The new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff outlined key themes for the military in a letter to the force released Oct. 1.
In his letter, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said service members are America’s "decisive advantage."
First, the chairman wrote, is winning the wars of today.
"As long as our forces remain in harm’s way, we must ensure they have what they need to succeed," he said. About 98,000 American troops serve in Afghanistan today and another 45,000 in Iraq.
But the military also needs to be ready for the future, whatever that might bring or the threats that may emerge, Dempsey noted.
The military must look beyond current requirements, he wrote, "and develop Joint Force 2020 to provide the greatest number of options for our nation’s leaders and to ensure our nation remains immune from coercion," he said.
In the past, Dempsey pointed out, the American military was manned, equipped and trained to defeat a foe – the Germans in World War II, the Soviets in the Cold War. Today, he added, the U.S. military must be ready to move quickly and engage across the spectrum of conflict.
This means keeping U.S. armed services the best-trained, best-equipped, best-led force on the planet, calling this "a non-negotiable imperative."
Acknowledging the constrained fiscal environment, the chairman wrote that he believes the military has overcome similar challenges in the past, and can do so in the future.
Dempsey called on all service members to renew their commitment to the profession of arms.
"We’re not a profession simply because we say we’re a profession," he wrote. "We must continue to learn, to understand and to promote the knowledge, skills, attributes and behaviors that define us as a profession."
Finally, the country must keep faith with all those in the military. He said, "Our active, Guard and reserve service members, our wounded warriors, our families and our veterans deserve the future they have sacrificed to secure."
Dempsey thanked military members for their service, and praised them and their families for their sacrifices.
"You make us the finest military on the planet," he wrote. "We’re powerful, versatile, responsive and resilient. We are admired by our allies and partners, and we are dreaded by our enemies."
Dempsey stressed that he trusts all service members to do what’s right for each other and for the nation.
(Editor’s note: This story is based on an article by Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service.)