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Mullen warns of strain on armed forces

The nation's top military officer told an Army audience Wednesday that the United States is only beginning to confront the strain that a decade of war has placed on its armed forces, warning that post-traumatic stress, suicides and unemployment are likely to persist among veterans for years to come.

"I believe what we can see today is truly just the tip of the iceberg, with consequences for our military and veteran health-care system, our national employment rate and even homelessness," Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Association of the U.S. Army's national convention in Washington.

A rapid drawdown from Iraq this year, followed by an expected withdrawal of at least some troops from Afghanistan next summer, will finally give the Army a chance to rest by increasing the amount of time units can spend at home. While Mullen welcomed those prospects, he said that the accumulated stresses and strains on the military will become only more apparent as troops return.

"The greatest challenges returning soldiers now face are much closer to home," he said. "Family issues, financial problems, [post traumatic stress], even the threat of suicide will be more likely to confront soldiers off duty...when they are away from the structure and leadership they have become accustomed to."

"We are, quite frankly, just beginning to see these problems emerge as dwell time increases."

In emphasizing the long-term challenges and risks to the health of the armed forces, Mullen spent comparatively little time addressing the immediate challenge facing the military: its war against the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other insurgents in Afghanistan.

"We are seeing progress in Afghanistan. Slow and uneven in places, but progress nonetheless," he said in his prepared remarks. "There are, to be sure, real challenges ahead and real difficulties to overcome. No one is underestimating them."

His prepared remarks follow.

THANK YOU GENERAL SULLIVAN FOR YOUR KIND WORDS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, FOR YOUR MENTORSHIP AND ADVICE OVER THE MANY YEARS WE'VE KNOWN EACH OTHER.

I WOULD BE REMISS IF I DID NOT ALSO THANK YOU FOR THE SERVICE OF YOUR ELDEST SON RETIRED NAVY MASTER CHIEF JOHN SULLIVAN ...

I AM NOT SURE WHY JOHN CHOSE THE NAVY OVER THE ARMY, BUT AS YOU CAN SEE, IT CAN HAPPEN IN THE BEST OF FAMILIES ...

BUT THIS REALLY DEMONSTRATES HOW WE ARE ALL CONNECTED REGARDLESS OF THE UNIFORM WE WEAR, AND I THANK GORDON AND GAY FOR SHARING THEIR SON FOR MORE THAN TWO DECADES OF SERVICE.

IT IS ALSO AN HONOR TO BE HERE TODAY WITH ALL OF YOU.

IN FACT, LOOKING AT THE OUTSTANDING ARMY LEADERSHIP IN THE AUDIENCE TODAY, I NOW UNDERSTAND WHY I COULDN'T GET ANY CALLS RETURNED FROM THE ARMY STAFF THIS WEEK ...

I WAS WORRIED THAT FOLKS MIGHT STILL BE HOLDING A GRUDGE ABOUT LAST YEAR'S ARMY-NAVY GAME ...
OR THE ONE BEFORE THAT ...
OR THE ONE BEFORE THAT ...

THE TRUTH IS, IN MY JOB, I ROOT FOR ALL OF OUR SERVICE ACADEMIES ...
AND IN SOME WAYS, MY WIFE, DEBORAH, AND I HAVE BECOME CLOSER TO THE ARMY THAN THE NAVY ... AS WE HAVE WORKED HARD TO UNDERSTAND OUR SOLDIERS AND THE DEMANDS PLACED ON THEM AND THEIR FAMILIES.

IN FACT, OVER THE LAST THREE YEARS, ONE OF THE GREAT PRIVILEGES OF BEING CHAIRMAN HAS BEEN GETTING TO KNOW THE GREAT WOMEN AND MEN OF THE UNITED STATES ARMY.

AND TWO YEARS AGO, I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY TO SHARE WITH THIS VERY AUDIENCE WHAT I HAD LEARNED FROM THE ARMY, AND TODAY, I HOPE TO SHARE MORE WITH YOU, BECAUSE LET'S FACE IT, I AM STILL LEARNING ...


FIRST, LET ME START WITH A CONCLUSION FROM FIVE YEARS AGO THAT REMAINS UNCHANGED:

THE ARMY (AND THE MARINE CORPS) - AND THAT INCLUDES THE GUARD, THE RESERVES AND OUR INCREDIBLE FAMILIES - IS THE CENTER OF GRAVITY FOR OUR MILITARY.

YET BACK IN OCTOBER 2008 WHEN WE LAST SPOKE TOGETHER, WE HAD ONLY JUST BEGUN TO SEE "A CLEARING IN THE DISTANCE" IN IRAQ.

