tv Army Chief of Staff Well Act When We See Transgender Directive CSPAN July 27, 2017 12:59pm-2:02pm EDT
this is a very, very special occasion for me, i've known so many scouts over the years, inners, i've known so many great people, they've been taught so well and they love the heritage, but this is very special for me and i just want to end by saying very importantly god bless you. god bless the boy scouts. god bless the united states of america. go out, have a great time in life. compete and go out and show me that there is nobody, nobody like a boy scout. thank you very much, everybody. thank you very much. thank you. thank you very much. ♪
♪ live now to the national press club where army chief of staff general mark milley will be today's speaker, he is the top uniformed official in the army assuming his duty as chief of staff back in 2015. live coverage. >> good afternoon and welcome to the national press club the place where news happens. i'm myron belkein the 2014 national press club president and a former correspondent and bureau chief for the associated press in england, india and japan and i now teach journalism and the importance of accuracy at george washington school of media and public affairs. before we get started i want to remind our in-house audience to please silence your phones if
you haven't already done so and for our viewing and listening audience please feel free to follow the prok on twitter at #npclive. and for our c-span and public radio audiences, please be aware that in the audience today are members of the general public, so any applause or reaction you hear is not necessarily from the working press. before i introduced the head table i want to recognize two very special tables on my right and your left in the audience which are comprised of members of the national press club's american legion post 20, which was founded on november 11th, 1919, one year after the signing of the armistice that ended the first world war and for many years was associated with general of the army's john jpersene who was an associate member of the national press club and who served as the tenth
army chief of staff. legionnaires' led by post 20 commander and jim noon, please stand and be acknowledged. >> now i'd like to introduce our head table. please stand when i call your name. and to the audience please hold your applause until all the head table members are introduced. on your right kevin wensing, retired u.s. army captain and a member of the mpc head liner's team that plans these events. brendan mccarry, managing editor of military.com. lisa matt utes, vice president at haguers sharp and co-chair of
the mpc headliners team. ellen mitchell, defense reporter for the hill. scott mscione, defense reporter for federal news radio. yasman tajda, reporter for national defense magazine. josh rogen columnist for the public section of the "washington post." skipping over our speaker for a moment, eric meltser, a senior news production specialist for the associated press and the npc headliners team am he be who coordinated today's lunch. thank you, eric. jim michaels, military reporter for "usa today" and former marine infantry officer. amanda matsias national security reporter for cbs radio who comes
from a military family. david majundar, defense editor for the national interest. and alfredo dias, retired army master sergeant, a veteran of vietnam, iraq and panama and the vice commander of american legion post 20. [ applause ] >> i'd like to acknowledge press club members responsible for organizing today's event, betsy fisher-martin, john donnelly and laurie russo and staff members laura coker and lindsay underwood. >> with just over 1 million active duty and reservist soldiers, the army is the oldest and largest of america's armed services. its fiscal 2018 budget request is about $166 billion, including
proposed war spending. in the context of a roughly $639 billion total pentagon budget request. the army faces a host of challenges today and president trump added a new challenge yesterday with his tweets barring transgender people serving in the military. in case you are not aware, we have some breaking news update on that story which is the news that a little while ago as we were preparing for this lunch marine general joseph dunford the chairman of the chief of staffs and who spoke at the national press club a few weeks ago sent a note, wrote a message to the chiefs of the services and senior enlisted leaders that the military will continue to, quote, treat all of our
personnel with respect, unquote. and the two key paragraphs i will read out, quote, i know there are questions about yesterday's announcement on the transgender policy by the president. there will be no modifications to the current policy until the president's direction has been received by the secretary of defense and the secretary has issued implementation guidance. in the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect as importantly given the current fight and the challenges we face we will all remain focused on accomplishing our assigned missions. general joseph dunford, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. the army's ranks enlarged after 9/11 and they shrank after the iraq and afghanistan drawdowns
