|By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity|
|Federal Information & News Dispatch, Inc.|
The chairman's speech brought to mind the expression "To the man whose only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." Dempsey said
The general spoke about the greater implications of the global security environment and how it requires
The U.S. military is the most powerful, versatile and sophisticated in history, the chairman said. "It is also one of the most flexible and adaptable tools that our nation has at its disposal and available to our elected leaders," he added. "It has to be to address the complex world in which we live."
Mere military presence can shape behavior, the general noted, pointing out that a waiting American military presence can bolster diplomatic initiatives, provide support to partners and allies and deter potential adversaries. The U.S. military can share intelligence, sustain reconnaissance and provide security, he said, and American service members can and do bring relief to disaster areas and provide humanitarian supplies across continents.
The military can do a lot, and it sometimes is the default option for leaders, especially if something needs to be done quickly, Dempsey said.
The chairman said his job is to give civilian elected leaders military options. "I must articulate how our military instrument can be used to provide options and to achieve outcomes that support and protect our nation's interests," he explained. "More specifically, I must be clear about what effects our military can and cannot achieve. I must represent how fast we can do it, for how long, at what risk and with what opportunity costs."
And this can't be done in a vacuum, he added. "I must also consider how our military action or inaction contributes to or detracts from another important instrument of our national power, and that is America's enormous power of emulation," he said.
Dempsey touched on the geographic differences he must consider. In the
Conventional military power will be important in the
Using conventional military power in that environment rarely yields expected results, the chairman noted. "Finding ways to deal with this paradox is one of the many challenges before us," he said.
Continuing the nautical metaphor, the chairman said
Terrorism, extremist groups and crime syndicates threaten stability, he said. Added to this is cyber, which Dempsey called "the fastest growing, least understood and potentially the most perilous factor that connects us all."
"We must understand how this affects all our instruments of power," he said.
Given all this, the chairman told the audience, the military exists to provide options, and those options fall into two categories: insurance and assurance.
The military is America's insurance policy, the nation's top military officer said. "Our most fundamental task is to protect the homeland and our citizens," he added. "We keep the nation immune from coercion."
The U.S. military must be prepared to take direct combat action at any time, in any place, against any adversary, Dempsey said. "Our adversaries rightly fear our dominance in the air, on the ground and from the sea," he added. "When all our options remain on the table, our ability to change the course of events is indisputably superior to any other nation."
The U.S. military also assures allies, he said, as the presence of U.S. service members provides reassurance to allies and deters enemies.
It's in this second category -- assurance -- where most of the challenges reside today, the general said.
In the last month, Dempsey has visited
"Frankly, our ability to provide this assurance is at risk, due to a growing deficit between supply and demand," the chairman added. "Each action comes with greater opportunity costs -- that is the trade-off of some other action somewhere else due to constrained resources. Each choice requires us to assess and accept increasing risks with eyes wide open. This supply/demand imbalance demands that we bring our military instrument of power back into balance with itself."
The U.S. military will get smaller, Dempsey said, but it is important it become more agile, more lethal and balanced.
"We want to become more predictable to allies, more confusing to adversaries," he said.
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