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Gen. Dempsey's Town Hall with the Minnesota National Guard


By As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey, Rosemount, Minn.
COMMAND SGT. MAJ. CYNTHIA KALLBERG: Room, attention!

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey.

GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Thank you. Have a seat, please.

That my introduction? That’s perfect, that’s good. (Laughter.) That’s my kind of introduction. Most times, they talk about my bio, and I – by the time they’re done, I’m so bored and I feel awfully old, so – I know, Sergeant Major, you don’t think I look old, but I –

COMMAND SGT. MAJ. KALLBERG: Absolutely not.

GEN. DEMPSEY: – sometimes I feel like it.

Well, look, I’m delighted to be here to do a couple of things. One is to thank you for your service. We can’t do that enough. And I had a little time with the Red Bulls in Iraq – personally, I have some time with the Red Bulls in Iraq, and I know many of you probably know that. I’ve admired your work a great deal.

I didn’t know the 133rd as much of – I’m pretty sure I’ve probably flown around with you. And the reason I say I’m pretty sure is that the Minnesota National Guard has been in this fight from the start. And on that basis, I want to tell you how proud we are of what you’ve done and how you put your lives on hold and how your – and by the way, how your families put their lives on hold – but also, the way you did it. You know, you did it with great professionalism; you came together, your families back here. You know, you were the – kind of the groundbreakers on family support for the National Guard in the state of Minnesota.

So, awfully proud of what you’ve done, and I wanted to come and tell you that personally. So thank for being here to let me do that.

Second thing I want to do is have a little conversation with you. That means we’ve got to talk both ways. It can’t just be me talking. That’s the definition of a conversation. About, you know, the future, because I know – well, at least I hope you’re interested in it, because that’s what I do for a living, is I try to figure out the future. And I’d certainly like to get your thoughts on it. Or at least you could share your concerns. But we’ll have – we’ll do that in a second.

I want to tell you a couple of things here. One is, I’m a huge – I read voraciously, and I do that because I think leaders are lifelong learners. So the other day, I came upon a piece of writing, and it reminded me that on the 14th of August, so two days ago, in 1945 – in 14 August of ‘45 – the President of the United States, Truman, declared the unconditional surrender of Japan.

Now, we all know that from the history books. Well, I hope you know that from your history books. But what I found more interesting was, on that very day, then-chief-of-staff of the Army, who – we didn’t have a chairman back then, so it was George Marshall, but he really was the guy running the war on behalf of the President – wrote a memo about change and about transition.

And in the memo, he pointed out that in the next year, from that point forward, the task was to discharge 5 million men and – mostly men in those days – 5 million men in uniform as we transitioned from a nation at war to a nation at whatever followed. 5 million in one year.

So I go looking for those kind of little historical vignettes – and, by the way, changed the whole industrial base from this enormous war machine into something that now would have to help the economy. I always go looking for little vignettes like that to help me remember that this is not the first time our military or our nation has experienced either change or economic, you know, tough times.

So the first thing I want to tell you, as you sit here in Minnesota – and by the way, it’s a lot nicer here in Minnesota than where I live. I got to tell you. I could tell that flying in; I could tell it when I got off the aircraft – I mean, people were smiling at me. You know when the last time anybody smiled at me in Washington, D.C.? (Laughter.)

So you know, you are somewhat removed from it, and you ought to, actually, when you hit your knees tonight, you ought to – (laughs) – you know, you ought to thank the Lord for that bit of separation from that.

But you know – and I’ve been here before, by the way. I – as a young captain, if there is such a thing – I see a couple of them that look a little young here – I was an adviser to what then was the 47th Division, and came out to Camp Ripley on two consecutive summers, and from Fort Carson, Colorado – I was in the 4th Infantry Division – out here with the 47th for an extended period of time over two summers, and fell in love with it, actually. So, you know, you live in a pretty nice place, and I’m sure that’s not lost on you, but it’s not lost on me either.

