Military News

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Mullen Tells Senior Officers to Listen to Young Troops

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

June 7, 2008 - All ranks must work to together to change the
military from a peacetime mentality to a war footing, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told graduates of the Army War College here today. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen also told the 339 graduates that he is concerned about gaps in U.S. military capabilities.

"In the
Air Force, we have seen -- as recently as this week -- evidence of a serious decline in nuclear mission focus and performance, a decline which erodes our nation's ability to effectively deter and to defeat potential major adversaries," he said.

"I respect and admire the decisions by (
Air Force) Secretary Michael Wynne and (Air Force Chief of Staff General T. Michael) Moseley to accept responsibility and accountability for this decline," he continued.

Their decision to shoulder responsibility was right and is "a lesson to us all about leadership, but so too should it serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of complacency."

The gaps in professional expertise cannot persist, particularly when the
military is called upon to engage around the globe, building allies' capacity, improving international and interagency cooperation, and fostering both security and stability through healthy vibrant deterrence, Mullen said.

"We can expect the counterinsurgency mission to continue, perhaps even grow, but we must also stay prepared for a range of military operations," he said. "We cannot sacrifice the future for the sake of the now."

The U.S.
military must listen to battle-hardened young servicemembers, Mullen stressed, and the lieutenant colonels and colonels must listen. "(The troops) are out there making a difference, and they know it," Mullen said. "They also know, as you do, a few new things about how to wage irregular warfare in this new century."

In Iraq, American servicemembers are providing the stability the country needs. They are training Iraqi
security forces and have made sacrifices to do so. That combat experience is invaluable, Mullen said. "They are wise beyond their years," he said. "War has a way of doing that. We owe them our attention and our time. We owe them the opportunity to think and to speak.

"Two weeks ago, I stood before the graduating class of the Naval Academy, and I told them to question you, their seniors, about the way we do things," he said. "Today, I urge you, in turn, to listen to them, your juniors. Learn what's on their minds; come to know their concerns. ... We need your help in bringing these issues to the forefront of a system that is mired in peacetime and must fundamentally change, one that puts our people at the center of the universe."

The chairman also called on a national discourse on defense. "Quite frankly, I don't believe our armed forces are as balanced as they need to be for that future," he said. "That's why I have so strongly argued for a renewed debate in this country about the level of defense spending."

He said he would like to see a thoughtful reevaluation of the threats America faces and the risks the country is willing to run. He suggested the country should invest roughly 4 percent of gross domestic product in national defense. "Whether we stay at that level or rise above it is, of course, for the American people to decide, but we ought to have that discussion," he said. "Maintaining a force that is correctly shaped, sized, trained and equipped so that we may adequately defend our nation is our most pressing long-term problem."

The
military needs to be able to fight counterinsurgencies, but some regional threats also require conventional capabilities. The Navy has a power-projection mission that requires more than the 280 ships currently afloat.

In the
Army and Marine Corps forces need to fill gaps. "There are young Marines who have never deployed aboard a Navy ship, and Army officers who have not been able to focus on their mission of providing artillery fire support," he said. "We must be able to fight with equal vigor the savage wars of peace and the fractured peace that could be major war in the future."

Mullen told the officers that they must have a more balanced view of the world. The War College class has 43 international fellows including officers from Egypt, Romania, Afghanistan, India, Iraq, Lebanon, Mongolia, Colombia, Indonesia and Mexico. "These individuals have given you a glimpse of the world through their eyes," Mullen said.

He urged the students to stay in contact, saying this will help build relationships and broaden perspectives.

"We must understand intimately how others see the world -- our friends and our enemies -- and where we reside in that worldview," the chairman said. "We must read their books, speak their languages, understand their cultures, and learn their histories, so we can know who they are and where they are going."

Mullen also recalled his trip to the Pacific and Pakistan earlier this week. He said the trip illustrated the need for balance in the
military and the need to address a range of missions. U.S. Pacific Command forces operate daily across the range of military activities from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief -- such as recent humanitarian missions supplying aid to China and Burma -- to counterterrorist operations and foreign internal defense -- such as operations under way in the Philippines. In addition, Pacific Command forces train and exercise with conventional forces in the Republic of Korea.

"U.S. forces worldwide must likewise be able to provide our civilian leaders a wide range of options for deterrence escalation and de-escalation and, wherever we can, a helping hand," Mullen said.

The War College graduation was held at 9 a.m. and the temperature already was climbing into the mid-90s. The audience turned programs into fans and sought shade from the sun that broke through the fog just in time for the ceremony. The graduation was on the parade ground that once saw the stamp of militia raised for the French and Indian War.

Gates to Travel to Air Force Bases as Show of Support

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

June 6, 2008 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will travel next week to
Air Force bases in the United States, hoping to show his support for airmen in the wake of the resignations of the service's two top officials. Gates accepted the resignations of Air Force Secretary Michael W. Wynne and Chief of Staff Gen. T. Michael Moseley yesterday following an investigation revealing a decline in focus, performance and effective leadership in the Air Force's nuclear program.
Gates will leave June 9 for a two-day trip that will take him to Langley
Air Force Base, Va., Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., and possibly a third base, officials said.

