“Make it Good Ones”
By Stew Webb and Remmic Lewis
On December 2, 2013, General Martin E. Dempsey announced his first ever “Facebook Town Hall” in which he invited the public to submit questions that he will address from his office at the Pentagon on Thursday December 5, 2013.
Dempsey is the highest ranking military officer in the United States, the 18th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the principal military adviser to the President, the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Council.
As we write this on the night of Dec. 4th, General Dempsey posts on Facebook has just over 675 Likes and it has been shared 213 times. An internet search yielded one page of specific results.
Remmic: If my heart rate wasn’t already accelerated, I would take a peek at recent Facebook posts from any of the major news networks or maybe Breitbart, Alex Jones or (insert your “news” source here, they ALL stink to me) to see what they are complaining about and how many of their followers have passed it on. I don’t need to look, I know the numbers are much, much higher and this saddens me that disinformation is passed around with such numbers.
Last month General Dempsey spoke at The 2013 Wall Street Journal CEO Council annual meeting.
Less than two minutes into the dialogue, when asked about the qualities of leadership, he asked the audience how many in the audience knew the name of the person who served them at their table. This was his example to highlight the importance of getting to know people and humility in addition to the most common attributes of leadership. There was a humorous jab at Capitol Hill; acknowledgment of “Ethos”, common defense was described as “keeping the country immune from coercion” and the importance of earning a relationship with the American people. He related to the listeners with the “usefulness” of seeing where we have common ground, specifically with caring about the future of our country. “…what are we gonna’ do? Cuz you know the title here, ‘Leadership in a Dangerous World’, that’s really true.”
GEN Dempsey Speaks at the Wall Street Journal Annual Event
He opined that the antidote to political gridlock in Washington is finding common ground and building relationships. “But I do think that the key will be, at some point, when things reach such a state that I think the nation will demand it and I don’t know when that occurs.” This was followed by mentioning living in times of “perpetual uncertainty” with concern.
He spoke of accountability and mentioned efforts to overcome missteps attributed to 10 years of “frenetic activity”. Failure of leadership “at a certain level” was acknowledged regarding Iraq and Afghanistan. Present day concerns with Middle Eastern and North African conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims and extremists were discussed as was China and North Korea.
General Dempsey described his role as one who articulates options and risks while noting that the options are not getting better.
I appreciate that General Dempsey a Patriotic American is giving an ear to the public on a social network and I hope to see more people respond, I want it to be a success. Do you? Speak up.
GEN Dempsey Welcomes Questions for First Facebook Town Hall
General Martin E. Dempsey FaceBook
General Martin Dempsey Facebook Townhall questions and answers:
General Martin E. Dempsey This is my first Facebook Town Hall. I’ve looked over the questions that many of you have posed during the last two days and hope to address as many topics as I can in the next half hour. But first, thank you all for what you do serving in or supporting our Armed Forces! 12:47pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Many of you have asked about the budget and its impacts on our families. It’s been a tumultuous year and I want to thank our service members and families for their perseverance and strength during this time. Really, I can’t thank you enough.
First, we have no plans to close our commissaries. However, we did task the Defense Commissary Agency for a range of options including how they would operate with less or no taxpayer subsidies. You may know that military exchanges operate without being subsidized by your taxes. The same potential exists with commissaries, but we haven’t made any decisions. We’ve got to drive toward greater efficiencies and this is just one of the potential areas.
On the greater budget, all cost-cutting efforts need to be on the table in order to ensure that our forces are ready to fight. We’re well aware of the need for acquisition reform as well as the need to reduce unnecessary infrastructure and retire unneeded weapons systems. All of the institutional reforms are intended to produce a single outcome: the best trained and best equipped service men and women on the planet.