But in any case, as we – as we look to these changes – and by the way, there’s a change; you went from the 34th in World War II to the 47th, and then I guess just recently, or somewhat recently, with General Vessey’s help, you went back to being the 34th again. So, you know, change is just part of our military life. And I’m not asking you not to be worried about it, but I am suggesting to you we’ll be OK, as long as we stay in contact with each other – you know, as long as I do a decent job back where I fight my fights; as long as you find ways to communicate about, you know, what’s important to you, we can figure this out.

And by the way, we can figure it out not for ourselves but for our country. This isn’t about figuring all this out for what’s best for us, although, you know, I’m not going to ignore what’s best for us. But it’s really about figuring out what’s best for the country.

So we’ve been down that road before; we’ll do it again.

Second thing is, I’m trying to really shape the discussions about the future, not one year at a time and one budget at a time, but rather to take a – you know, a little bit deeper look out to 2020. And I’m looking at 2020 because while I’m chairman, that’s the force that I will build. And I’ll build it because we’ll turn in four budgets, and the last budget will be one that carries us through 2020. That’s just the way our system works.

So I really want to understand, what does the nation need in 2020? How do we build that capability? How does that capability – how do we deliver it, you know, in a way that’s affordable for the nation? Because, you know, the nation does have some economic challenges. You know that. And we can’t – we can’t adopt the Heisman Trophy against that, you know, we can’t say, that’s – I’m glad somebody’s working on it, but not me. I’m not going to work on that part of it; that’s somebody else’s problem. Not really. We’re all citizens first, and therefore I think we’ve got to figure out how to help the country through that economic challenge while preserving the military that it needs, the country needs, to provide as much options in the future. And as I said, I’m looking at 2020. So I’d be happy to talk to you about that.

The last thing I’ll tell you is, I’m working on three transitions, and you need to know what they are because they will affect all of us. So, I am the chairman who will take us from a military that is generally consumed by deploying into combat – and we have been. I mean, in the case of the active component, one year in, one year out. In the case of your component, one year in, four years out – in theory, but it hasn’t always worked out to be four years. And then with – pardon me – individual augmentees, you know, I mean, some of you I’m sure have been in one year in and one year out.

So we’ve been a force that for 10 years has been consumed by deployments. And the other factor in that is that if you’re – I don’t know, of – let’s see, if you’re probably 32 or 33 years of age or younger in our Army or our Air Force, you’ve known nothing but counterinsurgency, really, because that’s all we’ve been doing since you were on active duty. And I’m a little older than that. Almost twice as old as that. Not quite; don’t get – don’t get nervous. (Laughter.) I will not – I promise you I will not fall out in the middle of this speech here. (Laughter.)

But – so if you’re – you know, again, 32, 33 years of age and younger, you’ve done nothing in your entire career but support Iraq and Afghanistan, really. So the question now, as we transition from a force that has been consumed by counterinsurgency to a force that has to be ready for other things and has to be able to do other things – if you’re on the ground, you got to be able to manoeuver more than we have in the last ten years – and if you’re in the air component, you know, we’re going to go back to what I suspect will be larger air expeditionary force deployments, not smaller ones. You know, we’ve been breaking apart our units and sending them in order to provide smaller packages. We’ve got to still be able to muster up the big package when we need it.

So we’ve got some skills that I think have probably atrophied, and we’ve got to get after those. So that’s one of the transitions I’ve got to manage, with your help. And I say your help, because as I look around the room, there’s a lot of noncommissioned officers and officers here. And we’ve got to take this force that’s been doing one thing extraordinarily well for the last ten years, 11 years, and we’ve got to make sure that it’s not a one-trick pony. And it’s not, but don’t underestimate how challenging that will be.

You know, when I was coming into this period of my career, the third decade of my career – I’ve got 38 years now. As I was entering the third decade, you probably heard my generation criticized for being Cold Warriors, you know. We were stuck in that Cold War mentality. I reject that a little bit, for reasons, you know, we could talk about probably best over a beer. But I just reject the idea that we’re so single-minded that we can’t be adaptable.

