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f_0010078_7825 - Striking Balance on National Defense...

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Fall 2008 The Ambassadors REVIEW 7 Striking Balance on National Defense Admiral Mike Mullen Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff e have been raised in this country to believe that the defense of our vital national interests is largely the province of the Pentagon. National security, the theory goes, is for the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force to figure out. And in the wake of World War II and throughout much of the Cold War, that was a pretty safe assumption. Not anymore. National defense today must be considered by every American citizen a truly national concern. Indeed it should be considered an international concern for we are surely more tied to our neighbors in the need for greater security than we even dare to imagine. As the Secretary of Defense recently said to an audience in Oxford, England, “Today we face a set of global security challenges unprecedented in complexity and scope.” They are challenges that call for a truly balanced way of looking at national defense. There must be balance in terms of our approach, balance in terms of our capabilities, and balance in the way we support our troops and their families. Consider recent events in the border region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Ethnically disparate groups of extremists and militants there are now cooperating with each other in an almost syndicate-like manner, killing innocent people and coalition troops in the process. Why should we care? Because should the United States fall victim to another major terrorist attack, I am convinced we will find that it was planned and perhaps resourced by groups operating in this region. We are acting to defend our troops from threats across that border. The Pakistani military is also acting to eliminate the safe havens there, but, like us, they recognize that real progress can only come through concerted efforts across the whole of government to make life inhospitable to extremism. * A threat like that—one based on a violent ideology—will not be defeated solely through military might. That’s why we have invested so much in our Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s why we are working hard to develop a new strategy to get at the larger issues of political and economic stability in the * Editor’s Note : The New York Times of October 1, 2008, reported that General David H. Petraeus “said in
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