Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued annual guidance to the military last week, warning against allowing an already “tired” U.S. military to degrade into a wornout “hollow” force.
Adm. Mullen devoted a significant part of the six-page guidance — after first addressing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Iran’s nuclear arms program — to emphasizing the care and maintenance of U.S. military forces.
“The country faces mounting deficits and growing debt,” Adm. Mullen stated. “That will require difficult budget decisions for our government. As we carry out our assigned missions and reset a tired force, we must guard against growing hollow. The quality of the force remains paramount.”
The comments echoed an earlier debate over the Clinton administration’s use of the military for peacekeeping and nontraditional missions, a role critics in the 1990s said had led to military forces becoming “hollow.”
Adm. Mullen stated that he is concerned “that the pace of operations prevents us from training for the entire range of war and erodes our ability to counter future threats.”
“Current operations place at risk our ability to generate additional ground forces for another contingency, should one arise,” he said.
The comments suggest the chairman may not agree completely with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who in the latest defense budget sought to refocus U.S. forces on counterinsurgency warfare rather than on potential future conflicts against states such as North Korea, China or Iran.
Adm. Mullen said the military needs to properly balance global strategic risks and not focus too much on the current wars. “Geographically that means understanding the criticality of the Pacific Rim, of Africa and our own hemisphere,” he said, noting that it included monitoring the spread of technology that could “empower new threats.”
The guidance, dated Dec. 21, outlines Adm. Mullen’s priorities and strategic objectives in 2010 and is intended to direct the efforts of the Joint Staff.
Echoing the Obama administration’s focus on climate change, Adm. Mullen also stated that tensions are growing among nations over energy, water and other resources, and he noted that “climate change and environmental degradation increase these tensions, putting pressure on vulnerable populations while changing our operating space, in the Arctic and elsewhere.”
Adm. Mullen said the military implications of the changing global environment are not understood and must be studied closely “to be ready.” to provide 855,000 pounds of food to U.S. forces and government workers in Afghanistan and Iraq for the Christmas holiday.
Troops in Afghanistan were to feast on 42,360 pounds of darkmeat turkey (just 2,832 pounds of white meat), 22,950 pounds of ham, 113,462 pounds of beef and 21,168 pounds of shrimp. Trimmings included 12,348 pounds of stuffing mix along with 23,814 pounds of potatoes, 3,529 cans of sweet potatoes, 1,764 cans of cranberry sauce and 45,706 pounds of vegetables. For dessert, there were 24,720 pies and 2,824 cakes. The total weight of the food is 366,281 pounds.
Troops in Iraq were to get 66,960 pounds of white-meat turkey along with 67,440 pounds of dark meat, 60,780 pounds of ham, 23,954 pounds of beef and 35,280 pounds of shrimp. Side dishes included 20,580 pounds of stuffing mix, 38,200 pounds of potatoes, 8,814 cans of sweet potatoes, 58,931 pounds of vegetables and 4,410 cans of cranberry sauce. Christmas dessert came from 24,906 pies and 15,464 cakes. Total weight is 488,747 pounds.
A DLA spokeswoman said the food was supplied from contractors in the United States, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
“It is important that we continue to provide outstanding meals to our troops every single day,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. Scott D. Chambers, commander of the DLA Philadelphia field activity, in a statement outlining this year’s holiday food totals. The Philadelphia office is responsible for providing food to U.S. military personnel stationed throughout the world. “When it comes to the holidays, DLA personnel take special pride to make sure every deployed service member will dine on a traditional meal, bringing a bit of home to warfighters,” he said.
The agency has been preparing for the Christmas meals since April.
Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is concerned about a “tired” militar y.