But nevertheless, it was a challenge, I will admit to you, for us to change the way we looked at problems from that Cold War paradigm into the counterinsurgency paradigm. We did it, but it was a little difficult for us. I would submit to you that those of you that have done nothing but COIN are going to have exactly the same challenge going back to looking at other kinds of – other kinds of warfare: maneuver warfare, higher-intensity conflict against potentially near-peer competitors. And we’ve got to be able to do that, not because we think it’s on the – it’s right over the horizon, but it could be someday. And you can’t wait until it’s there to get ready for it.

And I suggest to you that just as I had some challenges changing my approach from Cold War to counterinsurgency, those of you that have known nothing but counterinsurgency are going to have the same challenge looking back at it the other way. We’ll get through it, but it is a transition.

The second one is obvious as hell to you—big budgets or bigger budgets to smaller budgets. How much smaller? I don’t know. Hell, if you’ve been reading the papers, you know there’s nobody on the face of the planet that can figure out what’s going to happen in December when all of these different financial crises kind of collapse on each other. I suspect that the nation will prevail and we’ll figure it out, but for now – we have to figure it out. I mean, it’s the nation that’s counting on us. We’ll figure it out. But for now, it’s very complex and very uncertain. And you’re living with a lot of that uncertainty, as I am, but it’s my responsibility to help us transition through a period of time in our history when we’re going to go from largely unconstrained budgets of the last 10 years – if you needed it, you got it – to something that is going to be more constrained.

Now, you know, on the surface, you know, that might make you a little uncomfortable. But again, we also have an obligation to make ourselves more affordable for the country. Because the country has an economic challenge, we need to be part of helping us get through it. Why? Because national power – I’m a big fan of national power – and national power is actually the aggregate of three things, not just the military. It is the military, but it’s also economic wellbeing and it’s also diplomatic influence. And if any one of those legs is weak, the whole stool is weak.

So we’ve got to get after it. And that’s a transition that I’ll have to manage with the help of all of our senior leadership in all of the services and all the components, active, Guard and Reserve.

And then the last one is that same transition that Marshall faced, back in World War II, where we shrunk the Army by 5 million. Now, don’t get nervous; we’re not going to shrink the Army by 5 million. Were we to do so, we‘d have to first build it up to 5 million – (laughter) – from – you know, from something that’s sitting right about a million. So we’re not going to do that, but we are going to, in the next five, six years we’re going to ask about 120,000 – 100,000 Army, generally; 20,000 Marines – to find other employment. And we owe it to them – the Air Force and the Navy, by the way, have essentially reshaped themselves over the last three or four years. The land component has yet to do that. We’re going to do that, but we’ve got to do it right. That’s a transition that we’ve got to carefully manage, because we owe it to those young men and women who have served so honorably and so well to make sure we take care of them.

OK. Last thing is, in all of that, we got to keep faith with our military family. And I use the term “family” broadly. It’s – I don’t mean just my spouse and my kids, or your spouse and your kids. I mean the veterans, Gold Star mother, wounded warriors. You know, it’s a – it’s a big family, this military of ours, and we got to keep faith with it.

Now, we keep faith with it in a couple of important ways. One is with family programs. So you can be sure that we will – we will – whatever resources we have, we will not break the family support that we’ve come to rely upon. But we’ll have to be disciplined about that. We got to rack and stack and prioritize programs, because again, over the last 10 years, if you had an idea for a program, you could probably get the money to set it up. The challenge, of course, is we’ve got a thousand flowers blooming out there, and we’ve got to make sure that we can identify the ones that are most important and ensure we continue to resource those.

The second way we keep faith is by pay compensation, health care and retirement. And we’re working that; happy to talk to you about it if you’d like.