THE ARMY (AND THE MARINE CORPS) HAD SHOWN ENORMOUS ADAPTABILITY - AND COURAGE - AND HAD BECOME THE BEST COUNTERINSURGENCY FORCE IN THE WORLD - ALL IN JUST 30 MONTHS.

AND OUR GROUND FORCES' SERVICE, THEIR SACRIFICE, AND THEIR AMAZING ABILITY TO TRANSFORM ... ALLOWED US TO SET THE STAGE FOR SUCCESS IN IRAQ ...
AND PROVIDED US THE OPPORTUNITY AND POTENTIAL TO SUCCEED IN AFGHANISTAN ...

TODAY, OUR MISSION IN IRAQ IS TRANSITIONING SUCCESSFULLY AND WE ARE SEEING PROGRESS IN AFGHANISTAN ... SLOW AND UNEVEN IN PLACES, BUT PROGRESS NONETHELESS.

THERE ARE, TO BE SURE, REAL CHALLENGES AHEAD AND REAL DIFFICULTIES TO OVERCOME. NO ONE IS UNDERESTIMATING THEM.

BUT I CAN TELL YOU, WE HAVE THE STRATEGY RIGHT. WE HAVE THE RIGHT RESOURCES IN PLACE AND WE HAVE THE RIGHT LEADERS IN CHARGE.

AND WE ARE COMMITTED TO SUCCESS.
QUITE SIMPLY, OUR SOLDIERS HAVE DONE HEROIC WORK ... AND I BELIEVE WE WILL MEET OUR OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES IN BOTH IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN.

I STAND IN AWE OF WHAT THE UNITED STATES ARMY HAS ACCOMPLISHED ... AND I PROUDLY SALUTE OUR SOLDIERS AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR THEIR HISTORIC SERVICE AND ACHIEVEMENT.

AND WE WILL NOT FORGET THE MORE THAN 4,000 SOLDIERS WHO HAVE GIVEN THEIR LIVES IN SERVICE TO OUR NATION ... AND THEIR FAMILIES.

BUT AS WE HONOR THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS AND SACRIFICES, I COME HERE WITH A WARNING:

THIS DECADE OF PERSISTENT CONFLICT HAS HAD AN IMPACT THAT WE ARE JUST BEGINNING TO COME TO TERMS WITH ... AN IMPACT OF UNTOLD COSTS AND AN UNDETERMINED TOLL.
AND I BELIEVE WHAT WE CAN SEE TODAY IS TRULY JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG ...
WITH CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR MILITARY AND VETERAN HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, OUR NATIONAL EMPLOYMENT RATE, AND EVEN HOMELESSNESS.

BOTH GENERALS CASEY AND CHIARELLI HAVE SPOKEN ELOQUENTLY OF THE IMPACT THAT A DECADE OF COMBAT HAS HAD ON OUR SOLDIERS.

THE MULTIPLE DEPLOYMENTS WITH LITTLE REST IN BETWEEN ... THE LOSS ... THE TOLL ON FAMILIES ... INCLUDING CHILDREN WHO HAVE HAD THEIR FATHERS AND MOTHERS GONE FOR LITERALLY HALF OF THEIR LIVES.

AND THERE ARE MANY SOLDIERS AND VETERANS COMING HOME FOR WHOM THE BATTLE HASN'T ENDED.

FOR MANY, IT'S JUST THE BEGINNING.
THEY FACE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL INJURIES ... ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION ...
CHANGING FAMILY DYNAMICS ...
AND THE EXTRAORDINARY CHALLENGES OF POST TRAUMATIC STRESS.

AS WE CONSIDER HOW WE WILL CARE FOR OUR RETURNING WARRIORS AND THE IMPACT THIS WILL HAVE ON AMERICA ... THERE ARE ALSO CONSEQUENCES FOR OUR ARMY'S FUTURE IN THIS SECOND DECADE OF THE POST 9/11 ERA ...
CONSEQUENCES WE NEED TO THINK ABOUT.

FIRST, AS THE PROSPECTS FOR SMALLER PRESENCE IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN TAKE FORM, WE EXPECT TO SEE MORE STABLE DWELL TIMES FOR OUR TROOPS.

THIS IS A POSITIVE TREND, BUT UNLIKE COMBAT, WHERE DANGER WAS LARGELY "ON PATROL AND OUTSIDE THE WIRE," THE GREATEST CHALLENGES RETURNING SOLDIERS NOW FACE ARE MUCH CLOSER TO HOME.

FAMILY ISSUES, FINANCIAL PROBLEMS, PTS, EVEN THE THREAT OF SUICIDE WILL BE MORE LIKELY TO CONFRONT SOLDIERS OFF-DUTY VICE ON ...
WHEN THEY ARE AWAY FROM THE STRUCTURE AND LEADERSHIP THEY HAVE BECOME ACCUSTOMED TO.

WE ARE, QUITE FRANKLY, JUST BEGINNING TO SEE THESE PROBLEMS EMERGE AS DWELL TIME INCREASES.


SUICIDE IN PARTICULAR, IS A CHALLENGE THAT I KNOW OUR LEADERSHIP IS DEEPLY COMMITTED TO ADDRESSING, BUT WE HAVE NOT COME CLOSE TO SOLVING.

MAJOR GENERAL PHIL VOLPE, CO-CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE TASK FORCE ON SUICIDE PREVENTION, HAS BEEN WORKING THIS ISSUE VERY HARD AND SHARES SOME OF THE CHALLENGES.

HE REFLECTED,

"WE NEED TO ATTACK THE STIGMA. YOU CAN BE THE BEST WARRIOR IN THE WORLD BUT YOU'RE STILL A HUMAN BEING. AND CALLING IN FOR HELP IS NO DIFFERENT THAN IF YOU CALL IN FOR HELP FOR OTHER REASONS."


PHIL'S OBSERVATIONS ABOUT ATTACKING THE STIGMA APPLY EQUALLY TO OUR EFFORTS TO TREAT PTS AMONG BOTH OUR SOLDIERS AND OUR VETERANS ... FOR WE HAVE LEARNED THAT THE EARLIER WE TREAT PTS, THE BETTER THE PROSPECTS ARE FOR THOSE SUFFERING FROM THIS CONFLICT'S SIGNATURE WOUND.

ANOTHER THING WE'VE LEARNED IS THAT IT IS CRITICAL TO START BUILDING RESILIENCE IN OUR SOLDIERS FROM DAY ONE IN BASIC TRAINING.

THE ARMY IS RESPONDING HERE WITH A COMMITMENT TO COMPREHENSIVE SOLDIER FITNESS, A PROGRAM LED BY BRIGADIER GENERAL RHONDA CORNUM, HERSELF A P.O.W. FROM THE FIRST IRAQ WAR.

RHONDA TELLS US THAT WE NEED TO TEACH SOLDIERS PSYCHOLOGICAL FITNESS SKILLS ... JUST AS SURELY AS WE TEACH THEM TO MARCH, WEAR A UNIFORM, OR FIRE A WEAPON.

THIS PROFOUND OPERATIONAL SHIFT WILL ALSO REQUIRE A RENEWAL IN ENGAGED, FOCUSED, AND IN SOME CASES, INTRUSIVE LEADERSHIP ...
OR AS SOME OF YOU IN THE AUDIENCE MAY REMEMBER, GOOD OLD-FASHIONED GARRISON LEADERSHIP.

FOR WE HAVE CREATED A GENERATION OF SOLDIERS ... TESTED TO THE EXTREME ... WANTING TO BE TESTED AGAIN ...
HOW DO WE KEEP THEIR ADRENALINE PUMPING?
HOW DO WE KEEP THEM ENGAGED CONSTRUCTIVELY?
HOW DO WE SUSTAIN EXCELLENCE AS THEY TRANSITION AWAY FROM COMBAT?
GENERAL CASEY HAS BEEN OUT FRONT ON THIS ISSUE AND WE BOTH EXPECT OUR MORE SEASONED ARMY LEADERSHIP - THOSE WHO REMEMBER WHEN STRONG LEADERSHIP IN THE GARRISON WAS A WAY OF LIFE - TO TEACH OUR YOUNGER LEADERS THAT WE ARE ALL ACCOUNTABLE FOR OUR SOLDIERS WELL-BEING ...
WHETHER THOSE YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN ARE ON DUTY OR NOT.

WE ALSO NEED TO BE MINDFUL THAT FOR OUR YOUNG OFFICERS AND NCOS WHO HAVE KNOWN NOTHING BUT THE POST-9/11 EXPEDITIONARY MINDSET ...
THEY HAVEN'T BEEN HOME ENOUGH TO EXPERIENCE THE DIFFERENT ... BUT NO LESS PERSISTENT ... LEADERSHIP DEMANDS OF THE HOMEFRONT.


ULTIMATELY, OUR E-8s AND OUR E-9s, AS THEY HAVE SO MANY TIMES BEFORE, WILL NEED TO LEAD THE WAY HERE.