and now they have begun to inch back up. the army wants to be sure, though, that if the units are larger that they are also properly trained and equipped. the army and other services have said their readiness, their preparedness to fight is not up to standard. to improve the situation the army wants more money, but everyone agrees it needs to be well spent. the army has had trouble in particular executing large weapons acquisitions and billions were spent on the crusader, co marchy and future combat systems programs, for example, with much less to show for than had originally been planned. the army is battle hardened today but it has mostly waged one particular type of war, counterinsurgency. while tomorrow's fights might be markedly different in character,
to stay ahead of the curve the army is focused on keeping pace with rapid technological change. general mark milley is keenly aware of all of these challenges and is in the midst of addressing them. general milley became the 39th army chief of staff in august 2015. before that he led army forces command at fort bragg in north carolina. he has had multiple staff and command positions in eight divisions and in army special forces units throughout the last 45 years. he has deployed to multiple theaters of conflict. he graduated and received his commission through the rotc program from princeton university, he holds master's degree from columbia university in international relations and the u.s. naval war college and national security and strategic studies. he is the recipient of numerous
military awards including the bronze star. they are too numerous to mention. just look at his chest to see the wide range. general milley is a native of winchester, massachusetts. he and his wife have been married for more than 30 years and have two children. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in a major big welcome from the national press club to army chief of staff general mark milley. [ applause ] >> thank you. i love coming to the national press club and getting headline news as i sit right there coming out of my chairman. that's great. i really appreciate you doing that. so thanks for the opportunity to
be here and i don't know how many of you know it, but myron was also a veteran himself, served in vietnam as a young man, pfc bell kind, he was on general westmoreland's staff in the early years of vietnam, '64, '65, '66 time frame. so thank you also for your service. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> thanks all of you for being here. i'm really here to talk about the new england patriots and how they come back 28-3 or if we want to go red sox or we want to talk the bruins. recent other news probably not a good topic right now, so -- just kidding. no, i realize that everyone here is keenly interested in that which goes on around us and i'm a soldier, a public figure, a chief of staff of the army. as you heard myron say, you know, significant budget, a lot of soldiers, a lot of young men and women of our nation and i feel an obligation to explain
what we do, why we do it and answer questions for the american people and the american people oftentimes get their news -- get their view of us, the army or the military, through the media, it's not exclusively through the media but it's one of the mechanisms and i have an obligation as the chief of staff of the army to do that within bounds of classification i will be happy to do that. what i want to talk today about, really four topics. i have about i think 20 minutes or so and then we want to open the rest of it up to q & a. i won't be able to talk in depth in 20 minutes on many of these topics but i'll throw them out there and if you have follow on questions i will be happy to do it. i want to gi you my view, one man's view of the security challenges that we the united states and as a subset we the united states army are being challenged with around the globe today. secondly i want to tell you a little bit about your army and the current state of readiness and what we prepare for.
thirdly i want to talk a little bit about the future and lastly i want to throw out a couple of myths about military operations that i think anyway are worthwhile discussing. but i do want to reiterate one thing up front, it's this issue of the transgender news that came out the other day and i want to reiterate what general dunford the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff had said. i know there's lots of questions out there, but the military is the military, we operate off of certain processes and sets of orders, et cetera. so to date walking in here i have yet to receive implementation guidance. implementation directives from the department of defense, general mattis and we grow up and learn to obey the chain of command and my chain of command secretary of army and the secretary of defense and the president. so we will work through the implementation guidance when we
get it and then we will move from there. and to my knowledge the department of defense, secretary mattis, hasn't received written directives yet. so i know there is a lot of churn out there about what was said the other day, but that's where we are right now and general dunford is exactly right, we will act when we receive directives through the proper chain of command channels and then we will evaluate what we have and move out from there. in the meantime he's exactly right, and it should be no surprise to anyone, but the entire force, the entire chain of command will, always has, will today and will tomorrow and always should treat every single soldier, sailor, airman, marine, coast guard with dignity and respect for their service and the cloth of our nation, bar none. so that's where we stand as of today. i will be happy to field whatever questions may be on people's minds later on it, but that's about all i'm going to say about it because that's kind of where i'm at right now on
