Virginia Beach, Virginia —
MR. : And it is my distinct honor that I have this morning, on behalf of the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA International to introduce our keynote speaker this morning, through rain and other adversities, who said this is important, an forum, the chairman, although a bit late in arrival, we are very, very honored to have him here with us.
He is, in fact, the 18th chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, adviser to the president, the National Security Council, number-one man in uniform in the armed forces of the United States. His prior assignment, one of the shortest-lived assignments, is the chief of staff of the United States Army before he fleeted up. He is a seasoned warrior, an armor officer, graduate of West Point, class of ’74. And he is a seasoned combat veteran in war and in peace.
The one item that I would single out about General Marty Dempsey: He is a caring leader. You will see that as he sets his vision forward with you today. He is looking to the future, looking to build the bench for the future and that great partnership we have with all in this room – allies, industry partners – a key, key piece.
With that, please join me in welcoming the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Marty Dempsey. (Applause.)
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY: Thanks, John. Thanks. Well, it’s good to be back. I think I was here last in 2009, actually, and have always considered this venue and this conference to be an opportunity.
As John said, it’s the human dimension, I think, that’ll get us through all this. And we’ll have to think our way through it, not bludgeon our way through it.
I’ll leave here, by the way, just so you know the rest of my day, and I’ll go out to the Naval Academy and talk to the graduating class of midshipmen, class of 2012. And that’ll complete the circle for me because I’ve gone to visit with each of the graduating classes and as many of the ROTC classes as I could. I spoke at Norwich on Sunday.
And my message is, writ simply, that they need to continue to – their work is really starting. You know, they were good enough to get to the academies. They’ve now demonstrated they’re good enough to graduate. But the task at hand for them now is to demonstrate that they’re good enough to lead our nation’s armed forces. And so their work is just beginning. But we’re in good hands.
So I am clearly a joint officer, flying into a naval base on an Air Force helicopter after having been grounded at Langley Air Force Base for a bit of time. But I am happy to be here and to join you for a conversation about the future. I think that’s kind of your task and purpose here today.
So we have a couple of things to talk about, jointness chief among them.
I want to say a couple of things about our heritage before I do that, a heritage that stretches all the way back to this day in history in 1863, when the Union Army sealed the fate of the Confederate forces at Vicksburg by defeating them in the battle of Champion’s Hill – Vicksburg, kind of an early example of a joint campaign – Army, Navy and Marines. Air Force would have been there, but we predated Orville and Wilbur by a few decades.
And so today we meet at another pivotal time in our joint force. We’re transitioning from a decade of war. A complex and uncertain security environment looms. And as we look toward the future, each service and our total joint force face fundamental questions about their identities, their roles and their capabilities.
You know, some of you probably know that back in the Pentagon we joke about how each service – each particular service has its own paranoia – an identity crisis, if you will – that causes them to ask from time to time, who are we and what are we doing here? For the Air Force, it’s the notion that unmanned flight will surpass manned flight and that – and when that happens, we'll take away their scarves and we’ll substitute computer joysticks. The Army, of course, wonders if we’ll ever fight another major land war. The Navy fears the demise of the carrier battle group, for generations the ultimate in maritime power projection. And the Marines, of course, are just Marines. They’re just paranoid all the time – (laughter) – and worried about whether they will every – whether they’ll exist at all. And I’m only half kidding about that, by the way, I mean, this kind of service paranoia.
Now, those paranoias are actually unfounded and misplaced anxiety, but you still hear them. And then you’ll also hear the other extreme sometimes, about the collapsing of all the services into a single service where everybody walks around in spandex leisure suits or something. Whoever thinks that is probably been to one of these joint war fighting conferences once too often, because that’s not going to happen, either.
The reality is we actually have the service mix about right. There is genuine strength in our service diversity – I like to think of it in the tank as diversity of thinking – and military utility in having multiple ways to meet the nation’s security challenges.
Now that said, these identity crisis moments are a good reminder that we should always be thinking about what the future will bring to each of us. And based on what we’ve learned over the last decade about war and about joint war fighting, and based on what we can expect about a new security environment, there is a lot we can do to make our joint force stronger.
Let me frame our challenge by talking about what I’ve begun to describe and begun to think about as a security paradox. One the one hand, we are witnessing greater levels of peace and stability worldwide. In evolutionary terms – and there’s some writing about this coming out of Harvard, actually – in evolutionary terms, the human race has never before experienced such low levels of violence.
On the other hand, destructive technologies are proliferating in two directions. They’re proliferating horizontally across advanced militaries and vertically into the hands of nonstate actors. As a result, more people have the ability to harm us or to deny us freedom of action than at any point in my professional life. Here’s the discomforting reality: We face a far more competitive security environment, one where our relative degree of overmatch against many foes has diminished.
