'Daunted' But Ready

By Tony Bertuca / February 24, 2011 at 4:06 PM

Ft. Lauderdale, FL -- In one of his first public speaking engagements since being nominated to become the Army's next chief of staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey said today that he feels "daunted" given the challenges he will face if confirmed for the job.

"Nothing they ask me in confirmation is going to make me feel any more about the burden I'm being asked to carry," he said in a speech here at an Association of the U.S. Army conference. "By the way, I'm absolutely honored to be asked to carry that burden. But you know how hard it's going to be to get this right going forward. There are challenges facing the country."

Should Dempsey, currently the chief of Training and Doctrine command, be confirmed by the Senate, he will be stepping to the helm of an Army dealing with an ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, a changing role in Iraq, tightening budgets at home and an acquisition process leaders say badly needs reform.

Dempsey said a recipe for success was in knowing that assumptions are usually wrong and he emphasized putting mechanisms in place to adapt to change and develop strong leaders.

"It's never exactly right," he said. "We don't ever get the future right in general, and try as we may, we're not going to get the organization, the equipment and the guidance right. Who pulls that together? It's the leaders we develop."

Creating true adaptability means becoming faster, flatter, more collaborative and resource-sensitive, he said. "Throughout the next four [program objective memorandum] submissions, we will build the Army that will be employed in 2020," he said. "We're building it in full knowledge that that Army will not be the Army we need in 2030. That means adaptation must be our institutional imperative.

"We have to revise our concepts every two years," he added. "It means we should expect significant organization redesign every five years. It means incremental modernization with five-to-seven-year procurement objectives synchronized to [Army Force Generation]. It means revisiting of doctrine and training methodologies and leader development programs every one to two years."

Dempsey, who is awaiting confirmation, did not delve into specifics but was upbeat about the future. "I think Henry Ford was right -- if you think you can, you can; if you think you can't, you probably can't," he said. "I think we can."