that. okay. so -- but let me shift gears to some other i think so this. i want to talk about the strategic environment, the global strategic environment very briefly. as of right now we define some of the challenges globally, we use a pneumonic four plus one. there is a lot of ways to describe security challenges, you can talk about them functionally such as maritime challenges or cyber challenges. there are other types of challenges, people say the economy, others say climate change, et cetera. within the department of defense at this time broadly speaking we are defining them and it's not the only way to do it and we recognize it, but by a set of nation states, four of which we're talking about, and then one broader challenge which are non-state actors which are terrorists. and i will walk you through each one of those. and we do recognize there's other ways to define security challenges, but it's those security challenges that today that we design the size of the
force, man, train, equip the force, the joint force. i say all of this with a caveat because secretary of defense mattis is leading us, all of us, senior leaders of the department, through a detailed rigorous strategic review, a global strategic review, and i would expect that we will probably complete that perhaps sometime maybe in the fall and then that may or may not change how we view the strategic challenges, but at this point in time the way i look at them is through the lens of four nation states and one non-state -- group of non-state actors. the nation states are russia, china, north korea, iran and the non-state actors are what i would call violent terrorist organizations, violent extremist organizations, but you know the groups, there is a whole potpourri of them, al qaeda, taliban, isis, al nusra front and a whole wide variety of other like-type groups that seek to do damage to u.s. national
interest. let me start with what is clearly the most capable of them which is russia. the way we -- or the way i look at challenges, strategic challenges or threats, is capability and will. and there's a lot of subsets and categories, but that's -- and that's a pretty conventional, by the way, look, that's a pretty normal standard look of people in the military of any country really. it's capability and will. and with russia it is clear that russian military capability is significant and in fact it's the only country on earth that represents an existential threat to the united states because they have the inherent capability of nuclear weapons and we do, too, by the way, that can strike and destroy the united states of america, its government and people. so by definition they have extraordinary capability. other countries have nuclear capability as well but only russia has the capable to destroy the united states. in addition to that there are conventional capability has been
modernized significantly in the last call it five or ten years or so, maybe 15. then you get into will and that's a much more subjective capability piece, you can do the math, add it up, figure it out, but when you get into will or intent that gets quite subjective and there you're dealing with a higher order of estimates and judgments. all we know for certain from behavior is that russia has acted aggressively externally to its boundaries in places like crimea and georgia and in regions of the ukraine and elsewhere. we also know they operate and try to undermine things like elections in european countries and other countries. we know that there's a variety of cyber activity that goes on and a variety of other sorts of non-military direct action pressures that are done. so a very assertive aggressive state. then you ask yourself why, why are they behaving like that and
you will get all kinds of debate on all kinds of arguments and then you have to try to figure out how to handle it. but i would argue, and this is me now, i would argue that russia is a -- the russian leadership is a purely rational actor, they operate off of traditional cost benefit as they perceive it and it is my belief that russian aggression, if you will, or further aggression can be deterred through the proper use of tools and that russia does undermine the united states' interests in europe and elsewhere, but there are also areas of common interest and russia is a state because of its power in the system and it is a great power, russia is a state that the united states needs to carefully and cautiously with dell brat forethought work towards common objectives and then prevent undermining of our interests. that's a delicate balance and we have done that before and we will have to continue to do that. and that will involve assuring our allies and partners in deterring further aggression,
but i believe that with proper methods and leadership, et cetera, that that can be properly managed. china is a different strategic situation. china is a rising power, significant rising power, and i would argue that in china's case you're looking at a country that since the reforms from 1979 and over the last 39 or 40 years china has advanced really significantly in terms of economic development, they were clicking off a 10% gdp growth a year, they slowed down to 7% the last couple years, but it is probably -- and this is open to argument, i suppose, but probably one of the most significant if not the most significant economic shift in global economic power in the last five centuries. really since the rise of the west and the industrial revolution. the chinese economic growth over the last 40 years is really, really, really significant. what does that mean?
