Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dempsey: USO Tour Salutes Troops’ Service, Sacrifices

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Dec. 15, 2012 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff took a moment today to reflect on the two stops he's made on his annual USO holiday tour.
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey praised troops for their service and sacrifices, and said the first two stops on the tour served to thank troops on behalf of himself and Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, his senior enlisted advisor.

“We've got a great group of entertainers, and the first [of] two stops we were able to see the sailors of the [USS] John C. Stennis, the carrier out of Washington state, who we asked to redeploy after only five months home,” he said.

“I wanted to make sure they knew how much we appreciate their flexibility and resilience,” Dempsey said. “And not only [them], but their families.”

“And so that stop was to say thanks to them, on behalf of all the many, many mariners we've got sailing around the globe, promoting our interests,” he added.

The chairman also wanted to recognize the servicemen and women who serve at an austere outpost in Kyrgyzstan. They receive little recognition, he said, but their work has a great impact on the war effort in Afghanistan.

“We just left … Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, outside of the capital of Bishkek,” Dempsey said. “It's one of those places in our military that does an incredible amount of work, with not much fanfare.

“Here's about 1,600 [people], mostly airmen, but all services, who are there helping us move, mostly our personnel, but also some cargo, in and out of Afghanistan,” he continued. “And also, they provide about 33 percent of our aerial refuel capability for Afghanistan, so I wanted to stop there.”

The chairman said he has visited the transit center before. And at this time of year, he said, he experienced the extreme cold temperatures in which the troops assigned there must work in as they carry out their missions.

“I found out Kyrgyzstan is … particularly beautiful this time of year but really cold,” Dempsey said. “And those airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines who work up there, work in some pretty harsh conditions, but get the job done.”

This year's USO tour includes the talents of Washington Nationals Major League Baseball players Ross Detwiler and Craig Stammen; Matt Hendricks, a Washington Capitals' National Hockey League player; comedian Iliza Schlesinger, winner of NBC's Last Comic Standing and country music singer Kellie Pickler and her band.

Also, USO President Sloan D. Gibson is accompanying the tour, along with Shane Hudella, who is part of “Defending the Blue Line,” an organization that donates hockey equipment to military families.

“We've got a great group of entertainers,” Dempsey emphasized. “Sergeant Major [Bryan B.] Battaglia and I are privileged to be able to make this trip, introduce these entertainers to the young men and women who serve, and thank them during the holiday season.”

Dempsey Discusses North Korea, U.S. Strategic Rebalance

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 15, 2012 – The decision by North Korea to conduct another missile launch is unfortunate and counterproductive to stability in the region, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey took a moment during his travel on his annual USO holiday tour for a one-on-one interview with American Forces Press Service to discuss North Korea's recent actions and the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.

“My thoughts are that the North Koreans continue to be a force of instability in a region while we're working diligently to increase stability,” Dempsey said.

“So their decision to do that [missile launch] was very unwise, very unfortunate and I think the international community increasingly sees them for what they are -- which is a force of instability during a time when they ought to be looking for opportunities to contribute to regional stability,” he said.

The chairman also discussed the progress made in the U.S. strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.
“Last year, we talked about our strategic interests, globally, and how they would change over time,” Dempsey said. “But that's an important point -- over time. This wasn't a light switch.”

“And so, as we thought about that rebalancing of our interests, kind of horizontally, this year we're looking at the impact of that vertically,” he said.

The chairman explained the three-part, vertical aspect of the rebalancing, “which is to say how much of our force structure is forward, how much is rotational and how much is retained in the homeland to provide surge capability for security issues that we may not anticipate.”

Asked of the “gains” seen in this strategic pivot, Dempsey described what he perceives as a gain, although he said he doesn't necessarily view the rebalancing in terms of “losses and gains.”

“When you use the term 'gains,' I would say the single biggest gain is we've got this, I think, pretty coherent vision of how our security will be shaped between now and [the year] 2020,” he said. “[This is] the first step and that's a significant step.”

Over the course of the next three or four years, “we've got to put into place a system, processes, resources [and the] intellectual energy to deliver,” Dempsey said.