A CONVERSATION WITH
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY
TUESDAY, MAY 1, 2012
Jessica Tuchman Mathews
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
General Martin E. Dempsey
Joint Chiefs of Staff
GENERAL MARTIN DEMPSEY :: So let me – I want to say a few words, and I think then we’ll have the chance to have that conversation that’s advertised up there. The subtext I think that I would like to suggest is making strategy work. You know that over the past months we’ve formulated what I guess is now being called the new defense strategy, but it is a – it is new in several important ways. And I’ll mention three of them.
It starts with intellectual bandwidth more than anything else, which is why I’m happy to be here with you today – one of the centers of gravity of thinking of – about national security matters in our country. And we have to shift some of our intellectual bandwidth and start to understand how to – how to rebalance ourselves. So it’s not just about resources or equipment or basing; it’s about thinking. And we are beginning that process now.
The second thing is building partners. One of the cornerstones of our new strategy is building partners. And this is not of necessity because we’ll be doing less. It’s because the world that we have seen evolve around us over the last, let’s say, 20 years in general but 10 years in particular is a world in which – I’ve described it as a security paradox, where although evolutionary – we’re at an evolutionary low in violence in the world right now. But it doesn’t feel like that really, does it? And it doesn’t feel like that because the – there’s a proliferation of capabilities, technologies to middle-weight actors, nonstate actors that actually makes the world feel and potentially be more dangerous than any time I remember in uniform. And now recall that I came in the Army in 1974.
So building partners is the second. The first was rebalancing to the Pacific; the second one is building partners. The third – the third aspect of this new strategy is the integration of capabilities that we didn’t have 10 years ago. And of course most of them are probably fairly obvious to you. If we were having this conversation 10 years ago, we – the acronym ISR would have been somewhat elusive to all but the – but the lifelong practitioner of the military art. I’d venture to say that most of you in the audience there probably have heard that term ISR. The acronym itself means intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It’s been blended into that acronym, and it – fundamentally it means our ability to collect intelligence and information, full-motion videos, signals intelligence, remotely in ways that frankly 10 years ago would – 15 years ago certainly would have been the stuff of a science fiction novel. But we can do it today.
The second one is cyber and the domain that we call cyberspace – domain in the sense that it has its own unique requirements. It has its own unique capabilities. It has its own vulnerabilities. And it has its own opportunities. And we’ve learned a lot about it over the past 10 years. We must continue to learn, and we have to integrate it. And the third one, of course, is special operating forces, which, over the past 10 years or so, have increased about four-fold in number, but I would venture to say 25-fold in capability.
Air-Sea Battle is obviously the Air Force’s and the – and the Navy’s approach to overcoming anti-access. But it sits nested under something that I actually own, if you will, which is the Joint Operational Access Concept. So the chairman, in collaboration with combatant commanders, has a concept to ensure we can overcome anti-access in all domains – anti-access in the land domain.
What might prevent access in the land domain? IEDS, for example, which have become an adversary’s asymmetric way of denying us access even when they’re – we are far superior to them in terms of numbers and technology ability. So joint operational access is intended to ensure our freedom of movement as a military
Q: Hi. My name is Anne Rutherford (sp), and I’m just a mom from Severna Park. I was wondering – we have a lot of people who say that the Pakistani ISI was well-aware of Osama bin Laden’s –
GEN. DEMPSEY: Mmm hmm.
Q: — presence there. And how do you address working with them as a partner and also how that would lead into the green-on-blue attacks in Afghanistan and all the undercurrent of that – (inaudible) –
GEN. DEMPSEY: Yeah. There’s a – there’s a lot of threads in – that come together to form that question. The question of our relationship with Pakistan in general is one of complexity, I mean, deep complexity, also some pretty significant commitment military-to-military, a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of mistrust fundamentally that has – and this is not a new phenomena. It goes back, truthfully, decades.
For example, officers of my generation have a pretty close relationship with each other because we went to each other’s schools, we’ve gotten to know each other over time. But there’s a generation behind that, for reasons that are – that are pretty well-known, didn’t come to our schools; we didn’t engage with them. And so we’ve got these kind of generational gaps in our relationship that frankly create a lot of mistrust and misunderstanding. There – we are concerned, have been concerned, have been pretty upfront with them. I try not to – not to have the relationship play out in public but rather work it as closely as I can privately. But I do remain concerned about the safe havens that run along the eastern Afghan border, the western Pakistan border. The green-on-blue that you’re describing, for those of you that aren’t exactly familiar with that phraseology, is the insider threat or the act of Afghan soldiers or policemen turning on their U.S. or coalition partners. It’s related but it’s not – that’s not one that I can see particularly a cause and effect. The green-on-blue is if we take a hundred instances – even that issue’s complex – if we took a hundred of them, probably 25 of them would be based on ideological and religious differences, maybe even affiliation with the Taliban, maybe even affiliated with the Pakistan Taliban. I mean, everyone has its own challenge. The other 75 of that hundred would be for other reasons, whether it’s tribal or having been insulted or felt like they weren’t respected or internal problems to that particular Afghan soldier’s family, much like we sometimes see with the pressures of war on our own families.
So it’s a huge challenge. And I – and I think you know that what we’re – what we’re working on is we’re working on it from several different directions, one is counterintelligence operations inside of those formations ourselves, biometrics, education, tactics, techniques and procedures when we’re with and around them that I wouldn’t state publicly, but that allow us to always be protected. So it’s extraordinarily complex. But the relationship with Pakistan is my most – my most complex relationship, but one to which I’m committed to trying to find increasingly common interests, certainly along the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.