You have my commitment that the Secretary, the Comptroller, my budget directorate, and I are considering how cost-saving efforts will impact our families and communities to include veterans and retirees. 12:49pm
W. Brent Bailey General Dempsey Thank You for providing this service and for your tireless service to our country. Could you please let us know the status on the Jan 15th 2014 budget deadline? Since the last furlough vote this topic seems to have dropped out of the news. I am concerned that the topic will be shelved until the last minute and that we might see a repeat of October 2013. December 2 at 9:34am
General Martin E. Dempsey Brent, thank you for sharing your concerns. To provide a quick summary on the FY14 budget status…on 16 Oct 13 Congress passed the Continuing Resolution [CR] which the President signed into law. This CR funds the federal government, at last year’s levels, until 15 Jan 2014. As part of the CR agreement, Congress assigned a House-Senate budget conference to negotiate a budget agreement for the remainder of FY14. The budget conference is looking at offsetting some of the sequester cuts that have far-reaching impacts across the DoD, but the outcome of the committee’s efforts is uncertain. The conference is scheduled to issue its report next week (Dec 13th). We certainly don’t want to see a repeat of last October, and we’re doing our part to articulate the challenges we’re facing. 12:52pm
Benjamin Kohlmann Our nation has spent the last ten years at war, and our junior officers and enlisted personnel had to come up with incredibly creative solutions within an evolving battlefield that encompassed economic, cultural, religious and political elements. Yet, when they return to garrison in the States, their innovative tendencies are crushed by an Industrial Age bureaucracy struggling to exist within an Information Age reality. How can we best leverage bold, risktakers required on 21st century battlefields without losing them to the frustrations of a peacetime military? December 2 at 8:16pm
Jason Knudson BACKGROUND: With the coming shift away from the war in Afghanistan and a tight fiscal situation, the military is going to be required to shift rapidly… something it has not traditionally been positioned to do. Part of the problem may be that ideas exist at lower ranks, but never make it up to decision-makers to be implemented.
Some junior military members have taken a round turn on this (forgive the Navy terminology) attempting to bring innovation and entrepreneurship back into the military. Some examples: Defense Entrepreneurs Forum, CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell, Disruptive Thinkers, The Athena Project.
But they need top cover and sponsorship to work in the bureaucracy that is the federal government.
A)What can we do as a Joint military organization to encourage and benefit from ideas and innovation from our junior enlisted and officers?
Would you be willing to sponsor a group of “free radical” junior enlisted and officers in a CJCS Rapid Innovation Cell along the lines of the CNO’s efforts in the CRIC (above)?
Those selected would be responsible for disruptive innovation across the Joint Forces, and be enabled to bring about real change in the Military, to rapidly respond to the changing battlespace and fiscal reality of the next few years.
Thank you sir for your time and for reaching out to the community. In my opinion, this is a huge step forward in flattening the space of ideas between the troops on the ground and the leaders in command. Thank you for reaching out.
LT Jason Knudson, CNO’s Rapid Innovation Cell
December 2 at 6:49pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Benjamin Kohlmann and Jason Knudson, I think you’re on the right track with what you’re doing with Defense Entrepreneurs Forum and the Chief of Naval Operation’s Rapid Innovation Cell.
We’re constantly taking the lessons from the past 12+ years to improve our force. Innovation is critical to the Joint Force as we move forward to 2020. The challenges we can expect to face in the future will be dynamic and unpredictable. The good news: We’re very dynamic ourselves, probably the most dynamic force in the world today. How we fought in 2001 is very different from how we’re fighting now, built on change that occurred from the bottom up and leaders on the ground making adjustments to the situations they faced (and are facing). Through the lessons learned process we have institutionalized many of these innovations and will continue to do so. We’re also reevaluating how we develop current and future leaders in an era characterized by uncertainty and rapid change, and how we reward talented, bold innovators. Finally, Jason, your idea about a CJCS Rapid Innovation Cell is intriguing, but I think that initiating might be better within the Services; our role on the Joint Staff is to help integrate their innovations into the joint force. That said, I’ll discuss your idea with the Joint Chiefs. 12:59pm
Jeff Gilmore General, it’s no secret that our military’s technical productivity tools are lagging behind the civilian world. Tools like DTS are complicated, not mobile friendly, and time intensive. It is also very challenging to do basic tasks (non FOUO+) outside of a desktop environment. As we draw down our manpower, these tech-shortcomings become an even larger drag on productivity. What are your ideas to narrow this tech divide between the civilian and military world? Equally as important, how can young leaders with ideas (and solutions to these issues) more rapidly push those concepts to your level where action can be taken? December 2 at 6:11pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Jeff, thanks for your questions. I think I’ve already talked about innovation within an organization, but for your tech-divide question, striking the balance between commercial products and keeping our data secure is always a challenge. I address this in the Joint Information Environment White Paper (http://www.jcs.mil/…/031813153411_JIE_-_CJCS_White…), which outlines how we’ll assemble, configure, secure, and use new and legacy information technologies. I agree with you that commercial information technology is outpacing us. I’m hoping that one of the positive outcomes of the resource constraints will be to drive us in that direction. 1:00pm