OUR LEADERS WILL ALSO BE CONCENTRATING ON MAINTAINING OUR ARMY'S COMBAT EDGE AND FULL SPECTRUM CAPABILITY ... AND GIVEN THE DEMANDS OF THE LAST DECADE, WORK AND TRAINING REMAINS FOR ALL OF US AS WE REFRESH OLD COMPETENCIES THAT WE HAVE NOT USED AS PREVALENTLY.

FOR ASIDE FROM THE HUMAN AND FISCAL COST OF THIS DECADE'S CONFLICTS, THERE HAS BEEN AN OPERATIONAL OPPORTUNITY COST.

THERE ARE TASKS WE AREN'T ABLE TO DO ANYMORE ... MISSIONS THAT WE HAVEN'T TRAINED FOR ... BECAUSE WE ARE SO HEAVILY ENGAGED.

ACROSS OUR ARMED FORCES, I WORRY ABOUT YOUNG MARINES WHO HAVE NEVER DEPLOYED ABOARD SHIPS ... ARTILLERY OFFICERS WHO HAVEN'T FIRED A GUN IN YEARS ... FIGHTER PILOTS WHO HAVE NOT HONED THEIR AIR-TO-AIR SKILLS.

WE CAN ALSO LEARN FROM OTHER NATIONS THAT ARE MAKING THIS TRANSITION AHEAD OF US.

AS THE DUTCH CONCLUDE THEIR COMBAT MISSION IN AFGHANISTAN THIS AUGUST AND THE CANADIANS CONCLUDE THEIRS NEXT YEAR ...
WE WOULD BE WISE TO WATCH THOSE COUNTRIES CLOSELY FOR ISSUES AND TRENDS THAT MAY IMPACT OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN AS WELL.


BOTH HAVE BEEN FORWARD LEANING IN THEIR EFFORTS TO RESPOND TO THE EMERGING NEEDS OF THEIR RETURNING WARRIORS AS THEY ADJUST TO WHAT SOME HAVE CALLED THE "POST-AFGHANISTAN REALITY."

ALL TOLD THIS EFFORT WILL BE ABOUT SETTING STANDARDS, ACCOUNTABILITY, ESTABLISHING A LEVEL OF KNOWLEDGE, IN A WORD: LEADERSHIP.

AND THROUGH THIS DECADE OF CONFLICT, AN INCREDIBLE GROUP OF YOUNG, COMBAT-HARDENED LEADERS HAS INDEED EMERGED.

BUT WHAT ARE WE DOING TO KEEP OUR BEST?

HOW DO WE KNOW WE ARE KEEPING THEM?


THERE HAS BEEN MUCH MADE OF A RECENT ARTICLE WRITTEN BY RENNIE MCPHERSON, A YOUNG MARINE CORPS OFFICER, WHO SERVED IN ANBAR PROVINCE AND NOW ATTENDS HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL.

HE NOTED THAT OF HIS 30 VETERAN CLASSMATES HE HAS AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL, ONLY ONE IS RETURNING TO ACTIVE DUTY.

RENNIE ASKS - WHERE WILL WE FIND OUR NEXT PETRAEUS?

NOW THE ARMY IS ONE OF THE MOST RESILIENT INSTITUTIONS IN OUR NATION ...
WITH A DEEP BENCH OF TALENT AND LEADERSHIP ... BUT WE WOULD BE FOOLISH NOT TO THINK ABOUT HOW WE FOSTER, DEVELOP, AND RETAIN OUR BEST.


AND IT'S NOT THE GENERALS I AM WORRIED ABOUT, IT'S THE MAJORS AND CAPTAINS, THE SERGEANT MAJORS AND FIRST SERGEANTS WHO WILL BE ESSENTIAL TO PROVIDING THE LEADERSHIP OUR TROOPS WILL DEEPLY NEED OVER THE NEXT DECADE.

OUR YOUNG LEADERS WILL BE ESSENTIAL ...
FOR THE CARE OF OUR SOLDIERS ...
THE FUTURE OF OUR ARMY AND ...
ULTIMATELY, I BELIEVE, THE DIRECTION OF OUR COUNTRY.

FINALLY, LET ME SHARE A FEW THOUGHTS ON OUR VETERANS.

THEY ARE THE MOST POWERFUL RECRUITING TOOL WE HAVE.

AS A SOCIETY, IF WE HONOR THEIR COMMITMENT TO US WITH OUR OWN, THE NEXT GENERATION OF YOUNG WARRIORS WILL BE SURE TO FOLLOW.