The third one – and this is the one you can’t ever forget. The other way we keep faith with our military family is by making sure that we provide the toughest training we can provide you. See, I’m not keeping faith with you if I resource you all that other stuff and I don’t train you, because then I send you off to war and you’re not ready for it.

So training, maintenance, all those things that define your life on a day-to-day basis that make us the best trained, best led, best equipped force on the planet, we – that’s part of keeping faith too. So when you hear people talk about keeping faith, and then they’ll say, well, we have to freeze – I’m making this up now, but – you know, we got to freeze pay for a year. We’re not. But I’m just, like I said, I’m making that up. It’s – somebody’ll say to me right away, or blog to me, hey, you’re not keeping faith because you’re not paying me as much. That may be – that may happen. It might happen. If it happens, it’s because we’ve had to make adjustments in all of the different accounts we have in order to make sure we’re still well-trained, well-led and well-equipped. You know? It’s a balance we’re after, not all of our money in one pot so we’re all happy, but we’re not trained.

I – frankly, happy is sort of secondary to me when I look out on this audience. I like happy, don’t get me wrong, and my wife likes me to make you happy, but if you’re happy but not well-trained, I’m not doing my job.

OK, again, I’m happy to be here and really honored to have the chance to gather all of this august group in a room and have a chance to have a conversation with you. What are your questions? Yes? That was quick. That’s not a good sign. (Laughter.)

Q: Good afternoon, General. Command Sergeant Major Doug Wortham. I’m with the 34th Division Headquarters – Headquarters Battalion.

You talked about change, and – I have my notes so I don’t screw it up –

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, yeah. Go ahead.

Q: – with you here. But you talked about change and, you know, combat operations have forced the Reserve component to transition from a strategic reserve to an operation force.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Right.

Q: So as the combat ops start to wind down, I’m just wondering if we’re going to be able to maintain that, and how do we do that?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, I mean, isn’t – that’s the essence of the challenge that I alluded to.

You nailed me down. In my opening remarks, I alluded to this transition between a force that is constantly deploying to one that is not. OK, so there’s – there is actually an answer to your question, and it gets – it gets at this thing called ARFORGEN [Army Force Generation], if you’re asking me an Army question – and I was the Army chief for a while.

ARFORGEN provides the lens through which we can see the answer to your question. So if you’re – even if – even after the ARFOGEN – that’s the patch chart – you’re all familiar with that? Even if the deployments are lowered – and they’re not going to go to zero, but they’re going to get lower – there will always be a patch chart and there will always be an available pool, a trained ready pool and a reset pool, always, in perpetuity.
And in that context, the Guard has to play a part in entering each of those pools, just as the active component brigade does. So, you know, notionally, when I was the Army chief, if we were – if we wanted to produce 12 Brigade Combat Teams in the available pool, I always wanted to have two or three of those National Guard brigades so that as you could look to your future, you could see when you were going to be given the resources necessary to train and prepare to be in the available pool.

Now, I don’t have – because I’m not the Army chief any longer – I don’t have all of that committed to memory and understand all the changes that have been made to it. But, generally speaking, you will remain part of the – of the rotation, and it’s in that rotation that you will find kind of the raison d’etre and the reason – and the resources to continue to maintain your readiness.

But it’s going to be hard on everybody, not just the Guard but also on the active component because, you know, the resources are going to be more constrained. But I – what you have – I think – I mean, I can speak for the chief of the Army but I’ll speak for me as well personally – you have our commitment that we’re not going to allow – we’re not going to go back to the status quo prior to 9/11, which was 39 days a year and, you know, you might get used once every, you know, five or six or seven years for some training event. Now, sometimes, you will deploy for training. I mean, that ARFORGEN cycle could align you to a regional combatant commander for a particular rotation.

But the other thing we’ve got to do, that’s the – that’s the theory. We’ve also got some work to do – once we settle in on it, we also got some work to do with your civilian employers who haven’t minded sending you off to war; they’ve been extraordinarily supportive of that. But we’ve got to make sure and test their willingness to send you off to a training event in Africa or in South America or in Europe, you know, where you’re partnered already.