Lisa Holz Sir , thank you for taking my question. As a final year security studies student in Australia- I am closely watching the increasing tension vis-a-vis China & its territorial claims. Is the current situation just saber rattling or are we seeing a trend developing where China may use its military assets to achieve its political objectives? If we use Realism as a predictor then it would suggest a further escalation is inevitable. Even a Constructivist approach, given China’s previous historical experiences with the West, lends itself to China reasserting itself with an increased aggressive stance. If this is indeed the case, what is the US and ANZUS position on any unilateral use of force by China with regards to its territorial disputes within the region? December 2 at 11:58pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Lisa, thanks for your question. We do not recognize the Chinese ADIZ and we continue to fly in the area because it’s international air space, not sovereign territory. In short, our military operations will not change. From a realist perspective, nations will act in their interests all the time. China is no different. So as the dynamics in the region continue to change (and they are always changing), we must build stronger military-to-military relationships with the PLA. We must seek avenues and mechanisms to avoid miscalculation. We must also maintain our strength in the Pacific and support our partners in the region to include Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. We’ve been clear with the Chinese that territorial disputes should not be resolved unilaterally and through coercion. We all benefit from stability in the Pacific, and I assess that the Chinese are clever enough to realize that. 1:02pm
Tyson M. It seems like all services are having a challenging time building up new career paths for both officers and enlisted to support cyberspace operations. Other retired Flag and General officers have recently begun advocating for a separate “cyber service,” largely under the presumption that a proclivity to traditional service component roles will always be a hindrance towards developing a maximally effective cyber forces. What are your thoughts on a separate cyber service? And, absent a jarring ‘cyber 9/11’ or ‘cyber Pearl Harbor’ type event, what metrics and/or milestones do you think should be put into place to judge the effectiveness/ineffectiveness of the ability for the service components to adequately man, train, and equip our rapidly increasing need for elite cyber forces under the current service component construct? December 2 at 8:04pm HYPERLINK “\l “””
General Martin E. Dempsey Tyson, thanks for asking. Cyber is a huge concern for that reason – cyber is one of the few areas where we’ve added funding even in a fiscally constrained environment. Since cyber requires the fusion of intelligence and operations at the speed of light, I don’t think it should be a separate service. At least not at this point. As for man, train, and equip, the Services are diligently working to produce operational cyberspace capability for our Nation. We have a resourced model for the organizing, training, equipping of Joint Cyberspace mission forces that support our Combatant Commanders and the Nation. I routinely meet with industry and academia experts as well as the experts within our own force to ensure that our whole-of-defense, enterprise approach is properly executed with regard to cyber. 1:06pm
Crispin Burke General Martin E. Dempsey: The other day, you said that the Pentagon was willing to overlook recruits’ social media moments which may have previously precluded them from military service. What impact do you see social media having on military culture and discipline? What positive and negative aspects do you see? December 4 at 10:13am HYPERLINK “\l “””
General Martin E. Dempsey Crispin, social media has affected the military in the same way it’s affected any organization–we’ve benefited greatly from the speed, mobility and the interaction, but it comes with risks. We’ve been working to emphasize the opportunity for leaders to positively influence military culture and discipline by getting involved in the space and being role models online as they are in units. I’ve also watched social media’s role in exposing the military experience to the citizens we defend, ranging from humor to debate. I’m impressed with how our nation’s understanding of the military has changed especially since 2001. As service members or veterans, we have a role in broadening and deepening that relationship with our nation, and social media can certainly help. And to be clear, I did not say that we would necessarily overlook potential recruits’ social media behavior, but more broadly cautioned that our younger generation needs to be thoughtful regarding their on-line presence. 1:09pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Michael, thanks for asking about this. First, I want to mention that suicide rates are trending down, and this year, it’s been the lowest in three years. We’re heavily invested in understanding PTS and suicide, from research to treatment. Our services have also taken innovative measures, for example, the Army and NFL have partnered to study traumatic brain injury, and we have organizations like the Defense Centers of Excellence which also offers programs for families. These are only two examples of many. You can find more updates here: http://www.defense.gov/…/2013/0913_suicide-prevention/ We are committed to continuing to improve in this difficult area. 1:10pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Great name, Martin. Regarding National Guard and Reserve forces, we have made great strides in creating a Total Force: active, Guard and Reserve. Since September 2001, the Reserve components have served with distinction and have met every challenge that we have asked them to perform. Our country owes each member of our National Guard and Reserve a debt of gratitude for their superb performance.
