Any discussion about the U.S. military has to start with the fact that today the force is unrivaled in the world, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at the Air Force Association’s annual meeting this morning.
“The joint force -- to include your Air Force -- is the most capable, professional military force in the world,” Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford said. “We can defend the nation. We can meet our alliance responsibilities, and I’m confident that we can maintain a competitive advantage over any potential adversary.”
Military Not Broken
The United States military is not broken,” Dunford said. “It is not at a competitive disadvantage,” he said. “And I say this fully knowing that all the services are feeling the effects of the unstable fiscal environment we’ve been in the past few years.”
The Air Force has been hit particularly hard by this as the service has not had a break in operations since before Operation Desert Storm, the chairman said.
The services still have personnel in certain specialties doing one-to-one deployments, Dunford said. He saw it most recently with pararescuemen in Djibouti and aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Barry in Japan.
These deployments put tremendous stress on service members, their families, their equipment, their training cycles and so on, the chairman said. “There are associated trends with that [operations tempo] and that fiscal environment that absolutely concern me,” he said.
The Air Force has a shortage of pilots, Dunford said, and equipment across the board is showing signs of wear and tear. Readiness challenges have been exacerbated by delays in some of the major programs like the F-35 Lightning II and in the nuclear enterprise, he noted.
“So I understand that we can’t be complacent about today’s competitive advantage,” the chairman said. “We have to restore our readiness. And that means recruiting and retaining the right number of high-quality people, modernizing the force, delivering quality training, and catching up on the maintenance of some of our infrastructure that has been neglected for many years.”
This will be tough, he said, and all service members are going to have to look for and put in place innovations that will keep the U.S. military the most capable force in the world.
“In the end, we have to develop and maintain what I describe as comprehensive joint readiness,” the chairman said. “And for me, this is actually the deliverable for all of us in the joint force. We have got to deliver viable military operations to the national command authority during a crisis or a contingency, and we have got to maintain the flexibility to be able to transition from one crisis or contingency to another across the range of military operations.”
This will be his focus in his remaining time as chairman, Dunford said.
As a construct, DoD will use the four-plus-one threat matrix to build the force, he said. This means planning for the threats posed by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, and the threat of extremist terrorists.
“If we take a look at those four plus one, and we build joint capabilities and capacities that can deal with the challenges associated with those four plus one or some combination thereof, in the future we will find ourselves with a competitive advantage against any adversary,” the general said.
The United States must address the capabilities associated with these threats, the chairman said. “We look at the current capabilities they have, we look at their organizational structure, when we look at the scenarios under which we might find ourselves confronting those four plus one, I think we’ll be close to getting it right, even with a recognition that where we fight in the future may not have anything to do with those four plus one if past is prologue,” he said.
The bottom line for service members is that leaders want to ensure that no American “soldier, sailor, airman or Marine ever finds themselves in a fair fight,” Dunford said. “That’s what this discussion and dialogue is about: We maintain that competitive advantage in the future.”
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)