feel that there will be some changes, perhaps in the reserve component, the guard and the reserves, so – or in the guard and reserves, so in that – in that, what options have you seen that you can just share with us?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I did say there would be some changes, but first of all, I would expect that everybody in this room, and then when I go talk to the Association of the United States Army and the Navy League and all – I mean, I – I think if we don’t – if we don’t – if we don’t not only expect change, but embrace it, you know, we’re going to find ourselves in a place where we would – we run the risk of being irrelevant.
You know, General Shinseki, years ago, when the Army was going through its last change – not its last change in the sense that that’s the last one we’ll ever change, but the most recent change – he said, you know, if you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less. And I think that’s exactly right. The question is, you know, how do we – how should we approach the AC-RC mix differently in the future, not just because of budget pressure, but rather because we should have learned something over the last 10 years that would encourage us to make changes.
You know, people sometimes complain that we’re being pressured by the budget to make the changes we’re making. Well, of course, you know, resources are always a factor in strategy. There’s no such thing as a strategy without – there’s no such thing as a – as a strategy insensitive to resources. I’ve been in the Army for 38 years, in the military for 38 years. Some of those years we’ve had more resources than we could imagine or want. Other years we’ve had far fewer resources than we could imagine or want. But in every case, as strategies are developed, they’re always sensitive to resources.
So I find the – I find a – you know, kind of a false dichotomy there in some ways when we talk about whether budget pressure is driving us or not. We have to have a strategy sensitive to resources. But more important to me is, as I became the chairman – actually, as I became the chief staff of the Army, you know, I said to the Army leadership, I said, you know, if we – if we don’t take the lessons we’ve learned over the last 10 years of war and somehow manage the force differently, change its complexion, change our AC-RC mix, you know, understand what has to be ready tonight and what can wait 30 days, shame on us, if all we’re doing is holding on tight, you know, to the existing – to the existing structures and the existing concepts.
So I’m actually – you know, I’m in a place where I actually feel good about the fact that we’re having this conversation, which can be sometimes uncomfortable. I mean, I got that, back to the family analogy, but it’s a conversation we have to have, not just because it’s a new fiscal environment, but maybe more important, because if we don’t have this conversation, we’re going to get out to – we’re going to back out to 2020 instead of shaping 2020. And that would be a real mistake for the country.
MR. SCHLITT: Well, sir, thank you very much, General Dempsey. Thank you for you timely presentation, and we have for you a February 1946 edition of “National Geographic,” which includes a Capstone article written by Hap Arnold – this is a new one for me – “Air Power for Peace.”
In the spirit of your attendance today, please accept this.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Thank you very much. Thanks. (Applause.) That’s great.
MR. SCHLITT: (Off mic.)
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. Thank you. (Applause.)