Dempsey Explains Defense Strategy at Nation's Oldest 'Think Tank'
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
WASHINGTON, May 1, 2012 - The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today discussed the new national defense strategy and its core pillars in remarks at the nation's oldest international affairs "think tank."
"Over the past months we've formulated what I guess is now being called a new defense strategy," Dempsey said. "It's built on a [Quadrennial Defense Review], of course, but it's new in several important ways."
One of the aspects of the strategy is rebalancing U.S. forces with emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region. During a visit to NATO headquarters in Brussels last week, he said, he was asked with "great interest" what rebalancing means.
"I suggested to them that it's a process not a light switch. We'll work our way into it," he said. "It starts with intellectual bandwidth more than anything. We have to shift some of our intellectual bandwidth and start to understand how rebalance ourselves so it's not just about our resources, equipment or basing. "It's about thinking, and we are beginning that process now."
The chairman said the second pillar of the strategy, and one of its cornerstones, is building partners, and not because the United States will be doing less. Rather, he said, it's because the world over the last decade or two has become a "security paradox" that has seen a proliferation of capabilities and technologies to middleweight actors and nonstate actors. That he said, "actually makes the world feel, and potentially be, more dangerous than any time I remember in uniform."
Dempsey noted that he came into the Army in 1974.
"It's not a paradox that necessarily has to be met with bigger military forces," he said. "I think it's a paradox that has to be met with different military forces. And among the things that will make that work [is] our ability to build on existing partnerships around the globe, notably the North Atlantic alliance, [and] others as well."
Adversaries rarely mass against the United States and its allies any more, the general pointed out. "They decentralize, they network and they syndicate," he said, making development of emerging partnerships especially important now.
Adversaries use 21st-century information technologies to syndicate groups of "criminal actors," the chairman said -- groups that come together based on moments in time when they want to find a common purpose and pull apart otherwise.
"But we, the quintessential hierarchical institution on the face of the planet ... have to find ways to be a network ourselves," he said. "And that means a network of interagency partners internal to our government."
The chairman conceded that building partnerships isn't an easy endeavor, and acknowledged a need to improve processes in intelligence sharing, technology transfer, foreign military sales -- processes he said "tend to somewhat hinder our ability to build partners."
The final aspect of the new strategy, Dempsey said, is the integration of capabilities the military didn't have 10 years ago, such as the cyber and special operations capabilities and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology that exist today. Other capabilities originally considered niche capabilities now are being integrated into conventional ways of operating, he noted.
"We've moved now from writing our new strategy to beginning to challenge ourselves on what it will really take to do everything," he said. "And the three things I mentioned here today to you ... really are the key to that endeavor."
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey