Mullen Stresses Lessons of Jointness
Mullen Stresses Lessons of
By Jim Garamone, American
Forces Press Service
Baghdad -- 2 August 2011-- (AFNS)
-- The men and women gathered in the apse of the Al-Faw Palace here spoke
volumes of what the U.S. military has become.
Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Defense Department
civilians gathered to hear and to ask questions of America's highest-ranking
military officer. Their service together in the headquarters for U.S. Forces
Iraq signified how far the joint force has come.
One young Sailor asked Navy Adm. Mike Mullen how to capture
the lessons learned about operating jointly, and the question clearly energized
the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Through the course of two wars, we have built an incredibly
joint force in ways that many of us could not have imagined," Mullen said. "I
love each service to death -- the ethos and culture that each service has. It's
a critical part of who we are as a military."
But the military has found that if the services work together,
they can accomplish a lot more and can eliminate duplication, he said.
"We can see best practices and ideas from other services that
sometimes make us scratch our head and ask why we weren't doing that," he added.
Those people who turned the situation around in Iraq and
those who are turning the tables on the Taliban in Afghanistan have depended on
members of other services to a degree never seen in American history, the
chairman noted, acknowledging that getting to this point has not been easy.
Today, he said, everyone praises the Goldwater-Nichols Act of
1986 for the way it brought jointness to the forefront. But it was a tough sell
at all levels of the military, he recalled, and only the vast prestige of
Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater put the law on the books.
"It really took us about 10 to 15 years (after the law took
effect) that we moved in the joint direction," Mullen said. "It was really these
conflicts that made us joint."
And this needs to continue, the chairman added.
"We need to leverage not only what has happened here, but
recognize the importance and opportunity in places like cyber, like space, (and)
in intelligence," he said. "As we get smaller as an institution, that mandates
that we work more closely together. In returning to our services, you can't
forget what you learned."
Mullen said that when he was chief of naval operations, he
moved Sailors onto the shore and into the combat zones in Iraq and Afghanistan.
He did it because the Sailors could contribute to the effort ashore, he
explained, and they also would learn how to operate jointly -- and they would
return to the fleet "and plant the seed that would change the Navy."
The American military has built capabilities that are
extraordinary, Mullen said.
"Things we didn't know we needed when this began, we now
have, whether it is intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities
or force protection or intelligence and operations systems that feed each other
so we can be much quicker to the fight," he said.
When the wars began, those in the military spoke about the
speed of war, the chairman said, noting that the U.S. military was lagging
behind a nimble and adroit terror group.
"That's no longer the case," he said. "Not only have we
caught up with them, we've gotten ahead of them. We went from a classic
conventional force to the best counterinsurgency force the world has ever seen,
and we did it on the fly, we did it in stride, we did it in the fight."