The role of the National Guard and Reserves will be just as important to our force in the future as they have been during the past two wars. I fully expect continued operational employment of the reserves, though at a reduced frequency, as the Nation reduces our requirements in Afghanistan. Moving forward, we will reduce the size of the Total Force, and that will mean reductions in the size of our active, guard and reserve forces driven both by current fiscal realities and a changing strategic landscape.
One thing’s for sure. America’s citizen soldiers in the Guard and reserve will always be there whenever the Joint Force is sent into action. It can be no other way. We’re working hard in the current uncertain budget environment to get the balance right. 1:15pm
Alison Fraser Dunham Sir thank you for your time, service, and interest in our questions. I have 3. 1) Deployments and service can be very stressful on families, what is the military doing specifically to support families and help keep them intact? 2) We know that there are many issues Congress is failing to act or exercise oversight on that are adversely affecting Veterans and the DOD. How can active duty soldiers participate more in our representative democracy and political process without violating their limitations on advocating a particular party or campaign? and 3) What advice or suggestions would you give a soldier and family approaching the 20year service mark? Again, thank you so much for listening to our concerns. December 2 at 9:56am
General Martin E. Dempsey Alison, great questions. 1. DOD has a number of services for families, many available on militaryonesource.com and through my Office of Warrior and Family Support (https://www.facebook.com/OfficeOfWarriorAndFamilySupport) My wife Deanie Dempsey often shares resources and specials for families on her page, hope you’ll follow. 2. I discussed the topic of service members participating in our democracy in Joint Force Quarterly. Hope you’ll read it: http://www.dtic.mil/doctrine/jfq/jfq-65.pdf 3. And congratulations on approaching the 20-year mark. If you’re getting ready to retire, I’d recommend linking up with veterans groups or consider using your years of experience for a leadership role whether teaching or leading within a community. Best wishes to you and your family! 1:17pm
Myles B. Caggins III Sir, What advice do you have for servicemembers headed to their first Joint assignment? In retrospect, do you wish you knew/read anything prior to your first Joint assignment? December 2 at 4:02pm HYPERLINK “\l “””
General Martin E. Dempsey Thanks Myles. I believe this starts with going beyond just being skilled in your Service specialty — you should work to gain an understanding on how your service component fits in the joint force and in joint operations and then move on to understand how all the pieces fit together. Serving joint is about continuing to learn and build relationships.
