Mullen warn­ing

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

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.

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