Trust Keeps Troops, Communities Together, Dempsey Says
By Tyrone C. Marshall, Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON March 12, 2013 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff delivered a message here yesterday of the trust that bonds troops and brings those in uniform and their communities together.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey spoke to an audience at the National League of Cities Congressional Cities Conference about how important trust is among service members and between them and their communities.
"Trust is what binds together those who serve," he said. "But I would also suggest to you today it's what binds us together -- those that wear the uniform and those of you that serve in your communities."
The chairman presented a slide of an Army staff sergeant and one of his comrades serving in Afghanistan, with a subtitle of trust to emphasize his point.
"You'll see that someone is watching his flank, and that's another soldier," Dempsey said. "And that squad leader ... doesn't have to worry about what's happening on that side, because he knows that he has a soldier on that side that's taking care of him, and vice versa. These two men have such trust in each other that they don't worry about what's going on around them. They can concentrate on their job, because they know that they are part of a team.".
The chairman pointed out several things in the photograph and shared his thoughts of what these symbolic things meant to him, such as the soldier using a communication microphone. He has the receiver in his hand, Dempsey said, and he's calling for something -- perhaps medical support, evacuation or logistics.
The general paused to note that in 39 years of service, he has traveled around the world, and met dozens of his counterparts from every nation.
"What that guy needs, what he's calling for -- he's going to get it," the chairman said. "And he's going to get it because the people of the United States have made a commitment that when they send that young man into harm's way, he will be the best-trained, best-equipped and best-led [military member] on the planet."
That must be the imperative going forward, Dempsey said, as officials work through budget challenges.
"We can't ever forget that if we're going to ask some young man or women from your communities, from my military, to go out and do that kind of work, we have to support them," he said.
And that's not just an option, Dempsey said, because the trust he described is essential.
The chairman lauded community leaders for embracing veterans as they return to their communities following military service, and said that part of the bond of trust runs from the battlefield "back to the institution of the military, and it runs out into your communities."
"The veterans that come back, I believe, can become an enormous resource for your communities as they bring back those skills of courage, commitment, discipline and strength," Dempsey said.
"And [they] can be part of your communities in a very extraordinary way," he said. "They already are this 'next generation' of great Americans, and with your help, they'll be even greater."