By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
PERTH, Australia, Nov. 12, 2012 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is ready to move on to the next step of determining the footprint of U.S. troops based overseas.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said in an interview today that service members can expect changes in the numbers of troops based overseas, with increases in some cases and decreases in others.
The determination is an outgrowth of the new defense strategy adopted earlier this year, the chairman said, and officials have been working to learn what is necessary to implement the strategy.
“That’s part of the strategic seminars I’ve been holding with the combatant commanders and service chiefs,” he said. “I also said when we implemented the strategy that we wouldn’t get just one at-bat to deliver this strategy. We’ll have several to deliver these over the plate.”
The rebalancing of the force to the Asia-Pacific region has received most of the attention since the strategy was announced.
“That was a horizontal rebalancing globally,” the chairman said. “This year, I want to look at a vertical rebalancing, and what I mean by that … is how we array the forces we have … and how many should be forward stationed and how best to reap the benefits of forward stationing which are close, binding, traditional enduring relationships.”
This includes cultural awareness that leads to deep relationships and deep contacts, he said.
The chairman said he also will look at where and how to rotate troops in and out of areas, “and where we base troops in the homeland, where we build readiness and connect with America.”
As the military compares the horizontal and vertical rebalancing, he said, “I believe I’ll have a pretty good understanding of how to best apply the resources we have as we go through the continuing budget discussions.”
But budget uncertainty makes all this more difficult, Dempsey said. There still is no fiscal 2013 budget, and the cloud of sequestration hangs over discussion of fiscal 2014’s budget. If Congress fails to find an alternative by January, a sequestration mechanism in budget law will trigger about $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade in addition to $487 billion in cuts already scheduled over that period.
Development of a strategy that takes those spending reductions into account proves the Defense Department is adaptable, Dempsey said.
“I’ve often said that the military is seen as being resistant to change,” the general said. “We’re really not. If you look at the force we were 10 years ago and the force we are today, I would compare the way we’ve changed with any other sector of the United States.
“We’re not averse to change, but uncertainty is the thing that is troubling, because you don’t want to put the force in the position where it has to make major change every year,” he continued. “Tell us what you want us to change once and let us get after it, and I think you’ll find we’ll deliver.”
The chairman is here to participate in annual consultations between the United States and Australia.