Today’s security paradox, though, doesn’t call for larger or a smaller military. Instead, it calls for a different military, one capable of deterring, denying and defeating threats across the entire spectrum of conflict. What does this mean for the force? The joint force we have is in need of reset. The joint force we will need does not yet fully exist.
And after more than 10 years of hard joint war fighting, our services have a pretty good idea of what we do well together and where we need to improve. We must take what we’ve learned to build the future joint force, the joint force I’ve described as Joint Force 2020. Getting this right is so important that it is one of my four focus areas as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Now let me say from the start that Joint Force 2020 is actually going to look a lot like Joint Force 2012. I’m not talking about making a leap into the 24th century, you know, warp speed and tractor beams. But I do know that our present debates about force sizing must give way to a more fundamental discussion about missions and capabilities. We’re not ordering coffee at Starbucks. This isn’t a matter of getting a tall, grande or venti. It’s what will be different that will most matter.
Think of it this way: About 80 percent of Joint Force 2020 is either programmed or already exists today. The major building blocks of today’s force will still be around in eight years.
That said, we do have a perishable opportunity to be innovative in two ways. We can significantly change the other 20 percent of the force that’s not already programmed or in existence, and we can change the way we use the other 80 percent.
How will that change occur? Well, we have some pretty amazing materiel capabilities coming on line that will reverberate across the force as a whole. But actually, the nonmateriel changes make will matter even more; that is, how we combine and use our doctrine, training, leadership and education – the whole of the DOTMLPF paradigm.
Of course, we’re only really starting that long intellectual journey. But for today, I’ll lay out some initial thoughts about how that 20 percent that I mentioned might change and how it’s likely to, in turn, change the way we use the other 80 percent.
So let’s start with cyber. Cyber is one of those areas where our actual capabilities are beginning to resemble science fiction. In the future, cyber will become both a stand-alone war-fighting instrument with global reach, and it’ll also be a ubiquitous enabler of the joint force. It will be both part of the 20 percent that’s new and part of what allows the other 80 percent of the force to be used differently.
To make cyber a reality, we need to do two things. We need to continue aggressively pursuing new offensive and defensive capabilities. We need cyber to be wired into the whole force right away. If you recall when we stood up special operating forces, we made it a specialized community that grew up in parallel to the conventional force, and then later on, really only about the last 10 years did we fully integrate it into our joint force. Well, we can’t afford to do that with cyber. We’ve got to integrate cyber right from the start.
There are several other emerging capabilities that will play outsized or oversized or more important roles in Joint Force 2020. Clearly, ISR and long-range strike are two of those. So is undersea technology, where we do enjoy an overmatch capability against all adversaries. Unmanned technologies are on the rise, and they’re gaining importance not only in terms of effectiveness, but also in terms of their versatility and value. In an era of fiscal constraint or a new fiscal environment, a platform that offers those traits will almost always be the right one in which to invest.
The development and integration of these emerging capabilities will by no means amount to all that is new in Joint Force 2020. But I’ll wager that they will make up an important part of it. Integrating the new capabilities I’ve just mentioned with our foundational and impressive conventional force capabilities is important. Collectively, they’ll provide new ways to generate military power and to do so quickly, with global reach and with strategic adaptability.
This combination of increasingly powerful network capabilities and agile units at the tactical edge is an important development for several reasons. It provides the basis to project both discrete and overwhelming power across multiple domains. It gives policymakers and commanders alike a greater degree of flexibility in how they pursue objectives. And it allows us to press our advantages and advanced precision platforms, emerging capabilities and global networked mission command. Most importantly, it leverages our decisive advantage, which is adaptive leaders at every echelon. In Joint Force 2020, those factors will provide overwhelming effect on the enemy.
We can glimpse a bit of the power of this approach in our recent experiences in Iraq. When I commanded the 1st Armored Division in 2003, we were really just beginning to understand how to break down the walls between operations and intelligence. By 2008 when I was the acting commander of CENTCOM, we had achieved near-seamless integration at the tactical level of operations and intelligence. All-source intelligence really was all-source, and it really was fused. ISR was networked out to the tactical edge, and special and conventional forces were working together. As a result, we went from multiple operations to snatch a single high-value target to being able to dynamically retask on the objective based on sensitive site exploitation and move to another target and service that one as well. This is the kind of joint integration that we must build into our formations routinely in the future.
Now, there’s a flip side to using networks and advanced technology to overwhelm an enemy. Our substantial dependence on networked technology could become a critical vulnerability for joint operations. So we need to remind ourselves and ensure that our globally networked force can operate effectively in any environment, but particularly in those environments where our adversaries may purposely degrade our capabilities. In short, we need to be ready for the space and cyber domains to be contested exponentially more than they are today.