YET WE NEED TO APPRECIATE THAT THEIR NEEDS ARE INTERCONNECTING AND COMPREHENSIVE, FOR OUR RETURNING WARRIORS, THEIR FAMILIES, AND THE FAMILIES OF THE FALLEN NEED EDUCATION ... PROPER HEALTHCARE ... AND THEY NEED JOBS.

SOME VETERANS ARE ALREADY HAVING A HARD TIME TRANSLATING THEIR MILITARY EXPERIENCE AND TALENTS INTO VIABLE JOBS WHEN THEY TRANSITION OUT OF THE SERVICE ... A SITUATION MADE EVEN MORE DIFFICULT BY OUR STRUGGLING ECONOMY.

IN THE VIETNAM GENERATION - MY GENERATION - SIMILAR CHALLENGES CONTRIBUTED TO FAR TOO MANY VETERANS FALLING THROUGH THE CRACKS AND RECENT ESTIMATES PLACE OUR HOMELESS VETERAN POPULATION AT ABOVE 100,000.

AND EXPERTS TELL US THAT THERE IS A 5-7 YEAR LATENCY PERIOD FROM DISCHARGE TO HOMELESSNESS - SO THE CLOCK IS ALREADY TICKING FOR TODAY'S WAR VETERANS ...

WE SIMPLY CAN'T AFFORD TO LOSE ANOTHER GENERATION OF VETERANS TO HOMELESSNESS LIKE WE DID IN THE VIETNAM ERA.


WE ALSO CAN'T KID OURSELVES ... AS MUCH AS OUR YOUNG MEN AND WOMEN APPRECIATE THE GESTURES OF KINDNESS WE SEE TODAY IN TRIBUTE TO OUR MILITARY AND OUR VETERANS ... A FREE TICKET TO A FOOTBALL GAME ... OR A PAT ON THE BACK ... WILL NOT SOLVE THEIR PROBLEMS.

SO WHILE I DEEPLY THANK ALL OF YOU FOR THE TREMENDOUS SUPPORT YOU HAVE ALREADY PROVIDED, I CALL ON YOU WHEREVER POSSIBLE TO HIRE OUR RETURNING VETERANS, INCLUDING AND ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE WOUNDED.

RECENTLY, ONE YOUNG VETERAN LOOKED ME IN THE EYE AND SAID, "I GAVE MY COUNTRY 100% AND THAT IS ALL I AM ASKING IN RETURN."

I KNOW THAT BUSINESSES, LIKE ALL OF US, MUST MARSHAL OUR RESOURCES WISELY, PARTICULARLY DURING TOUGH TIMES, BUT WE NEED TO RECOGNIZE OUR VETERANS AND THEIR FAMILIES FOR WHAT THEY ARE--NOT A BURDEN BUT A TREMENDOUS OPPORTUNITY.

THIS IS A GENERATION THAT IS - IN A WAY I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE - WIRED TO CONTRIBUTE AND WIRED TO SERVE.

AND THEY WILL BENEFIT THEIR COMMUNITIES, THEIR NATION, THE WORLD, OVER THE NEXT 40, 50, 60 YEARS IN WAYS AS NO OTHER GENERATION HAS.

SO THESE ARE THE THINGS I HAVE LEARNED, WHAT I HAVE SEEN ... AND I REALIZE I DON'T PAINT A VERY SUNNY PICTURE:

GROWING AND NEEDED COMMITMENTS TO SUPPORT OUR RETURNING WARRIORS ...
NEW DEMANDS ON OUR ARMY...
ALL IN AN ENVIRONMENT OF INCREASINGLY DAUNTING AND CONSTRAINED RESOURCES.

BUT DESPITE ALL THIS, I REMAIN OPTIMISTIC - FOR HISTORY TELLS US THAT OUR ARMY AND OUR NATION HAVE DEALT WITH TOUGHER TIMES.

IN FACT, WHEN AUSA STARTED, THE KOREAN CONFLICT WAS JUST BEGINNING.


JUST FIVE YEARS AFTER WORLD WAR II, THE GREATEST FIGHTING FORCE THE WORLD HAD EVER KNOWN HAD DISSIPATED, THE AMERICAN PEOPLE HAD TIRED OF WAR, AND OUR ARMED FORCES STRUGGLED DURING THE EARLY PHASES OF A NEW KIND OF WAR ... A COLD WAR.

DURING THAT CONFLICT, GENERAL OMAR BRADLEY SERVED AS OUR VERY FIRST CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF.

EVERYDAY, I PASS BY A CORRIDOR IN THE PENTAGON THAT BEARS HIS NAME AND AM REMINDED OF THE LONG SHADOW THIS GREAT LEADER CASTS FOR ALL OF HIS SUCCESSORS.