historically when economic power shifts so significantly, military power typically follows, and i believe that we're seeing that today and we're seeing a significant increase in the capabilities and capacity, the size and strength of chinese military capabilities. then you get back to will and intent, what's their intent, what's their purpose, what are they trying to do. the chinese have been fairly transparent about that. they have a thing they call the china dream and their intent is to restore their historical 5,000-year-old role to essentially be the significant -- the most significant power in asia and they want to be at least a global co-equal with the united states and they want to achieve that by mid century. they are very transparent, they write books and put articles out about it. they would like to do that peacefully if they can and if they can't do it peacefully that's why they're building that military. so stand by. china is not an enemy. i want to emphasize that. neither is russia for that
matter. enemy for people like me in uniform it has a specific definition and that is a group of people or nation states that you are currently engaged in armed conflict with. that's the word enemy. sometimes words like that get used too loosely. neither china more russia are enemies. we are not engaged in open arm conflict and we want to keep it that way. competition is one thing, even if its adversarial, even if there are some things below the level of conflict that happen that are not necessarily savory, but there is a big difference, a giant difference between open conflict and those activities below open conflict. so competition without conflict is probably a desirable goal, especially with those two countries given the size, capacity, capability of those countries. so that's kind of where we're at. and then china also by the way is a very rational actor, extremely rational, perhaps one of the most rational actors in the system and i believe that through, again, proper leadership, engagement and deterrents and assurance
measures that we can work our way into the future without significant armed conflict. but these are unanswered questions and we won't know until we get there, but that's my estimate at this point. when you get to iran you have a different situation, iran's desire for nuclear weapon has sort of been put on pause. we hope for good, but we're watching that very closely, but even if it is, we can say with certainty that iran consciously and with mall feens of forethought tries to undermine national security interests in the middle east and they do that through a symmetric means, a lot of terrorism and the support of terrorist troops. so we are always in a posture relative to iran to support our friends and allies and partners in the region and to be very, very wary of iran. the fourth country i think is the one that's in the news a lot and rightly so, which i think is the single most dangerous threat facing the international community and facing the united states right now today.
it's in near term significant threat and that is the threat of north korea. i don't want to go into a tremendous amount of detail on t much of it is classified, but it is clear based on what happened over the july 4th weekend that north korea has advanced significantly and quicker than many had expected their intercontinental ballistic missile capability that could possibly strike the united states. more to follow, but the time has shortened significantly and north korea is a significant threat. the united states policy for many, many decades now has been the objective has been that north korea will not possess nuclear weapons and they certainly won't possess nuclear weapons that will strike the united states. we're trying a wide variety of methods in the diplomatic and economic sphere. we the military fully support those. we want those to succeed. there is still time left for that to succeed. this is the pressure campaign that you read about in the media and we are fully in support of the secretary of state and
department of state in their efforts to bring this to a peaceful resolution, however, time is running out a bit. so north korea is extremely dangerous, gets more dangerous as the weeks go by. so we'll see on that one. and last one is the violent extremists or terrorist organizations. i think frankly you have a certain situation in afghanistan, a situation in iraq, a situation in syria, one in yemen and libya, west africa and each one of those has different factors and analysis and every one of them is slightly different in some way so you can't group all of these things in one, however, i would suggest that we are in a very, very long struggle against violent extremist organizations, terrorist organizations that have a very radically different view of the world than we do and they want to consciously kill americans, undermine american interests, also kill all their locals and friends and partners not only in the middle east but elsewhere. we in the military are committed to help in that efforts, our
basic approach to that is to work by, with and through our frentsds and partners in the region and to increase their capabilities and try to reduce terrorist threats to where local police forces and located at intelligence forces can manage those at a local level. and you see what's playing out against isis which i think has been quite successful to date and i think that we will destroy the organizational entity called isis, it will disburse into some other form, but its current form of the caliphate with its very, very actually traditional organizational structures that is likely to be destroyed in the not too distant future, but they will disburse. all of these organizations can morph into different forms and they are all dependent upon a radical ideology which ultimately will have to be destroyed mostly by the people's of the regions to disroy that ideology. so that's sort of a world in a