Preparing for this is as much a matter of leadership and training as it is engineering. To the extent possible, we need to continue to function even when our connectivity or system performance is degraded. GPS is terrific when it’s working, but if it gets jammed, we have to be ready to continue the mission. In my day, we did that with a map and a compass. Fortunately, today I hope we’ll find more elegant solutions.
But to foster this kind of resilience, we need to practice it, and we need to practice it frequently. We need to simulate degraded environments in our war games and stress test each of our systems. It could be that the worst-case scenario is actually the most likely scenario. Marines and soldiers have long been taught to assemble and disassemble their personal weapon while blindfolded. Well, think about a world in which all operators of all military systems might be required to develop some analogous skill. I understand that this involves an element of risk, but better to take that risk now, when we can effectively learn from a poor outcome, than in war, when our outcomes could be fatal.
Our best hedge against degraded environments is mission command and adaptive leadership. And that’s why we’re really pressing on that. We need to grow leaders who thrive in an environment filled with uncertainty and build organizations that are adept at managing stress on their technological systems.
We also know that in the future, our homeland will not be the sanctuary it has been. Whether it’s cyberattacks launched from afar or terrorists closer to home, our critical infrastructure will be threatened. This is a problem because many of our global capabilities that underwrite our superiority on the battlefield operate from the homeland. UAVs in Afghanistan are flown by pilots sitting in the continental United States. Will we still be able to operate these capabilities abroad if our power grid is brought down or the Internet stops functioning, and for how long? The joint force of 2020 really needs to own up to this monumental challenge in mission assurance. Our very effectiveness depends on it.
With all this talk of networking and its inherent challenges, it’s also important to note I’m just not talking about technology. I also mean the human dimension and social networking in the broadest sense of the term, human relationships and ideas. When I think of our successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, those successes were really built on the – on the foundation of strong relationships and the development of new ideas that were found collaboratively and helped us make our most genuine progress.
Now it’s not just counterinsurgency campaigns that need those relationships and ideas. Just stop for a minute and ask yourself, what kind of relationships and ideas do we need to successfully counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or terrorism or cartel violence or, for that matter, piracy? For each of these thorny problems, we need relationships across our entire government, and we’ll need to cultivate new and creative partnerships on many fronts, public and private, government and nongovernmental.
It’s somewhat telling that the first time I actually ever met someone from the State Department, I was a lieutenant colonel with 22 years in the service. Today you can’t find a second lieutenant who hasn’t worked with someone from USAID, State or Justice. And that’s a very good thing. The question is how do we sustain it.
As violent technology proliferates into many more hands, threats to our security will not just come from advanced militaries. They’ll also take more than military power to address. So when it comes to Joint Force 2020, the military instrument should never be exercised alone.
Now, that’s a lot to think about on a rainy Sunday morning here in the Tidewater. But I hope that everyone here shares a sense of urgency with me when we talk about the future joint force and the future of joint war fighting. We simply can’t afford to get this transition wrong. So as we build the joint force of 2020, we need to capitalize on emerging technology and pay greater attention to resilience in a contested environment and never forget the importance of building relationships. So Joint Force 2020 is not just about the 20 percent of the force we can change. It’s also about repurposing the other 80 percent.
We also need to remember that there are many things that won’t change. War will always be a contest of wills. So we need a military that can impose its will. That could be with a machine gun, or it could be with a click of a mouse. In tomorrow’s security environment, it’ll probably be both. It will certainly mean soldiers, soldiers, airmen and Marines with moral and physical courage. And it means trained and equipped battalions, ships and squadrons who can close with and defeat the enemy. Our services must continue to bring well-honed core competences to the joint fight, even as we ask them to employ those competencies in new and different ways, and that can be uncomfortable, but I’m pretty confident that they’re up to the task.
Although building a vision of the future force seems daunting, we are actually a country of quick learners and big ideas, and the quickest learners among us often have some really big ideas. The trick is to pick them out and run with them, even when they cut across the grain.
A little more than a decade ago, a young Marine captain named Wayne Sinclair wrote an article about IEDs that radically transformed the way we think about transporting our ground troops in combat. He noticed how emerging trends in explosives and vulnerabilities in our ground vehicle fleets could potentially put our troops at risk. He even pointed out a promising solution devised by South Africans. You could say that Wayne was the one who exposed us to the idea first of the MRAP.
The problem is that he wrote his paper in 1996. We didn’t grasp the full import of it until 10 years later.
Now Wayne went on to serve in Iraq and ride in the very MRAPs that he had called for, but not before simple homemade bombs nearly brought the world’s most technologically advanced fighting force to a halt.