So we’ve got to figure that out but – and know that we’re all aware that you don’t want to go back to the way it was and neither do we.

Q: Thank you, sir.

GEN. DEMPSEY: OK.

Q: Good afternoon, General Dempsey. Sergeant Rasmussen from the 2-136 CAB [Combat Arms Battalion] of Maple Grove, Minnesota. This follows up pretty much the same question here –

GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, I’ll just give you the same answer then. (Laughter.)

Q: In USA Today and Stars and Strips article published on July 30th, General Odierno said National – that National Guard and Reserve soldiers will see annual training periods increase from two weeks a year up to seven weeks a year on a five-year training cycle. Combined with other training requirements, such as NCO academies, this will place a greater strain on Reserve soldiers, families and their employers.

How will the military reduce the impact of this additional training on Reserve soldiers?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. No, I – it really is a very similar answer. We have to get – we have to get clarity – it’s sort of a several-step process. So the first thing we have to do – that’s why I’m looking to 2020 – I have to be able to articulate for the services, not just the Army, but because I’m the chairman of the Joint Chiefs – I’ve got to be able to articulate the demand on each service. So I want – again, I’m making these numbers up because we’re not there yet – but I want 12 Brigade Combat Teams in the available pool at all times, I want, you know, two air expeditionary wings, I want two carrier battle groups, whatever it happens to – and a couple of MAGTFs from the Marine Corps – Marine Air Ground Task Force.

And then, they will – if I – once I establish the demand, they will be able to take that demand signal and spread it across the existing force structure, so that would argue right away that you have to have 36 brigades in the Army. If you need 12 in the available cycle, you need 12 getting ready to go and you need – and you probably have 12 just back. Doesn’t mean that’s all you have, but you have to expose 12 to the cycle.

And then, it’ll be a matter with the National Guard Bureau, it’ll be a matter with the – you know, and you know the chief of the National Guard is now a member of my JCS [Joint Chiefs of Staff] – we will then enter into a discussion with them in what’s called the OPSDEPs tank, the Operational Deputies – the G3s of all the services – and they will look at which units should be placed on that patch chart so that we can tell you, Sergeant Rasmussen, that in 20 – I’m making this up – but in 2015, you should expect to be in the available pool and deployed to either training, if that’s what we need you to do, or potentially to combat, if that’s what we need you to do, and your training cycle to get there will look like this.

So in theory now, where we’re headed is that about three years in advance of a – of a deployment, you would have the kind of visibility you need to settle your employment issues, to settle your family issues, and the unit would have time with its leaders to go through the, you know, the preparations necessary to get you ready to go. That’s where we’re headed.

I think, by the way, it’s a far better model than we’ve ever had before, but it’s going to take some work. Thanks for the question.

Q: Thank you, General.

GEN. DEMPSEY: What else? This side of the room is strangely quiet. Or just strange. (Scattered laughter.) Yeah?

Q: Good afternoon, General. I’m CW5 Pete Panos. I’m the command chief for the state. My question is you’d mentioned in your earlier remarks that keeping the faith with the soldier – or the troops as we draw down through all the military services. My question would be is there a group within Department of Defense or within the services that’s working on employment, civilian employment training? And is there a collaboration going on with the VA or other groups like that?

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, you’re talking about mostly separation in preparation?

Q: Yes, sir.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, absolutely. There’s – it’s one of those areas where there’s so much going on that it’s actually hard to corral it. But I’ll – I just sat through a meeting about a couple of weeks ago with the SECDEF, Secretary of Defense Panetta, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Shinseki, the service chiefs, including the chief of the National Guard, and what we’re looking at is revising TAP.

Now, TAP is Army but each of the services have some acronym that relates to transition. The Army’s is transition – Transition Action Plan, I think, if that’s right. I – there’s so many acronyms in my head that I just don’t – I just make them up now. And by the way, I’m chairman, so nobody cares. (Laughter.) I even create new ones from time to time.

