May 14, 2014
Dempsey Calls for Innovation in Defense
Keynote Address by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey
The general also insisted that he was “not pining for that degree of clarity,” but he also observed that new tools are required for dynamically managing a more complex security environment. The United States and its allies face heavyweight competitors (Russia, China), middleweight adversaries (Iran, North Korea), nefarious networks (al-Qaeda, transnational criminals), and the fierce domain of cyber security. As his team wrote in the recent Quadrennial Defense Review, he fears that we will not innovate quickly enough for new challenges.
And yet, despite this political instability—and the focus of our conference!—Dempsey believes that “we don’t need to make disruptive changes.” The United States has a remarkably good military for conflicts large and small. To live within the means of the Budget Control Act, the general believes that the United States needs to lower the cost of its defense, in manpower and excess and infrastructure, and to innovate for greater agility in forward-deploying forces, to provide “dynamic presence” where it is most needed overseas. The military he seeks is one that will “do less with less, but not less well.” And while he and the rest of the Joint Chiefs believe that there is no crisis today, there will be in a few years without that change.
Senior Fellow James Hasik provides some summary thoughts on the keynote address by General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Atlantic Council’s conference Disrupting Defense: Dynamic Security in an Age of New Technologies.