State News

Mullen addresses soldiers and wounded warriors

Posted June 2, 2010
Updated June 5, 2010

— The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday visited a wounded warrior unit and met with junior officers and enlisted soldiers at Fort Bragg.

Adm. Mike Mullen held an "All Hands Call" with soldiers and visited the post's Warrior Transition Battalion, the 18th Airborne Corps, and the United States Army Special Operations Command.

Mullen told the soldiers that he doesn't see any end to military deployments, but troops will likely be able to spend twice as long at home between tours.

"We are moving to a point over the next 12- to-24 months where units will be home two years before they have to deploy again for a year,” he said.

Mullen said relief will come more slowly, however, for Fort Bragg's Special Forces soldiers.

"Their demands have been as high, or higher, than any we have in the military,” he said.

Joint Chiefs of Staff talks with Fort Bragg troops Joint Chiefs of Staff talks with Fort Bragg troops

One soldier in the crowd raised concerns about the base realignment law known as BRAC, which is bringing the headquarters of two large Army commands to Fort Bragg. She questioned whether the post will have enough support services, such has medical care, for the additional commands.

"There are a lot of people that are working hard on plans at Army posts all over the country to transition through BRAC, and through movements of commands, and I want to make sure that I understand it and get it right for them,” Mullen said.

Another soldier brought up the "don't ask, don't tell" law that bans gays from serving openly in the military.

Mullen said he supports repealing it, and that the U.S. House and a Senate committee have already voted to end it. But he stressed that is not the final vote and troops will have a say.

"Their voices have been critical, will be critical, which is one of the reasons I encourage them to make sure their views are known,” Mullen said.

Mullen also talked about the war in Afghanistan, where last month the toll of American dead, since the conflict began in 2001, passed 1,000. Mullen said providing security in Kandahar is key to fostering peace in Afghanistan.

“It’s as significant in the Afghanistan campaign as Baghdad was in the surge in 2007,” he explained. “As we look at Kandahar over the next many months, I think the government structure and the ability to provide for the people there is really key."

After spending the afternoon at Fort Bragg, Mullen said of the soldiers, “By and large their morale is good. They’re in the fight. They’re doing what they joined up to do. They’re really good at it.”

Mullen, the president's chief military adviser, has been the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2007. He is a 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy.

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