The moral of the story is that there is no substitute for taking a clear-eyed look at the threats we face and asking our force must change to meet them. There are great thoughts out there, inside and outside the military, that will help us significantly innovate 20 percent of the force while reimagining how to employ the other 80 percent.
So when you finish this conference, go find the Wade – the Wayne Sinclairs of the world and get comfortable with the arguments that make you the most uncomfortable. That’s the kind of intuition that will help us build the best possible Joint Force 2020, and we’re going to need it.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
MR. : (Off mic) – take questions, if you would please come to the microphones when addressing the chairman.
Q: Morning, sir. It’s Mo Verling, Dynamics Research Corporation and the Air Force guy in your Command and General Staff College seminar.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Good.
Q: (Chuckles.) Sir, you told us a little bit about what your vision is for that 2020. Could you talk to us a little bit about the national strategy that’s going to lead us those kinds of changes that we need to go to?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I mean, I think we’ve – well, look, we published the – the SECDEF published the defense planning guidance, as you recall, for the – in anticipation of the budget submission for the ’13-’17 period. And in there we made several of the same assumptions that I reflect on today. Well, I mean, we also talked about rebalancing to the Pacific. We talked about moving away from a two-MRC construct to something that would better be defined, I think, as be prepared to defeat, to deny objectives, to impose costs. We talked about the integration of new capabilities. So I mean, some of this, I think, reflects that.
And as we go forward, it’s important to remember the rest of the story. At least from my perspective, when we rolled this out, although it was rolled out in anticipation of a single budget submission, we did start to cause ourselves to make the intellectual leap to 2020, so that we could take four swings at this, you know, we kind of – four swings in the next four years we as submitted each budget and have that be an important decision point along the way. So we wanted to not try to reconstruct this force one year at a time. We wanted to look beyond it, look backwards, and then pull toward it over four budget submissions, ’13-’17 through ’16-’20.
The other thing going on right now is that we’re actually – we’re taking that to heart. And so since we submitted that budget, the COCOM commanders, the service chiefs and I have met at Quantico three times for a day. I mean, we just pull ourselves away from everything else we do. We really sequester – I know that’s a really bad term, but – maybe I won’t use it. We hide ourselves down at Quantico and we spend the entire day kind of wringing out what this force that we’re building can and can’t do, where we’ve placed – you know, where we’ve overreached, where we may have other opportunities.
And you know, think about the Clausewitzian triad – you know, ends, ways and means. Well, as a global superpower, our ends are not going to change much. We can talk about changing our ends. We can say we’re not going to do that or we’re not going to do this. But the fact is, I’m not going to be the chairman when the president calls me up and says, I want you to do this, and I’m going to say, aw, jeez, I’m really kind of busy right now – (laughter) – and I’d love to be able to help you out, but you know, I just – I’m a little stressed out right now. So can you call me back maybe in 90 days or so and I’ll see what I could do.
We’re going to do it. I mean, that’s – you know. We’re a global superpower with a – with the finest military, by a wide margin, in the world – we’ll remain so, by the way – and we’re going to find a way to do it.
So the ends are going to stay about the same. The means are changing. We’re in a new fiscal environment. We’ve got to be thinking about how do we change the ways, and that’s kind of the message here today. We’ve – the force we’ve got is about the force we’ve got. We can tinker with it to about the 20th percentile between now and 2020. The other 80 percent, though, we got to think about how to use it differently. That’s where we’re putting our emphasis.
Q: General, Lin Wells from National Defense University. The question here is organizational learning in support of mission command. We’ve documented, over the past decade, lots of lessons learned. Rarely has the behavior changed to really incorporate them. So we get a lesson observed; the next year we come back and reobserve the lesson, and then reobserve the same lesson. In the concept development-experimentation, how do you sort of develop this kind of mission command attitude allowing people to fail without killing them for having failed? And how do you train the organization to say, OK, I’ve done this experiment, I’ve done this exercise, we did well; but three years later when we come back and do it, we remember that. How do you see that playing out?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Well, I think you’ve sort of laid out the challenge of mission command. When I was at TRADOC – that’s the last time I was here, by the way – was when I commanded TRADOC – and we started talking about mission command. And there were – there were some very – people I have a great deal of respect for who contacted me. Most of them had – were in retirement at the time; but they contacted and said, you’re not going to be able to do this. And I – you know, we entered into a conversation about, why not? And they said, because you’ll never develop that kind of trust. They said to me that mission command relies on trust; you’ll never be able to develop that kind of trust. So you’re headed down a path that is aspirational, but you’ll never pull it off.
So I took that as a challenge actually. And sort of as the companion piece to how do you develop that kind of trust that will allow mission command to become real, we embarked on a – with the advice of some guys like Bob Scales, sitting right here in the front – a – another in what has been about a 20-year cycle of relooking at ourselves as a profession.