During the trip, Gates will "reinforce the messages ... about the supreme importance of safeguarding our nuclear arsenal and its associated components, and how there is no room for error in this line of work, [while] at the same also conveying to airmen ... his support for their efforts in the global
war on terror, and his commitment to work with them to improve the Air Force," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said.

"[Airmen] shouldn't confuse issues he's had with their
leadership with any lack of support for their effort in the war," Morrell said. "Fundamentally, this is an outreach to airmen. I don't think he wants them to be left with the impressions that he has any problems with the Air Force other than those identified ... with regards to the handling of nuclear components."

Morrell said the secretary has nominees in mind to replace Wynne and Moseley and hopes to announce his choices soon, most likely before he leaves on his trip. Gates has spoken to President Bush about his picks for the jobs, but it was not in the form of a formal recommendation, Morrell said.

A Pentagon official speaking on background said the secretary is strongly considering recommending Michael B. Donley, the director of administration and management for the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Donley was sworn into his current job in 2005.
Wynne and Moseley will remain in their posts until new
leaders are in place. Gates announced Wynne's and Moseley's resignations after the release of a report detailing the accidental shipment of four non-nuclear ballistic missile nose-cone assembly components rather than the intended helicopter batteries to Taiwan in August 2006.

After visiting the bases, Gates will travel on to Brussels, Belgium, on June 11 for a NATO defense ministers conference.

Military Looks to Synthetics, Conservation to Cut Fuel Bills

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 6, 2008 - With fuel prices soaring and no apparent end in sight, the Defense Department is feeling the pinch in its pocketbook and is looking for ways to save through conservation and alternative fuels programs. The Defense Department is "probably the largest single user of petroleum products in the world," so rising energy costs are a major concern, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told a questioner at the Asia
Security Summit in Singapore earlier this week.

"Every time the price of oil goes up by $1 per barrel, it costs us about $130 million, and frankly, my credit card limit is getting narrow on that," Gates said.

Particularly in light of wartime operations, the impact is significant. Defense Energy Support Center statistics show that the
military spent $12.6 billion on jet fuel, diesel and other fuels in 2007, with operations in Iraq and Afghanistan consuming $1.7 billion of that total.

Spiraling fuel costs in 2008 and their effect in fiscal 2009, which begins Oct. 1, have forced department officials to return to Congress for additional funding to cover the shortfall. But the department is increasingly looking to other options, Gates told his Asian counterparts during the three-day
security conference, citing efforts ranging from synthetic fuels initiatives to fuel reclaiming aimed at curbing fuel demand as well as costs.

Gates noted that the
Air Force recently achieved milestones using synthetic fuels that cost significantly less than their petroleum counterparts. In March, a B-1B Lancer became the first Air Force aircraft to fly at supersonic speed using a 50/50 blend of synthetic and petroleum gases.

The fuel, derived from natural gas, is being tested as part of an ongoing
Air Force program to help the environment and to use a fuel produced domestically.

Air Force officials previously have tested the fuel blend in the B-52 Stratofortress, the first aircraft to use the fuel, and the C-17 Globemaster III.

Meanwhile, engineers at Arnold Engineering Development Center in
Tennessee wrapped up alternative fuel testing on the first fighter jet engine in May. The test used a synthetic blend in the engine for the F-15 Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon jets.

"The goal is to have every aircraft using synthetic fuel blends by 2011,"
Air Force Maj. Don Rhymer, of the Air Force Alternative Fuels Certification Office, told the Air Force News Agency. "By 2016, we hope at least 50 percent of this fuel will be produced domestically."

While experimenting with synthetic fuels, the Defense Department is exploring other fuel-saving options. "We are looking at ways to recapture used petroleum products and refine then, and we are looking at various conservation measures," Gates said at the Asia Security Summit.

Gates described some of the recovery efforts he witnessed during a May 1 visit to Red River
Army Depot, Texas, during testimony later that month before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The depot contracts with a private company that retrieves gasoline, oil and other fluids in the Humvees, Stryker armored vehicles, tanks and other vehicles brought to the depot for maintenance, Gates told the senators. The company then refines and sells the fluids, with Red River
Army Depot getting a share of the profits.

"So they make several million dollars back for the taxpayers simply by not throwing away these used fuel and petroleum products," Gates said.

Gates called this an example of how the Defense Department supports broader conservation efforts. "I think that we do have a contribution to make, but I would say that it is very much in a supporting role," he said at the Asia Security Summit.

(
Air Force Staff Sgt. Matthew Bates of the Air Forces New Agency and JanaƩ Daniels of the Air Force's Arnold Engineering Development Center contributed to this article.)