I’d also recommend learning about the budget cycle. Much of what we do here is driven by the cycle. And read broadly and deeply which will help in leadership
and communication. Joint Publication JP-1 is a great base document to begin with. I recommend visiting the Joint Electronic Library + online for access to joint publications specific to the position you are going to. Best of luck in your assignment! 1:19pm
Jane Payeur Baldwin General, There is a lot of controversy about how Military Sexual Assault Cases are handled. Are there any plans to change the current policies? December 2 at 11:57pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Jane, the answer is absolutely. We have to fight this crime that so erodes the trust upon which our profession is built. We’ve welcomed the help of Congress and others to create a “constellation” of policies around unit commanders to both assist them and to hold them accountable. The Joint Chiefs and I meet regularly on this subject as do subordinate commanders at every level. We’re tracking trends, making changes, reinforcing best practices, and applying resources. We want to be the best institution in the land at combatting this crime as we are at combatting other threats. 1:22pm
Ricki Hanisch Sir, I met you when you were travelling in Jordan to visit the International Police Training Center. Even though I’m an Aussie, and not one of your troops, you took the time to sit down with me and talk about my career aspirations and personal goals. It is a conversation I will never forget. What is it, do you think, that gives some leaders that extra quality that inspires others? Is it something that a leader can learn, or are they born with it? December 2 at 3:18pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Ricki, thanks for your question. I consider any member of our coalition a friend to the American military. I can’t say enough about the “Diggers” and your fighting spirit! Leadership is the interaction between leader and led. It has to be based on a relationship of trust, otherwise there’s no real leadership. Inspiring others requires you to be true to yourself and the values you represent. If a leader isn’t true to him or herself, that’ll be quickly identifiable, and they won’t be effective. As to whether leadership is nature or nurture, it’s both. Be yourself – there is nothing more powerful than being genuine and authentic. And as Sam Damon reminds us in the novel Once an Eagle, “If you ever have to choose between a good officer or a good person, be a good person.” The rest generally takes care of itself. I’m glad I could meet with you in Jordan – best of luck to you and thanks. 1:23pm
Travis Kelley Sir, what are our current and foreseeable priorities within the next decade?
December 2 at 8:50pm
Will Valentin Sir, there are many challenges which the Armed Forces of the United States will be facing over the next decade. Of those challenges which ones affect us the most which we will have no control over, and which ones affect us the most which we do have control over? As leaders what ways do you think we have to address the issues that affect us most and that we have control over? December 2 at 8:40amHYPERLINK \l “”
General Martin E. Dempsey Travis Kelley and Will Valentin, thanks for asking your questions about priorities over the next ten years. Without a doubt, my biggest challenge is ensuring that our nation has the best led, trained, and equipped force to defend it against evolving threats. And amidst today’s budget uncertainty the complexity of that task cannot be overstated. And we need help from Congress and the administration in some areas such as acquisition reform, reducing access infrastructure and basing, retiring less critical and older weapons systems, and pay and compensation reform. My other key priorities include meeting our current national objectives in Afghanistan, the pacific and other areas; keeping faith with our tremendous military family; and diligently caring for the professionalism of our force, what we call “the profession of arms.” 1:25pm
Larry Neuburger General Dempsey, Would you please direct us toward a few charitable organizations that you feel best provide accountable, effective services to our military personnel and veterans? Our charitable giving would be easier if we were sure that our dollars were being used in the most effective way possible. Thanks for all you do. Non Vox Sed Votum. December 2 at 11:42am
Sandy Strans Investigate the real veteran donation sites as CNN said most never help our veterans. What ones are real & get the money to our veterans? We only want ones that get the money to veterans. December 2 at 8:38am
General Martin E. Dempsey Larry Neuburger and Sandy Strans – thanks for your support to our service members. We’re blessed to have so many organizations that care for our military and families. A great place to begin is the Combined Federal Campaign. Your local campaign will have a list of registered charities to include many organizations for veterans, service members, and families: https://www.opm.gov/combined-federal-campaign/ 1:28pm
Paul Brook Well General I have to say being an old and not so wise Brit that I admire your invitation although I suspect that questions will be, shall we say, wide ranging…
At this time of year, though, it is difficult to underestimate the importance of support from families and communities. As some commitments reduce and others ramp up do you sense changes in attitudes of those waiting at home and what initatives would you like to see in the future to try and ensure that the vital covenant that exists between those away and those at home remains strong?Heartfelt good wishes General to all US servicemen and servicewomen and their families! December 2 at 9:57am HYPERLINK “\l “””
General Martin E. Dempsey Paul, my guess is that you’re not as old and far wiser than you let on. To your question. We’ve got o better integrate the efforts of DOD and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs. We’re making some progress. We also have to continue to establish as many public-private partnerships as possible. Finally, we have to improve the programs which prepare service men and women to transition into civilian life. All the best! 1:36pm
Kimie Bruch Kim Jung Un’s uncle, Jang Song Taek was removed from his recent position and his close people got executed. What is your view of the current North Korea, General? Also, China is changing its foreign policy toward North Korea for the six party talks. Is China going to influence the six party talks? What about relationship between South Korea and Japan? While South Korea keeps strong alliance with the United States, its diplomatic relationship with Japan is becoming worse. How do you think the two countries will impact on the six party talks? Do you believe the talks will resume any time soon? December 3 at 5:35am HYPERLINK “\l “””
General Martin E. Dempsey Kimie, these are difficult issues that we wrestle with every day, and quick answers probably don’t do them justice.