So if you look back at our recent history, early ’70s, coming out of Vietnam, what did that do to our profession? Who were we? Did we have the knowledge, skills, and attributes right? If so, fine; if not, how do you develop them, OK? After the Gulf War, Gordon Sullivan took us down the same path. We’re out – you know, we’re coming out of the Gulf War, what did it do to us? What did we learn? Do we have the knowledge, skills and attributes right? We made some adjustments.
Just, you know, ironically, 20 years later, I’d find myself at TRADOC; thought I had a new idea: Oh, let’s study the profession. And realized that I was just a victim of history. It was time. You know what they say, if you want a new idea, read an old book? So I realized it was time for us to wrestle with what it means to be a professional. And in so doing, guess what we discovered? That the foundation of our – it’s not just mission command. The foundation of our profession is actually trust. So we had this kind of convergence of important ideas.
I’m not going to stand here and suggest to you that we have arrived. We now see ourselves. We have self-awareness, and therefore the – our work here is done. Head off – you know, head off to happy hour. What I will tell you is we are gaining a – what I would describe as a remarkable level of consensus about what we need to do, and that starts with the service chiefs, all the way out through the combatant commanders, and I’m starting to see it now manifest itself in the schoolhouse. It has not yet migrated into the operational force because we’re still pretty busy. That’s why I say we got to do this looking to 2020.
You know, between now and ’14, we’re still going to have soldiers on a – I’m talking soldiers now, but about – and I would say the Marines as well – we’ll still be at a 1-to-2 BOG/dwell, and it’s pretty hard to make change when you’re at that pace. But potentially, beyond that, we’ll have some capacity that we can turn toward the kind of things you’re talking about. But the – but the point is we got to get ready to take advantage of that capacity now. If we wait till we have it, we’ll squander it. So that’s just my thoughts at this point.
Q: Good morning, General. Thanks for being with us today. You mentioned the Strategic Defense Review that was recently released, and within that document, sir, it lists numerous priorities to sustain or improve multinational alliance or prospective coalition partner engagements within Defense. Yet historically, in austere fiscal times, we tend to focus more intrinsically and not externally to our partners. As you shape the joint force for 2020, how are you going to incorporate maintaining those equities and synergies that we’ve gained over 10 years of warfare with our coalition partners?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. Well, I would suggest to you I’ve got the – we have the same challenge confronting us on – and I alluded to it – but we have the same challenge in maintaining those relationships and our awareness of our interagency teammates because, as I said, I didn’t meet a member of the State Department till I was 22 years in the service. And as – and as I also said, now you’ve got lieutenants who expect that when they turn around, they’re going to see their USAID partner or their State Department partner or potentially someone from Justice or FBI. So – and we actually have the advantage in that – in maintaining that relationship because we’re kind of – we have multiple players at the scope position. So I can take somebody and put them in a fellowship some place. Frankly, the State Department, if they do that, they uncover a desk and so nobody’s watching Mali, you know, for a year. So we’ve got to figure this out.
I – you know, I mean, I don’t want to sound geeky here, but some of – some of maintaining that relationship interagency will be done physically and some will done, I think, virtually. You know, the virtual environments are improving to the point where, you know, you can actually – look, your kids and grandkids are interacting more in the – in the – in the virtual world than they are in the physical world. And you know, there’s upsides and downsides to that. I just want to understand whether we can leverage some of that as we go forward.
But to your point about international partners, I wish I had the service chiefs here with me because every one of them has taken that task in the defense review, this task of building partner capacity and building – and a leader development paradigm that has – that values cultural awareness and adaptation. You know, I personally think that I became adaptable because I was in so many different situations through my career. And every time you go to a new situation, you have to, you know, re-establish your bona fides. You got to understand your environment. You got to build relationships, up, down, and laterally. And I – you know, so, at some level, you know, our effort to give you, soldiers, again, soldier stability – you can stay at Fort Hood for eight, nine years – actually plays against adaptability, it seems to me.
Now, I’m not – I’m not going to be the chairman that completely reverses that because I – there’s good reasons that we keep people where they are: So they can buy a house; their spouse can get a job. And I need a – but we need to balance that against, you know, stretching people out, you know, putting them in uncertain environments. Each service chief has a – has a really well-thought-out approach to that.
And for example, Ray Odierno in the Army, if he were here, he’d tell you that as he generates the capacity to do so, he will align brigades regionally so that the commander of SOUTHCOM, the commander of AFRICOM, the commander of NORTHCOM, for that matter, will have a core of small units and leaders that he can apply across his combatant command in order to build relationships, build cultural awareness. And by the way, that’s the important point to me. It’s not just us doing things for our partners; it’s what we gain in leader development by pushing people out; causing them to have to gain some foreign language skills, cultural awareness, appreciation of, you know, diverse religions.