nutshell as fast as i could do it. let me shift gears to army readiness. you heard myron talk about the army. we don't have a small army and -- but the question on size of forces, army, navy, air force, marines, it's a relative question, it's not an absolute question. it's a question of what do you want it to do, how big do you want it is relative to the tasks you want it to do. the united states military is a global military and we have been for sure since the first world war and with absolute certainty since the bretten ward agreements at the end of world war ii which established essentially the international order, the rules and regimes by which the world runs today. for seven decades the world has had a set of rule sets for free train, international commerce, democracy, the, quote/unquote, liberal world order, things like human rights. there is a wide variety of things out there. then you have institutions that it rests upon, the united
nations and world bank, world trade organization, all of these things that were developed many years ago. and that is essentially what people very quickly refer to as the world order. one of the significant roles of the united states military for seven decades has been to enforce that world order, to maintain it, maintain its stability. and that's in our interest because in the first half of the last century there was a bloodletting unlike any that had ever occurred in the history of mankind. so between 1914 and 1945 100 million people were slaughtered in the conduct of war and that's a horrible, horrible nightmare. my mother and father both served in that war, my mother in the navy and my father in the marines and he hit the beach at iwo jima where 17,000 marines were killed in 19 days, 34,000 wounded, an island that was two miles by four miles. there were millions of chinese
killed in battle and murdered. if you want a real trail of tears go to eastern europe and see what happened in bella ruse and ukraine, latvia, lithuania, it's horrific. nine out of every ten jews that lived in poland weren't alive in 1945. one out of every three maels that lived in the ukraine of belarus were dead by 1945. those people that were in leadership positions in 1945 said never again. they said the same thing in 1815 after the in a uponian nick wars and set up the concert of europe and that worked well for one century, they kept the long peace in europe more or less, there were a couple minor flare-ups, the crimea war and austrian war but there wasn't a continental wide war until 1914. we try it again in 1945 to set up a system that would try to maintain global peace and prevent war between great powers
and great power states throughout the world. that system is under stress, intense stress, today. that system is under stress from revolutionaries and terrorists and gorillas, it's under stress from nation states that don't like the rules of the road, that were written and want to revise those rules of road. that system is under very intense stress and we are at 70 years now and that system has prevented great power war similar to what occurred in the first half of the last century. so the question is how big an army do you want? how big a navy to you want? how much do you want that system? how much do you value that system? is that system worth preserving or not? there inn you get to the size and scope of your armys, navys, air forces and marines. rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly the rule of the arbiter of that system has defaulted to the united states for seven decades. there are other countries, 60 or 70 or so that have allied
themselves with their mill tears to us and they make significant contributions, but it is the united states that's been the leader with that system. so the status of the army as part of the military force that works through help maintain the stability of the world we are a global military and we are a global army and we have right now today about 180,000 soldiers in the united states army, active duty, reserve and national guard deployed in about 140 countries around the world helping to stabilize that system. that's a significant amount of u.s. forces. not all of them are in combat, most of the ones that are in combat are in afghanistan and iraq, syria and elsewhere, but around the entire globe 180,000. that's not a small number. that's about 20% or so of the army as a whole, the total army. the active army is less than 500,000 right now. so based on the tasks that are required i believe that we need a larger army and i know others and my teammates on the joint
staff also think the same of the navy, air force and marines because of the tasks that are required. it's not some arbitrary number, we've done the analysis and we think we need to be bigger and we need to be stronger and more capability which brings me to the fewer tour. first of all, you will never know what the future i think so br. it's my belief that we are in a fundamental change in the nature of the character of war, not the nature of war but the character of war. the nature of war is political. war is a political act, it is an act in which you impose your political will on your opponent through the use of violence. that's what war is. and war is always dealing in the realm of uncertainty, it's always dealing in friction and chance, it's dealing in human will, it's dealing in a lot of areas that are not particularly well measured and that's the nature of war, but the character of war, the way you fight a war, the weapons you fight it with, that does change and it changes frequently. there is a lot of different