I also saw the media report on the North Korean regime that you cite. As you may know, our knowledge of the inner workings of North Korea are limited, and we do not know if events have occurred as reported in the media. We do think that Kim Jung Un asserting himself and if the stories are true, it is another example of how brutal the Kim regime remains.
As for six party talks, this is primarily an issue for our diplomats, but I’ll tell you that China has always been a key player in the six party talks, and as such, the Chinese leadership is eager to see movement towards starting the talks again. The obstacle is North Korea. North Korea knows exactly what it needs to do to restart talks, which is to show concrete steps to denuclearize. The United States just isn’t interested in conducting talks for the sake of talking. You can say the ball is in North Korea’s court. My old boss Secretary Gates, said of North Korea, “We’re not going to buy the same horse twice!” He was directly referring to not resume talks until North Korea demonstrates they are serious about denuclearization.
As for South Korea and Japan, we have strong alliances with both. However, these are two powerful and proud countries who have a long and complicated shared history. But the relationship between South Korea and Japan continues to grow; for the sake of regional stability, it is important to continue growing the trilateral relationship between US-South Korea-Japan, as well as the bilateral South Korea-Japan relationship. So we do our part to encourage cooperation through our military engagements.
While history can create obstacles, we share common values of democracy, freedom, human rights, and free markets as well as some common threats such as North Korea–these are powerful factors that will encourage continued cooperation. Obviously if we get to six party talks again, we’ll need them working closely together, and I am confident they will. 1:40pm
Bill French Some analysts have criticized the Air-Sea Battle concept for entailing unacceptable risks of nuclear escalation in a contingency with the PLA because any ASB campaign would require long-range precision strikes against targets in the Chinese mainland. Do you agree or disagree with this criticism? December 2 at 12:17pm HYPERLINK “\l “””
General Martin E. Dempsey Bill, we disagree with this criticism because it is based on a false understanding of the Air-Sea Battle concept and it makes broad assumptions that don’t hold up to scrutiny.
First, anti-access is escalatory if it seeks to limit our legal access to the global commons and in fact, ASB seeks to keep an “all or nothing solution” from being our only option to regain that access. Escalation is a decision or reaction by political leaders and military commanders based on the situation. ASB seeks to give these leaders the options they might need. The mere existence of capabilities that counter anti-access/area denial threats is not escalatory, but, rather, is essential to effective deterrence. In contrast, if we lacked the ability to overcome anti-access strategies, it could actually lead to miscalculation and escalation by the adversary who perceives U.S. vulnerability. Without an initial, effective response to adversary aggression, the U.S and allies could find themselves in a situation where they must either choose to escalate, or cede objectives to an adversary.
Second, Air-Sea Battle is an enabling concept, not a plan or campaign. Air-Sea Battle is a set of ideas about what is necessary to counter anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) threats and strategies. ASB has never been an all-or-nothing concept. Adding alternatives as tensions increase mitigates rather than exacerbates escalation. 1:41pm
John DeRosa Secretary Hagel’s CSIS speech establishes a departmental priority for SOF, Cyber, and ISR yet he cautions against the overdependence on the military option. Doesn’t reliance in these areas create a paradox increasing the likelihood we will be drawn into conflict? Recalling a prominent civil-military relations observer, “war waged in a special-operations-first world just might become truly global — and never-ending.” December 2 at 2:20pm
General Martin E. Dempsey My job is to present our elected leaders with as many options as possible, to articulate risks and opportunities and to advise how the military instrument of power can fit into a whole-of-government strategy. It all has to fit together! 1:42pm
General Martin E. Dempsey Thanks for joining me on my first Facebook town hall. You took the time to ask a lot of thoughtful questions, so I was glad to address as many of them as I could. Keep contributing your thoughts, and thanks again for serving and supporting our military. 1:48pm