BLUNT, PLAIN-SPOKEN, BUT DEEPLY INTELLIGENT, GENERAL BRADLEY ONCE REMARKED, "WE NEED TO LEARN TO SET OUR COURSE BY THE STARS, NOT BY THE LIGHT OF EVERY PASSING SHIP."

NOW, THIS ADVICE MAY SEEM SURPRISINGLY NAUTICAL ... PARTICULARLY COMING FROM ONE OF THE ARMY'S MOST STORIED FIGURES ...
BUT SIX DECADES LATER THE GENERAL'S WORDS ARE UNDENIABLY TRUE AND UNDENIABLY WISE ...

AND DESPITE AN EXTRAORDINARILY TOUGH DECADE, THE ARMY HAS KEPT ITS COURSE STRAIGHT AND TRUE, REMAINING "THE STRENGTH OF OUR NATION" ...
AND I THANK AUSA AND ALL OF YOU HERE TODAY FOR SUPPORTING AND CARING FOR OUR EXTRAORDINARY SOLDIERS AND FAMILIES ALONG THE WAY.

GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU, GOD BLESS OUR SOLDIERS AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND GOD BLESS THE UNITED STATES ARMY.

I LOOK FORWARD TO TAKING YOUR QUESTIONS.

By Craig Whitlock  | October 27, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
 
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Comments

Obama, maybe the next time you take a smoke break you can give some thought to this ussue as opposed to how you can get your socialist agenda passed. You are the commander in chief who gives little thought to his troops. We will remember on election day.

Posted by: gone2dabeachgmailcom | October 27, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

how about the bullying of the teachers that has escalated lately...

now we are being asked to fix what parents should fix.... another responsibility that WE DEAL with each day

do too much we'll sue u, do too little we'll sue you

are hands have been tied

is there end to this entitlement

Posted by: agra09 | October 27, 2010 5:07 PM | Report abuse

Disregarding the ignorance of the above two comments being totally irrelevant to Adm. Mullins comments. What is needed to be immediately put into law is that every American man and woman be required to serve a min. of two years mandatory military service - no exceptions, no drafts, just service to this Country. It is long overdue as the Adm and others - although not enough voice from the DOD, is that this country is abusing the men and women currently in uniform and esp those serving multiple tours of duty in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. With such prolonged service, we are destroying a generation of these men and women both with physical and mental health wounds that for many will never fully recover, for families destroyed due to the repeated service w/o sufficient breaks, high suicide rates, and overall abuse of them when there is an large number of men and women going about their lives w/o regard to those in the military. The draft as we learned from VN is not the answer but mandatory service time as numerous countries throughout the world hold their young men and women responsible for is the solution.

Posted by: davidmswyahoocom | October 27, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Unlike Bush and the GOP generally, Obama and the Democrats, generally, have done much to support the active military and veterans. It's been a welcome breath of fresh air.

Folks like our socialist baiting friend above talk a big game but, like Bush, don't come through.

Posted by: tslats | October 27, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

As a current Army Officer i agree that we are stressed beyond comprehension. However to reply to davidms, a mandatory service would make our fighting force less effective. Your effectively stating that you want to draft every American for 2 years in their life. They will not enjoy this service they will not do it to the best of their ability and will make our superior fighting force weaker. This would lead to even more casualties as we would not be a professional fighting force. Obama has contributed to the military however we as an American society should be caring more and supporting our troops not just in voice but in local and state governments as this is where civilians can make the most difference. There is a large disconnect between society and the military as we are held to a higher standard than most. Society feels separated from our strife and feel they are just sitting on the sidelines cheering. Most want to contribute and help. This i say again can be done in the local communities and governments. Supporting our troops can range from care packages and letters all the way to laws supporting veterans and current military. This will start to relieve the stress that our troops are feeling and get the ball rolling on bigger and better things for the people that serve our country.

Posted by: thinncrispy5488 | October 27, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

If we want to fight wars we must have a draft so that the citizenry gets more involved.
Right now our economy is disintegrating by the war costs and we have become the proverbial monkey slowly being boiled alive.

Posted by: qualquan | October 27, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

The "solution" is very simple: our so-called "leaders" need to just stop sending our troops on useless, pointless missions abroad, as in Iraq and, increasingly plainly, Afghanistan.

And the US needs to stop meddling anywhere and everywhere in the world that some two-bit American politician who wants to score brownie points thinks it would be nice to send US forces.