But the Army’s transition program which, as you remember it, or – and even potentially how it exists today, was kind of something you surged on in the last six weeks of your – of your service, which is really not the way to do it – is being revised so that, fundamentally, you begin transitioning out the day you come in. Now, that’s not to encourage you to get out. But what it does is it says, OK. Here you come into the service, and you’ll begin to have access – some of which is online, some of which is personal – about your leader development objectives, your educational objectives, your job skill objectives, how do you translate those military skills into the – into the civilian sector.

We’ve got initiatives so that, for example, a welder – anybody in here a welder? There’s got to be a welder in the room. Hey, all right, I knew I’d find one. You look like a welder. Let me see your hands. (Laughter.) Yeah, you look like a welder. (Laughter.) Welders always have scars. But so a welder in this country would have to go from state to state and get credentialed in every state, you know what I mean – as opposed to Army-credential welder could go wherever he wanted to go and have the credential already set.

We’re also on – by the way, working on the spouses’ side, there’s an initiative called Joining Forces you may have heard about that’s taking on things like spousal – so if your – if your spouse is a nurse – are you going to ask me a question about that? OK. If your spouse is a nurse and you go from one state to the next, she probably has to get recertified in that state – or a teacher or a lawyer. She’ll have to get rebarred in that state. Well, the president’s wife and the vice president’s wife created this thing called Joining Forces. And they go out and they talk to – I’m sure they don’t always do it personally, but they get people to talk to states and say, hey, look, if it’s a military spouse and she happens to be a nurse, can’t we count, credential, and allow it to apply universally? So I think we’re up to, like, 23 states now.

So there’s a lot of things going on where the states are beginning to collaborate and cooperate on this thing called transition. And I think you’ll see – over the next couple of years I think you’ll see some pretty – things that I didn’t think we’d ever be able to do. I mean, we’re working with the VA on a common medical record. You know, you might say, why does there have to be a medical record when you’re in the active, Guard, or Reserve but serving, and then you have to have an entirely different record when you go to the VA? Or you know, can’t we have one record and from the time you come in until the time you – you know, you finish – you die? You know, the – (laughter) – I was trying to find a nice way to say that. (Laughter.) That the medical record would be the same.

So yeah, there’s a lot of stuff going on. And some of it is actually now coming to fruition because information technology allows us to do it.

Q: Great. Thank you, General.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, but keep the fire burning, you know. We – there’s plenty of room – there’s plenty of room for improvement.

COMMAND SGT. MAJ. KALLBERG: OK, I think that’s all we have time for now.

GEN. DEMPSEY: No I’ll – I – I’ll take one more – (inaudible).

COMMAND SGT. MAJ. KALLBERG: OK.

GEN. DEMPSEY: I’m the chairman, remember? (Laughter.)

Q: Good afternoon, General.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Hi.

Q: Lieutenant McVenus (sp) from the 133rd Airlift Wing. The secretary of defense has recently spoke about a transition from the Middle East to India. And I’m curious on your thoughts of the United States’ role with the newly elected president of India.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, we didn’t – we don’t talk – we haven’t talked narrowly about this rebalancing. It’s really a rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific. And we counted – we used to say rebalance to the Pacific. And then in fact it was the Indians who pointed out, you know, hey, come on, you can’t just leap across us, we’re 1.2 billion people, you know. (Chuckles.) So now we talk about it as a rebalancing to the Asia-Pacific. And you know, all of these things that – your point’s really more profound than you know. You know, we have all these strategies. This is why – this is why you’ve got to be adaptable in our line of work. And I won’t use India because we haven’t seen any change – you said India, right?

Q: Correct.

GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. I haven’t seen any change that would – anything that would cause us to rethink our strategy based on that. But think about the changes that we’ve seen in places that are familiar to you recently. So in Egypt, you know, a brand-new president elected, and he changed – overnight he changed his minister of defense, and he changed his chief of army, which is really their chairman because they’re such a land-dominant force. So it took us a couple of days to try to figure out, is that going to change anything in our relationship with Egypt? And the answer is, by the way, if you’re interested, the two guys that he picked to take their place are both Army War College graduates.

So you know, sometimes – change is always uncomfortable. But often, if we – if we’re agile enough, the change can actually make things better for us and improve relationships, not disrupt them. Same, by the way, in Afghanistan. How many of you served in Afghanistan? OK. How many of you think you know who the minister of defense in Afghanistan is? Not anymore. (Scattered laughter.) This week the minister of defense was – resigned. He lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament, a – you know, a constitutional process, as did the minister of interior.

So right now we don’t have a minister of defense to work with or a minister of interior in Afghanistan. And so we’re kind of eagerly watching who now becomes the minister of defense and minister of interior because it’ll affect the relationship. But it doesn’t mean it’s always going to work to our disadvantage. I mean, we have to be agile and adaptable enough to – you know, to count for changes as we approach them.

One last thing on the Asia-Pacific. What you need to know – because the – you know, the new strategy said we have to shift our focus to the Asia-Pacific. OK, that’s absolutely true. I mean, it’s inevitable. All of the economic trends are moving that way; demographic trends; all of the security trends are moving that way. But it’s not a light switch. You know, one day we’re in the Mideast, and the next day, you know, I’m using chopsticks. That’s not – that’s not what we’re talking about here. (Laughter.) What we’re talking about here is that over time – you know, from now until – remember I said 2020 – we have to begin to adapt our strategy to account for the challenges we know we’ll face in the Asia-Pacific.

But we have time to do it. So you know, I mean, I can’t tell you how many times people say, yeah, but you didn’t put any more ships or airplanes or boots on the ground over there. I said, yeah, but you know, the first step in any journey in a strategy is shifting your intellectual bandwidth. So we’ve been focused like a laser beam on the Mideast. By the way, the Mideast is still consuming most of my day. But we’re beginning now to put expertise in place, to have seminars and forums, you know, VTCs [video teleconference] every week – I got a VTC this afternoon with the Pacific Command commander about Asia-Pacific issues.

So we’re beginning to shift our intellectual bandwidth. And I would venture to say that some of you will begin to be asked to do that. So as you go through leader development, whereas before somebody might say, we need Farsi speakers, Arabic speakers, Urdu speakers, I think you’ll see the demand now begin to move toward – not overnight, but toward gaining cultural, linguistic expertise in that part of the world.

If I were you, I’d be excited about it because, you know, I mean, for one thing, I think it’s intellectually stimulating to be asked to learn something about a part of the world that you probably never learned. Secondly, the opportunities for service are going to be incredible. OK, thanks for the question.

Q: Thank you, General.

GEN. DEMPSEY: All right, look, I’ve got to go and do a VTC. You know, that’s what happens. But I really do appreciate you taking the time and – to let me chat with you, hear what’s on your mind. And I – you know, I’m encouraged because what’s on your mind is also on my mind. And I think as long as that’s true – you know, if I were – if I were to come here and somebody say something and I’m entirely surprised by it, then I’m not a very good scout, you know, because it means I’m not in touch.

But look, you can – you can count on me to stay in touch with our – with our military. And that’s active, Guard and Reserve, all services. I’m – I am truly now the chairman of the joint chiefs, and I – though I wear the uniform of a soldier, and although my heart – you know, I mean – you know, you are what you eat. And for 38 years I’ve been a soldier. I can promise you that I care deeply about each and every one of you, no matter what you wear. And I even see I’ve got a brother in the audience, Sergeant Dempsey. So stand up, Sergeant Dempsey. (Laughter.) You must be from the ugly side of the family. (Laughter.) Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

COMMAND SGT. MAJ. KALLBERG: Room, attention!

Thank you, sir.

(END)