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Gen. Dempsey's Remarks at Tooele Army Depot, Utah

By As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey, Tooele Army Depot, Utah
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY:  My team and I really are delighted to be here.  And just to let you understand why we’re so delighted to be here, you know, we’re back in Washington, D.C., with Secretary Hammock and others trying to see the future and how we can ensure that we continue to provide the nation as many options as possible in the face of fiscal constraints.  And so this thing called the defense industrial base keeps coming up.  And naturally, if you know my background, you’ll know that I haven’t spent much time with the defense industrial base.  So I wanted to come out and see what it was. 

And this is one of those places that I’ve always wanted to visit.  As a young captain at Fort Carson, Colorado, I actually had a mission to help secure it in the event of a higher-threat condition.  Thankfully, that never occurred.  And so you never saw me and I never saw you.  (Laughter.)  But nevertheless, it’s been a place in my mind that at some point I absolutely wanted to visit.  And it turns out that it comes at a really important time for me personally, and I think for our Armed Forces as, again, we try to – we try to see the future a little more clearly.

Let me start by first thanking the people.  You know, I get to travel around a lot, talk to many different groups internally in the United States and overseas.  And they always ask me, you know, if I’m generally optimistic or generally pessimistic.  Are we a nation in incline or decline?  And I answer that question with as much force and passion as I can.  And that is that we continue to be a nation of men and women who have two qualities.  And I would describe those two qualities as trust and generosity – trust in each other and generous within the challenges that we face as a nation together.

And on that basis – on the basis of who we are as a people – I convince any audience that I come across that as long as we got the people right, this country’s going to be fine.  And I would like to add my personal thanks to those of you who have – who are serving.  And as Chris mentioned, there’s fourth and fifth generations of men and women who have spent their lives, really, here at Tooele Army Depot and the Joint Munitions Command, making sure that the war fighter has what they need and doing what’s right for the country.  So how about if my team joins me in giving you a round of applause?  (Applause.)  And obviously I want to thank Chris and Cindy, who are the command team here and who provide the leadership, the inspiration and the commitment that pulls it all together.  So thanks very much for that. 

I always look – whenever I’m going to speak I look and see what happened on this day in history that I can use.  And it turns out there was actually one that was perfectly suited for this event today.  On this day in 1915, the electric starter for the internal combustion engine was invented by a guy named Chas Kettering – more on him in a moment.  So the electric engine to start cars was – the electric starter was invented today, which I’m sure my helicopter pilots really appreciate, because can you imagine cranking – you know, getting a big crank out there to turn over the engine on the UH-60 helicopter?  But it’s indicative of the way that Americans throughout history have been innovative and creative in addressing problems.  So we had this wonderful internal combustion engine, but no way to crank it, except manually.  And along comes Chas Kettering and invents the starter and we’re off. 

Now, I said I’d mention something about Kettering as well in his – later in his life.  And that is that he founded the Sloan-Kettering Institute, which many of you know has been for generations one of our nation’s finest cancer research and cancer treatment facilities.  So there you – there it is, what I said earlier – there’s that combination of trust – you know, he trusted that he was doing something good for the country, and then he had the generosity throughout his life, not just in that moment in time, to continue to contribute.  And that’s the way I feel about all of you, you know?  I trust that you are out there getting it done for those of us that are in other parts of this great enterprise.  And I know that you will do so with great generosity in your personal time and commitment.  And I thank you for that.

One final thought about the future, because I – as I think, as I look around me that what we’re looking at here is a glimpse, but only a glimpse, of the future – although I’m not sure that I’m going to sign up for funding those stills over there.  Where’s that – (laughter) – where’s that doctor from Utah that – (laughter).  You know, I got it about the solar panel, but the still?  I don’t know.  (Laughter.)  No, it’s not a still.  You – most of you know exactly what that is.  But I will say that’s another glimpse of the future – public-private partnerships, academic, government.  I mean, look, we can’t – the days when we could figure this out ourselves – that is to say the United States military – are long behind us.  And so we’ve got to partner with private industry and we’ve got to partner with academia in order to confront these really challenging problems.

So Chris mentioned that, you know, the potential here is not only to become more efficient, more effective, to allow ourselves to get the job done at lower costs, but also he mentioned the possibility that some of these technologies would eventually migrate into the operational realm and keep kids off the road, where, as you know, our enemy uses their asymmetric advantage to try to kill our convoys because they can’t confront us, you know, face-to-face.   So this is really exciting for me, to see this begin to evolve.

I talk a lot about 2020 and what force we’ll need in 2020.  The reality is 80 percent of the force of 2020 exists today.  So what I’m really trying to – because of the way we program, the way we – our acquisition and procurement cycles, it’s the way we do design, it’s the way we change.  We change in kind of five-year increments.  So 20 percent of what I will deliver to the nation in 2020 exists or is in training, if you will – will exist whether I touch it or not.  It’s that 20 (percent) – 80 percent is in existence.  It’s that 20 percent that I’m really eager to get right.  And I think that the way we produce and use energy is certainly one of – one part of that 20 percent.

And so that’s my motivation for being here.  We’re thrilled to be part of this ceremony.  Great to see the hardworking men and women of Tooele Army Depot and Joint Munitions Command.  And I look forward to throwing a little dirt with you.  Thanks very much.  (Applause.)