Gen. Dempsey's Interview on CBS This Morning
As Delivered by General Martin E. Dempsey , Washington, D.C. Monday, May 28, 2012
ERICA HILL: With us now from the Pentagon is General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, America`s highest ranking military officer, also the President`s top military adviser.
General, good morning. Thanks for being with us today. When you look at Syria, what is the bar for the U.S. and for the international community?
GEN. MARTIN DEMPSEY (Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff): Well, first, let me wish you a happy Memorial Day. And-- and I`m going to encourage you to come back around and make sure you give me a chance to explain what that means. But, what does Syria mean? Syria is-- the-- the events in Syria over the weekend are just horrific, atrocious really. I expect that the-- that the international community, that pressure will mount. I think diplomatic pressure should always proceed any discussions about military options. And that`s my job by the way is options, not policy. And so we`ll-- we`ll be prepared to provide options if asked to do so.
HILL: But in terms of those options, will anything short of military action make a real impact there?
DEMPSEY: Well, you know, that`s-- that`s always a question. I mean we`re asking ourselves the same question vis-a-vis Iran right now. And-- and I don`t know whether-- whether in Syria`s particular case, a combination of economic and diplomatic measures will achieve that. But I certainly encourage our leaders-- the leaders of-- the international leaders to-- to take that course and to try to come together in a way that would-- that would cause Assad to-- to make the right decision.
GAYLE KING: I want to get your reaction now to some news we heard in Afghanistan over the weekend, that a NATO strike there killed eight civilians. What can you tell us about that?
DEMPSEY: Well, I can tell you that that investigation is ongoing. And that I was in touch with our military leaders in Afghanistan on this issue over the weekend. To this point we have not been able to determine. There is more evidence to suggest that it did not occur at this point but the investigation`s not done yet.
KING: We-- we want to circle back to what you said at the beginning. It`s always hard to say, I think, happy Memorial Day, because we`re really honoring, paying tribute, remembering soldiers who have lost their lives for our country. What would you like us to remember? What would you like us to do on this day?
DEMPSEY: Well, you know, very few families in America have had the-- the tragedy of being handed a folded flag--
DEMPSEY: --as they bury their loved ones--
KING: Yes. Yes.
DEMPSEY: --who`s been lost serving their country. And so I just want to make sure we-- we focus on what the day means. And what it means to me is that, you know, some of us live this every day with our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, coastguardsmen and their families, but everybody America should live it on this day. Everybody should remember just what we`re celebrating, what we`re memorializing and--
DEMPSEY: --because-- those sacrifices have made us who and what we are.
HILL: That dedication, that service continues long after many of these veterans have come home. There`s a report from the AP this morning that more vets from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are filing for disability benefits than ever before. Are we doing enough to help those who served?
DEMPSEY: You know the answer to that is actually easy. No, we`re not doing enough. We`re-- we`re working hard to try to understand-- you know, this is now, I think-- I mean there may be some historian out there that would take me to task, but it`s certainly feels like the longest war we`ve ever-- we`ve ever been experienced it in our history. We`re-- we`re fighting it with an all-volunteer force that`s performed magnificently. But we`ve asked them to deploy and redeploy on-- on a cyclic basis, very common for young men and women to have three, four, five tours. And I think we`re learning about the effects of-- of conflict that--- that`s protracted on the human dimension. And as we learn we adjust.
HILL: General Dempsey, thanks for your time this morning.
DEMPSEY: Thank you.
KING: Thank you.