drivers for it and it's changed many, many times in the past. i believe that right now we're going through a fundamental change in the character of war, how you fight wars. and there is a couple of things that are driving that, with unis societal, urbanization. so right now we have a significant growth and it's been going on for a century, century and a half of urbanization. but now the curve is being exponential. we think by mid century or so 80 to 90% of the earth's population which is projected to be about 8 billion people will be concentrated in highly dense urban areas. so what does that mean? that means that armies in the past have been optimized to fight in rural areas, gently rolling hills, perhaps the sands and deserts of different countries and we've been suboptimized to fight in jungles or mountains and we've been suboptimized to fight in urban areas. what that means the urbanization of the global population, if war is politics and the politics is all about people then the probability is the future battle
fields are going to be in urban areas. it's not a probability it's a real certainty. you just saw a minor preview of it played out in mosul. it is my belief, then, that the united states army and probably most armies will have to optimize to conduct combat operations in urban areas and that's significantly different when it comes to things like the size of your organization, how you command and control, how you move, how you move through streets, what are the peppen systems, what's the elevation of guns, what's the explosive power, the back blast of rockets that you fire. all of those characteristics change when you shift the terrain from the open country of northern europe or the deserts of the middle east to highly dense urban areas and it requires significant fundamental change. that's an example. but also there's a whole bunch of other factors that are driving change and the fundamentals of the character of warfare, things like technology. we are witnessing, we are on the leading edge of a significant revolution in robotics it is my
belief and i believe that we are seeing those in the commercial sphere more and more, we've already seen them in limited use in military operations, people call them droned, unmanned aerial vehicles, the navy is moving out with sun manned sea vehicles or maritime vehicles. the land domain is much more complex and complicated and difficult to deal with, but eventually we will see the introduction of wide scale robotics, artificial intelligence, i.t., all areas that move, shoot and communicate with being impacted very rapidly right now by technology, unlike at a speed and a scope unlike anything we've seen in history. so the combination of terrain and the combination of technology is significant and i believe leading to a fundamental change in the character of warfare. i know myron wants into he to stop and going into questions and i will do that but let me throw out five myths of war they very, very prevalent and probably more prevalent right here in this city than anywhere else. myth one, in my view, myth one
is that wars will be short. there are wars that have been short in the past but they're pretty rare. most of the time wars take longer than people think they will at the beginning of those wars. so always be wary of the wars will be short. this will be quick. this will be a little dust up, we will achieve victory real fast. be careful of that one. things -- wars have a logic all their own sometimes and they mo of in directions that are highly unexpected. be careful of the short war myth. second is you can win wars from afar. look, wars are about politics. that's what they're about. they're about imposing your political will and they are about people. i'm tell you with a high degree of certainty that human beings can survive horrific things from afar. when my father hit the beach at ee with a jet stream ma he was told the japanese defenders were
dead. at d mines four, four days prior to execution of hitting the beach we rolled up a fleet of 400 -- 400 naval vessels, that's almost twice as big as the united states navy is today for one island and they bombed that island with shells for 96 consecutive hours. there is no eight square miles of the earth that has ever received as much ordinance as the island of iwo jima. almost all the japanese survived. life wasn't good, they were drinking their own urine, they never saw the sunlight, they were deep under ground and they weren't happy campers, but they survived. they survived to the point where they could kill 7,000 marines when they hit the beach. look at what isis has done for almost six months in mosul. they're losing, but it took the infantry and armor and special operations commanders to go into that city house by house, block by block, room by room to clear that city. and it's taken quite a while to
do it and at high cost. what i'm telling you is there is a myth out there that you can win from afar. to impose your political will on the enemy typically requires you at the end of the day to close with and destroy that enemy up close with ground forces and i'm very wary of the win from afar myth. third myth, special forces can do it all. i'm a proud green beret, love special forces. special forces are designated with that name for a reason, they are special, they do certain special activities typically of a strategic nature, they highly trained, highly vetted. the one thing they are not designed to do is win a war. they can do raids, they can train other countries, there's lots of other things they can do. winning a war in and by themselves is not one of their tasks. it is a myth they just throw special forces at it and it's magic dust and it works. we love it because they're highly trained, very quiet, not