You know, we just got to – if you look back at what we’ve always done, at – in times of austerity, is we’ve invested in leader development and the intellectual preparation of the force. And now we’ve got to do that, and I’m just suggesting to you that that investment needs to include regions of the world as well as our own internal needs here in the continental United States. And we just got to figure it out, and we got to resource it.
Q: Good morning, sir, Petty Officer Gauthier, SACEUR STRATCOM, and a blogger for the Naval Institute. I guess I have a two-part question. One is, what is the best way to get ideas to you? And two, what is the best way to make ideas useful for you?
GEN. DEMPSEY: I’m sorry. I – what is the best way to do what?
Q: To get ideas to you, sir, and how to –
GEN. DEMPSEY: To get ideas to me?
Q: Yes, sir, and how to make ideas most useful for you.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, that’s a good one. Where do you work right now?
Q: I work for Admiral Stavridis in Strategic Communications.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, you want to come to the Joint Staff? (Laughter.)
Q: Absolutely, sir. I PCS in about six months.
GEN. DEMPSEY: The answer to that is, no, thank you, sir. (Laughter.)
The best way to get ideas to me – I’ve got – I’ve – you know, I have to watch my choice of words here. I’ve exposed myself in social media. So I have Twitter, I have Facebook, I also have a – I mean, I – my email address is one of the worst kept secrets, I think, in Washington, and that goes – that’s saying something about it. I have a CAG, you know, Chairman’s Action Group, that travels with me. And they’re not a CAG, by the way, that grades the homework of the Joint Staff. They are – their orientation is exactly trying to service what you’ve said, which is how do I – how do I find opportunities to learn, because that’s really what I’m doing when I come to venues like this or almost any other place I go. My first instinct is to try to learn something, not be up here to impart a great deal of wisdom. So if I keep learning, I think I’m OK.
But to your point, my CAG is here, and I’m sure that they would enjoy having you among their – the folks that interact with them. But if you’re speaking in general terms, how do I get ideas, I just have to make sure people know I’m accessible and that I’m open to ideas. I – some have heard me say that, you know, I’m a voracious reader. I mean, I do it for any number of reasons – important reasons I think. But some folks are surprised when they find out that I’m reading something that’s extraordinarily critical of something that I might believe.
But I think that’s what we need to do. We need to – we need to reach out and talk to the people, read the things that are being written that are both complimentary – it’s nice to read complimentary stuff, I’m not kidding you about that – but it’s important to read things that challenge your beliefs, challenge your assumptions. And so I try to do that as much as I can. I hope that answers your question.
Q: Aye, sir. Thank you.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Make sure – Troy Thomas, make sure you identify yourself. I didn’t even see you, I’m sorry. Go ahead, sir. You’re – these guys are in the light, you’re in the shadow.
Q: General, I’m Carl Osgood. I write for Executive Intelligence Review. General Cartwright said a couple of things yesterday that you may or may not agree with. He said – he said Air-Sea Battle is demonizing China, which he indicated is not a good idea. He also said that a lot more dialogue is needed with Russia before we proceed with the next steps on missile defense in Europe.
I’d like to know what your perspective is on the potential of cooperation with both Russia and China, particularly in areas like Afghanistan, like drug trafficking, like some of the other things that you mentioned that we need to deal with.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, so let me go down that list real quick. Air-Sea Battle is absolutely not a tactic that is oriented on any particular adversary. Air-Sea Battle – by the way, Air-Sea Battle is the multiservice cooperation on developing multiservice technologies for the most part. But it’s nested under the joint operational access concept.
It’s – so it’s – Air-Sea Battle is not a joint operating concept, joint – Air-Sea Battle is a multiservice, Air Force and Navy, tactic nested in a concept that’s called the joint operational access concept. And it’s not at all aimed at any particular country. There are any number of countries across the world that are developing anti-access strategies. And we’ve got to – if we hope to maintain freedom of movement, freedom of action, we have to address those.
Secondly, on the relationship with China and Russia, I mean, I’ve told many people that we really have to avoid Thucydides’ trap. Now, that’s a historical analogy. Thucydides said that it was the fear of a rising Sparta on the part of the Athenians that made war inevitable. So there’s huge history here about the challenge that the existing superpower has in dealing with an emerging power. I think we ought to aspire to be the superpower that breaks the paradigm. And we’re already doing it. We’ve got terrific mil-to-mil relationships at the service-to-service level. We’re trying to ratchet that up a notch.
