Mullen's Statement

/ April 6, 2009 at 5:00 AM

The statement of Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as released by the Pentagon:

I fully support the program decisions Secretary Gates has laid out today. None of them was easy to make. All of them are vital to the future.

These decisions put our people first. I have said and remain convinced the best way to guarantee our future is to support our troops and their families. It is the "recruit" and "retain" choices of American families that will make or break the all volunteer force. I could not agree more strongly with him making this his top priority.

The Secretary also took pains to shape that force by seeking better balance. If adopted in the President’s budget and passed into law, his recommendations will improve critical "enablers," such as aviation, special forces, cyber operations, civil affairs, intelligence analysis, unmanned aerial vehicles, MRAPs, and language skills. These are the capabilities we desperately need for the wars we are fighting and the ones we are likely to fight in years to come.

Some will argue he is tilting dangerously away from conventional capabilities. He is not. His decisions with respect to missile defense, tactical aviation, shipbuilding, Army modernization, ISR, and communications bear witness to his commitment to preserving our traditional strengths. In truth, he is evening out what has been in this time of war a fairly lop-sided approach to defense acquisition.

If we are what we buy, one might conclude we have become the world’s finest counter-insurgency force by sheer will alone. We simply must invest more aggressively in this vital mission.

Our ground forces remain our center of gravity in the current fight. The Secretary has protected the size of those forces. By adjusting active Army BCT growth to 45, he has ensured our ability to impact the fight sooner, increase dwell time, and reduce overall demand on equipment. This commitment will provide better manned units and end stop-loss. He has also provided for a healthy and attainable Army modernization program.

In all this, Secretary Gates is working hard to fix a flawed procurement process. Programs that aren’t performing well are getting the scrutiny they deserve. The acquisition workforce is getting the manpower and expertise it merits. And a struggling industrial base is getting the support and the oversight it warrants. More critically, we -- the military leadership of the nation -- are getting the top-down guidance we need to develop the right warfighting capabilities.

The Secretary presided over a comprehensive and collaborative process to arrive at his decisions. Every Service Chief and Combatant Commander had a voice, and every one of them used it. I know I speak for all of them when I say we are prepared to execute each and every one of these recommendations.