in the news, it's great, but winning wars is not in their job jar by themselves. last two, armies are easy to create. they are not easy to create. there is a myth that you can just bring kids into the military, march them around a field a little bit, six, eight weeks of training and, boom, you have aen army. wrong answer. it takes considerable amount of time to buildings armys, that he was, air forces and marines. and the last thing i will throw out there is the myth that we in uniform sometimes propagate this myth is that armies fight wars. we don't. armies don't fight wars, navys, air forces, they don't fight wars, nations fight wars. it takes the full commitment of the entire nation to fight wars. we can do a raid real quick, that's one thing, but war is a different thing and it takes a nation to fight and win a war. so i will stop there, that's
probably a little longer than you wanted, but that's what you got. [ applause ] >> i always tell my students, general, it's not the length of a story or the length of a speech, it's the content and speaking objectively you gave us a hell of a lot of content and we appreciate it. now for a few questions, as you mentioned, we still have a few questions from -- on the transgender issue and i'd just like to ask as follows -- >> let me turn to my answer. >> has the army faced problems with having transgender people serving in its ranks? >> i mean, look, i will be candid there is a variety of issues. i was telling josh here this is a complex issue and there is a variety of challenges out there that we have to deal with and when we've been working through it, but this is not clean cut
either way. so the short answer to your question is, yes, yeah, we've had to deal with problems. we don't get it in the media, we deal with it professionally, quietly, with dignity and respect for the individual and institution. >> did you have advanced knowledge that the president would be issuing the ban via twitter yesterday? >> i personally did not, but nor would i have expected to. i notice that's been in the media out there. i, like i said up front, it's a chain of command thing and i render my advice through the chain of command which in my case would be -- i render general dunford and secretary mattis and they would render it back to me. so no personally, no, the president didn't say, hey, mark, i'm doing this. no, he didn't do that, but nor would i expect him to do it nor is there any requirement to do that. >> how did you learn of the president's decision? >> well -- >> when he sent out the tweets yesterday. >> same way everyone else did, i saw it on the news. but, again, we're trying to make this out -- or some people are trying to make this out as if
that is particularly unique. if i could count on -- if i had a nickel for every time i read decisions in the news over the last 10, 15, 20 years i'd probably be a pretty wealthy guy right now. >> so it's not particularly unusual to read about things in the media. that's why in my office i have like six screens and i have the scrolls going every which way and i'm always looking for the breaking news thing. did i know that? so, you know, the people can say what they want about the media but the one thing you are is fast. >> and accurate. >> accurate sometimes, but fast. fast all the time. [ applause ] >> what have been the main challenges so far in integrating women into the infantry and other combat arms? >> so this is a point actually a
bit of pride actually. we did a lot of intensive study, a lot of analytical rigor on how to do this. right? and it took us three or four years of intense study, studied other armies, we did en personalities, we did pilot programs, all kinds of inside baseball stuff that we did and today the execution of that policy is actually working well to date and what i had recommended and what we were granted was i said let -- i recommended to do this, women in the infantry, there were others who disagreed, but i recommended to do women in the infantry or special forces and armor, right? and i said give me three years, 36 months. now that we've done all the analysis let me have three years to run this and see its impact on readiness and our war fighting capabilities. if i see a decrement in
readiness and war fighting capabilities i will be the first one to come back to you, secretary of defense and tell you we need to change. this didn't work. it was a great idea but it didn't work sort of thing. that's what we're doing, we are in the first 36 months. thus far it seems to be going okay, it's working well, but again, i comment on that because though a lot of preparatory work went into doing that, we have our first woman infantry company commanding the 82nd airborne division, women that have been commissioned as infantry officers, a variety of enlisted and nco that are spread out. a couple principles that we put in place, i wanted to narrow the focus because it is still an experiment. so for 36 months i wanted to narrow the focus to forth brag and forth hood and that's where the women are being assigned. and then i also insisted that we have leaders first so the sergeants and lieutenants had to go into units first.