This is all part of the rebalancing to the Pacific. We are a Pacific power. By the way, we’ve always been a Pacific power. We didn’t leave the Pacific. We’re just rebalancing – some of which, by the way, at this point is better described or more accurately described as rebalancing our intellectual bandwidth to the Pacific. But I’m actually in the camp that believes that we can manage this relationship in a way that is – that brings greater stability not greater instability.
As far as Russia goes – and I know he said some other things about the nuclear stockpile and so forth – I mean, again, this is a – this is a case where we have contact with Russia; my Russian counterpart is coming to see me in July. And there’s – there are more things we agree with – agree about than – there are some prominent things we disagree about – ballistic missile defense, as you know, probably chief among them.
But these – this is the kind of conversation we need to have. And I think there’s more opportunity in both of those relationships at this point than there is liability, and I – because as great powers themselves, they also have to understand this complex, strategic, more competitive environment. And I think there’s a lot of opportunities for us to work together on things like international terrorism, trans-national organized crime, border issues, piracy. And we’re doing a lot of that already, as you know.
Q: Sir, my name is Ken Teske. I’m one of your Joint Staff South support contractors for FGM, Incorporated. You just mentioned my prime topic, which was: What do you view the military’s role in CTOG or counter-transnational organized crime?
GEN. DEMPSEY: I try not to ever speak for one of the service chiefs or any particular instrument. You know, my – I’m the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So I actually don’t – I really don’t, although every once in a while I’ll slip into Armyspeak because I wore that – I’m wearing that uniform. But when I look at any of those threats – any of those security challenges, I – my going-in position is to try to understand how the joint force can contribute.
But I mean, in terms of maritime power, I mean, there’s some things you’ve seen the Navy doing already with the development of the littoral combat ship, just stood up a Coastal and Riverine Command. So I mean, the service chiefs get it, by the way. I guess if you want me to give you something to feel good about, the service chiefs – I mean, they’re really – I don’t know if I was as smart as – I was only there for 149 days actually. But they really have embraced this call to think differently about their future. They kind of understand this 20 percent/80 percent approach. They’re working together in ways that are actually – I find to be very, very encouraging.
You know, the Army is reaching out to – I mean, I’m just telling you that I don’t want to talk about the specifics of the role of sea power in combating transnational organized crime, but it’s there. You probably know that – maybe you don’t – but there are – and by the way, the Coast Guard is a great teammate, in particular in SOUTHCOM and combatting that, you know, 1,500 metric tons of cocaine that manages its way outside of those three countries. So it’s there. But I think the best solutions are always the joint solutions. Nice try, though.
Q: Thank you, sir.
GEN. DEMPSEY: You’re welcome. (Laughter.) Trying to get me on the front page of the Navy Times.
Q: Good morning, General. Doug Swanson with Hewlett-Packard. You mentioned the importance of training the way we fight so that we can operate in a degraded environment. That’s especially important in cyber, and it’s especially challenging because we’re exercising in a domain where we’re actively pursuing real-world threats at the same time that we’re conducting exercises. I was wondering if you could comment on any specific ideas or initiatives that we are pursuing or should be pursuing to ensure that we have that ability to operate in a degraded environment.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, I mean, I think it starts by – we’re involved in a – in a very close analysis now of what we need in terms of cyber capabilities for the military. There’s a broader conversation that needs to be prominent in terms of what it means for the defense of the nation. That’s all ongoing. It’s a close collaboration with FBI, Homeland Security, national security staff. And we’re having that conversation.
Internal to the military, you know, we are assessing whether we would recommend to the SECDEF at some point – have not done so – whether we would recommend that cyber be a unified command as opposed to a sub-unified command. We’re scoping what it takes to do computer network defense, computer network exploitation, computer network attack and trying to decide what role the services have – and of course they do.
And, even more importantly, what would a cyber operations center look like at a combatant command, kind of analogous to the TSOC, the theater special operations command, that are aligned with each of the combatant commands? And then as we do that we – and we’re trying to do this with some urgency so that we can impact the next budget submission for ’14-’18 and grow that capability over time.
Now, you asked about how do we practice that in a – to do that – to then train to that in a degraded environment. I think I’ve got to get the organizational designed fixed, understand the relationships between combatant commanders and these cyberoperations centers, the national center at CYBERCOM. I’ve got to get that relationship fixed before I can start having it help me conduct the kind of training activities you’re talking about. But we’re moving in the right direction, and we’re moving faster than you think.
But – yes, sir?
