Balancing Act

Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said June 10 he agrees with the assertion by Defense Secretary Robert Gates that the Pentagon bureaucracy has been too focused on preparing for the next major conflict as opposed to concentrating on the ongoing counterinsurgencies being fought in the war on terror. Gates has referred to this condition unflatteringly as “next-war-itis.” “I think there has been a lack of balance on the one hand” in applying “the capability we need for these [current] wars,” Mullentold defense reporters when discussing Afghanistan and Iraq during a meeting in Washington D.C. “We need to do it as rapidly as we can, and the Pentagon is not famous for speed.” Examples include meeting the burgeoning demand for significant intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability, he said. But, at the same time, Mullen said “there continues to need to be a balance” between applying resources and energy towards the current fights and preparing for future possibilities. “We clearly have got to focus on what we are doing now, but we cannot take our eye off of the ball for the long term either,” Mullen said. “There are long-term requirements that we have got to meet.”