While US society might "feel separated" from the US-initiated strife abroad, there are good reasons for that...such as, why should US society support actions like the utterly stupid invasion of Iraq? I know very few people who are "just sitting on the sidelines cheering"...more like demanding the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, where we're wasting trillions of dollars and thousands of lives in utter folly.

Posted by: Rigged | October 27, 2010 7:10 PM | Report abuse

That's why we need to bring back the draft. I'm sick of hearing how great our military is because of people who are to chicken-sh.. to say something negative about them. Until we get citizen soldiers back into our armed forces it'll never be on the same caliber as our WW2 military. The people we have in the military, other than who we get from Service Academies, are doing it for the money. Our country's defense should never be left to people in it for the money. The draft would also stop something else - our adventurism like Iraq. No more Fortunate Sons.

Posted by: Dog-1 | October 27, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

I served in VN in the early 70's. Though I was a diligent young officer, I never felt I had put in sufficient time to acquire abundant technical skills. From what I have observed over the past many years, the professional volunteer army is much superior, especially in fighting and destroying the enemy. What it doesn't do well is nation-build. May 2003 was correct, Mission Accomplished. We should have then withdrawn. The problem now is "nation building", both in Iraq and Afganistan. When we do that, we sacrifice our technological superiority and engage our enemies on their 6th century fanatical level. We need to abandon both areas now and if there are threats in the future, fight a real war and destroy our enemies.

Posted by: jibe | October 27, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

I served in VN in the early 70's. Though I was a diligent young officer, I never felt I had put in sufficient time to acquire abundant technical skills. From what I have observed over the past many years, the professional volunteer army is much superior, especially in fighting and destroying the enemy. What it doesn't do well is nation-build. May 2003 was correct, Mission Accomplished. We should have then withdrawn. The problem now is "nation building", both in Iraq and Afganistan. When we do that, we sacrifice our technological superiority and engage our enemies on their 6th century fanatical level. We need to abandon both areas now and if there are threats in the future, fight a real war and destroy our enemies.

Posted by: jibe | October 27, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse


to rigged:

Right to the point.

It is legitimate to fight an enemy when the country is under threat.

But allowing the military-industrial establishment to line their pockets safely at home, while the average Joe has to dodge bullets in illegitimate aggressions and invasions is not only immoral, but ruinous and self-destroying in the long run.

Posted by: benkad | October 28, 2010 4:39 AM | Report abuse

Memo To Admiral Mullen:

Most Americans would agree that our forces are stretched and fatigued. To deal with this most effectively, I suggest that you learn to temper what appears to be the military's penchant for perpetuating foolhardy conflicts like Afghanistan and Iraq, now ten years in the making. Not only have you not/not made a case for ending these fiascos (50,000 US troops remain in Iraq), you continue to argue for staying in Afghanistan -- against all common sense and National Security strategy tenets. There needs to be accountability for these historical misjudgments, and with all due respect, that may as well start with you, and it's a long list after that (if results/ramifications mean anything anymore).

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Posted by: fh7dsafdhasjk | October 28, 2010 9:41 AM | Report abuse

Reinstating an active military enlistment program (draft) brings considerable baggage to be considered both from a military viewpoint and in general societal terms.

As previously noted a volunteer force is considered preferential in terms of basic skills and motivation. In spite of the greatly increased payscale required to attract adequate enlistment, the military seems to have no desire to return to anything resembling its draft-based Vietnam experience.

Issues over exceptions and deferments will need to be revisited. In Vietnam as well as earlier wars, these loopholes were widely contentious in so far as they were viewed as loopholes for the wealthy and well connected to avoid front line service.

Which exceptions and deferments are promulgated will bring into play a host of economic, social, religious and political special interests.

While not entirely new, an issue likely coming to the forefront of a 21st century draft is one of gender. Should women be included?

Today's military is certainly more technical and less in need of "cannon fodder". There is no foreseeable change in this trend. Many and perhaps most positions require more than 6 weeks of basic training. How would the military handle large numbers of unskilled draftees? Turn them away? Offer extended remedial training?

That the WWII draft experience was relatively uncontroversial was a testament to the widespread and CONTINUING public support of the war and its goals. Other wars have all been far more divisive, consequentially the draft has become a flashpoint for civil disobedience and even violence.

In general, issues (enlistment, benefits, long-term support, job scope) raised by Admiral Mullen are ones requiring a political solutions, not military ones. As such, they are issues all Americans should have a voice in. Ramifications and the current unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be a goad for us to understand and reflect on how and why we got to be there and hopefully meaningfully pass on the lessons to the next generation.