Q: Hey – (off mic) – hey, good morning, sir. Mark Leder with Deloitte Consulting. In keeping with the joint thread, looking at multinational and then going into the PACOM AOR, how do you see their transition to KORCOM in 2015 within South Korea affecting the PACOM AOR in general, relationship with North Carolina – excuse me, North Korea, China, Russia and then certainly – perhaps a good example of that 20 percent re: the change and then the 80 percent re: missioning?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah, so first of all, just as recently as early this week General Thurman and I had a conversation about OPCOM transfer 2015. It’s moving along. You know, this year, as you know, we have Ulchi Focus Guardian, big exercise every summer. This year it’s based on CONPLAN 5027. Next year it’ll be on CONPLAN 5015. So even next year, we will be exercising the ability of the Republic of Korea to manage its security challenges on the peninsula against a number of scenarios. So that’s actually – that’s actually encouraging.
I don’t know that we’ve got the KORCOM, the Korea command structure, exactly right. And we’ve asked J.D. Thurman, you know, to – during his tenure here to take a look at this year’s Ulchi Focus Guardian, and importantly next year’s – because don’t forget, he’s also got – as the U.S. commander in Korea, he’s also the United Nations’ command responsible for the armistice. So if the armistice is still there he – there will be residual responsibilities. And he’s combined forces command in addition to being U.S. forces command.
So clearly what we want to do is continue on the path to accomplish OPCOM transfer in 2015. But I don’t think we’ve got our piece of the Korean Command organized exactly right. And we’ve asked the commander there to roll back in on this with – after he makes this assessment. Did that help?
Q: Yes, sir.
GEN. DEMPSEY: OK. One more.
Q: Good morning, General Dempsey. Sam Stevens, Coast Guard. Thank you, sir, for your call out of the Coast Guard earlier as the smallest of the fifth armed services.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Semper Paratus.
Q: Thank you, sir. It’s always pleasing to hear. Interested in your characterization and exploring that seam – inflection point of homeland security, homeland defense a little bit more, already alluded to at the CTOG, CTCO organization question. With perhaps a less requirements overseas than the last decade, do you see – do you see a transition of the joint force incurring or moving toward a – more of the homeland security-type mission in more support of that continuum as the pendulum goes back and forth, sir?
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. I may not entirely hit that question exactly where you intended me to hit it. But I will tell you this, in the most recent strategic seminar – I told you about these seminars where we bring together combatant commanders and service chiefs – the most recent scenario was one where we assumed a conflict someplace and we flowed the forces required to that conflict. And then we assessed – we created a scenario where the homeland was attacked. And there’s – or even if it wasn’t attacked, where there might have been some natural disaster.
But the point is, the homeland placed a demand on the force. And it was – it was quite remarkable. I mean, it was a – it was a great exercise because we realized that the assumption is always that – generally speaking, the assumption is that there’s – we have – that the force is resilient enough, it’s large enough that there’s always something at home adequate – and, you know, that’s Guard, Reserve and active – there’s always enough at home to deal with whatever happens, even while we’re fighting conflict elsewhere.
We might have to challenge that assumption – not broadly, but in terms of specific capabilities. And so, as a result of that – of that exercise, the commander of NORTHCOM has been tasked now to – in collaboration with Homeland Security, FBI and the other agencies – to take a look at, you know, would there ever be a point at which we didn’t flow a piece of the force because we now know that any regional conflict actually will impact on the homeland.
We haven’t had that conversation about whether we would ever reach the point where we would deliberately not flow a piece of the force because it might be needed at home. We need to have that conversation. And then we need to understand what are the – I mean, some of this is work that’s already done. You know, we have – we have a pretty clear idea of what it takes to protect the sovereign airspace. We have a pretty good idea of what we think we need in chemical, biological, radiologic and the nuclear. And that’s kind of organized regionally.
But I think there’s work yet to be done. And so to your point, I do think that this new strategy, this new threat environment I’ve described does require us to take a different look at how we integrate our actions and activities with homeland defense, FBI – I mean, all the agencies of government that have an impact.
And they’ve – and, you know, they’ve all got authorities. They’ve all got – I mean, we become much more effective as a security apparatus when we – when we have the ability to bundle our authorities – not take everybody’s authorities. That’s the reputation; oh, you’re trying to get my authority. No, I’m not. I just want to partner with you so that we can use the appropriate tool in the toolkit.
MR. : General Dempsey, on behalf of the U.S. Naval Institute and AFCEA International and the Joint Warfighting Conference 2012, thank you very much, sir, for your very insightful remarks, your vision on the way ahead and really the intellectual capital challenge that you put to every member in this room and those who work with them and for them to help you with Joint Force 2020. We thank you very much.
We have a small token of appreciation, and that is a book, “Joe Rochefort’s War.” As you take a look at the odyssey of the code breaker who outwitted Yamamoto at Midway. And that – as we know, you’re a voracious reader, and hopefully you will enjoy that, sir.
GEN. DEMPSEY: Thanks very much. That’s great. Thank you. (Applause.)