Posted by: perigrinor | October 28, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Reinstating an active military enlistment program (draft) brings considerable baggage to be considered both from a military viewpoint and in general societal terms.

As previously noted a volunteer force is considered preferential in terms of basic skills and motivation. In spite of the greatly increased payscale required to attract adequate enlistment, the military seems to have no desire to return to anything resembling its draft-based Vietnam experience.

Issues over exceptions and deferments will need to be revisited. In Vietnam as well as earlier wars, these loopholes were widely contentious in so far as they were viewed as loopholes for the wealthy and well connected to avoid front line service.

Which exceptions and deferments are promulgated will bring into play a host of economic, social, religious and political special interests.

While not entirely new, an issue likely coming to the forefront of a 21st century draft is one of gender. Should women be included?

Today's military is certainly more technical and less in need of "cannon fodder". There is no foreseeable change in this trend. Many and perhaps most positions require more than 6 weeks of basic training. How would the military handle large numbers of unskilled draftees? Turn them away? Offer extended remedial training?

That the WWII draft experience was relatively uncontroversial was a testament to the widespread and CONTINUING public support of the war and its goals. Other wars have all been far more divisive, consequentially the draft has become a flashpoint for civil disobedience and even violence.

In general, issues (enlistment, benefits, long-term support, job scope) raised by Admiral Mullen are ones requiring a political solutions, not military ones. As such, they are issues all Americans should have a voice in. Ramifications and the current unpopularity of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan should be a goad for us to understand and reflect on how and why we got to be there and hopefully meaningfully pass on the lessons to the next generation.

Posted by: perigrinor | October 28, 2010 9:58 AM | Report abuse

A former Marine, I am ashamed of what passes for high military leadership these days. Mullen is a putz who serves Obama well. Perhaps Mullen's greatest moment was when he declared that the US Navy does not know how to fight pirates (it was founded to do just that). To hear him pontificate about the call to service ("wired", I believe) while he supports Obama's ambivalence about the pointless, endless, and budget-busting exercises called Iraq and Afghanistan, makes me sad and furious. As Obama appears on the kiddie networks, joking and pitiable in his cluelessness, Mullen and his ilk refuse to tell the emperor he has no clothes. Mullen will allow these conflicts to drag on, directionless, because he has no real involvement or experience in their horror. He continues to fail in his duties to our fighting men, their families, and to his uniform. He cannot speak truth to power -- in fact, he cannot speak truth to himself. He is a talking puppet who serves at Obama's pleasure, looking toward his pension and the time when he can get rich on the lecture circuit. Where are the Marshalls, Wheelers, and Pattons of today? Not on our JCS, unfortunately.

Posted by: marcnmmi | October 28, 2010 10:10 AM | Report abuse

As a volunteer serving in a draftee army in wartime,,the views of the non servers amuse.Those that go on about the success of the army of today that 1 percent of the population serve in ignore the problems that Mullan stated.The problems ahead will only grow,these days the Airforce and Navy turn away applicants while the army and Marines face most of the danger and the difficulties relating to service.

Posted by: gonville1 | October 28, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Conscription would be unfair. Your population of 500,000 + would never be able to use all those eligible so leaving others uncalled. In any case they would have to be properly trained or would suffer on the battlefield. Why not recall all the overseas troops and use them to safeguard the mainland if you're all that worried? But what about the mental effects as stated in the article anyway? Do you want even more disturbed people free in the community? As to the safety of America - is there really any risk to America which is bounded by the East and West coasts, the Canada border and Mexico? However I do have to admit to not liking the idea that someone joining the Navy could be called on to fight in the middle of a desert. Why not try better,less of the gunboat,diplomacy and with the recognition that different nations have different cultures?

Posted by: bstephens1 | October 28, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Dr. Ad Kerkhof is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Dr. Kerkhof specializes in worry, depression and suicide. He provides a set of practical exercises (cognitive behavioral therapy) designed to make you aware of your worries so that you can begin to tackle them and replace them with something more fulfilling.
The exercises are direct, simple and can be completed even in the worry-filled day of the worrier. Taking time to do the exercises (15 minutes twice a day), practice and perseverance are required, but the step-by-step, day-by-day guide lightens the task. Many exercises focus on identifying the nature and intensity of your worries. A few key questions are repeated each day, i.e. what made you worry (work/ study, finances, family). You simply check off an answer, and the multiple choice format focuses the mind. A space is set aside for jotting down key worries. Within days patterns begin to emerge, and your worries become glaringly clear. You can then question their logic and learn how to replace them with something else.

Posted by: steve_real | October 31, 2010 11:20 PM | Report abuse

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