and the third one is that it's sort of a mantra is that the military should be -- should and is standards based. so there's standards of performance, standards of conduct, standards of fitness and medical standards. if you're meeting those standards, pass go, collect 200 and move out. if you don't then you're going to do some alternative, you know -- either in the military or we will get you out of the military, but it's a standards-based military and you rise to the level of success based on your merit sort of thing and your performance. that's inherent in the wearing of the uniform and we're very strict about it. that's where we are. right now the women that are in the infantry have met the standard of the united states military and it's going okay. the numbers are very small. frankly i expect they will be small for many years if not
forever. the canadian army has had women in the infantry for 30 plus years. they have a very tiny percentage of women. but it doesn't matter how many want to do it, i don't think they should be denied, my personal opinion is no one should be denied if you meet the standard, drive on. if you don't, try something else. >> could you say a few words, sir, about continuing efforts to reduce sexual harassment in the army and how is that going? >> it's a challenge. it's hard. the numbers have come down which is good. numbers -- reporting numbers have gone up. reporting in the sense of the way the system is designed to indicate that women have -- and it's not just women by the way there are guys that get sexual assaulted as well, but victims have greater confidence today than say they did four or five years ago in chain of command and the victims advocates and the results that will come of it. is it perfect?
no, not by a long shot. there's sexual assault, there's sexual harassment in the military. we only have 15, 16, 17% or so of the military are women, although west point's last class that just got admitted i think is 23% women. but, you know, there's no excuse for any of it. to me it has to do with good order of cohesion, discipline. i think of it as blue on blue, i don't know if you're familiar with that term, but i think of it as fratricide. if i was to go out and, say, conduct a live fire range or i was in a fire fight with the enemy, shooting your fellow soldiers by accident is not a good thing and serious consequences happen to chains of command when you have fratricide in training or in combat, but in training, live fire is an example. well, if you go out and sexual
assault someone, that's fratricide. you're beating up on your own unit. so there needs to be and there is very, very serious consequences to it. not only to the individual, but to the chain of command. if a chain of command has significant multiples of these type incidents in a unit that speaks volumes about the good order and discipline of the force. every commander knows full well that they are responsible for the -- everything the unit does and fails to do and they are responsible for the good order and discipline of their unit. if they have an ill disciplined unit then you probably need a new commander. so some of this stuff is pretty straightforward at least for me. there's no room for it. there's no excuse for it. and there is no coal rans of it, period. it's just the way it is. it's the rules sort of thing. >> according to the question that's been submitted here the quotes that defense secretary mattis is saying in response to a question, what keeps you awake at night and he replied,
nothing, i keep other people awake at night. do you feel the same way? does anything keep you awake at night? >> yes, general mattis. [ laughter ] >> no, he's -- you know, this nation -- i've known general mattis for a long time and of course, you know, many people have and he is a national figure, et cetera. but this nation is truly blessed, actually, to have him as our secretary of defense, he is a remarkable individual, he's tremendous, competent, deliberate, he thinks things through, very, very squared away this guy. he promised us that he would give us 400 calories a day and three hours of sleep and that's exactly what we get. no, he's great and he works hard and he's utterly dedicated to the defense of this nation and, no, he doesn't keep us up at night in that sense, but his quote is a great quote.
>> to answer your question, no, there's nothing -- do i toss and turn every night? no. but to take -- that's the literal answer, but to take your question more figuratively the one thing i'm worried about frankly candidly, this situation with north korea is very serious, it is a very, very, very serious situation and not only for the united states and south korea and japan, but for china, for russia, for the global community and it's a very serious situation and it's not going in good directions. >> those of us that are old enough to remember remember the korean war. >> that's right. >> what would you envision if there was a ground war with north korea, what would it encompass? what would it look like? >> let me use descriptive words rather than kind of specifics
because obviously we have plans and kind of different things that shouldn't be talked about in public. but a war in the korean peninsula would be peninsula would be highly deadly. it would be horrific to i think general mattis said cat trofk or horrific or something like that. and it would. think about it, you've got a city of souls, 25 million people or so in the greater metropolitan area, 10 million people in the city itself. north korea has a wide array of conventional artillery and rockets across the border. they've got a sizable conventional force, they have a sizable chemical capability not even including the nuclear weapon piece. do i think that north korea's military would be destroyed? i do. i think that the united states military, i believe absolutely that the united states military in combination with the south korean military would utterly destroy the north korean military, but that would be done
at high cost in terms of human life. in terms of infrastructure. there are economic consequences to a war on the korean peninsula. war on the korean peninsula would be terrible, however a nuclear weapon dead nating in los angeles would be terrible. and this -- some real the comment out there there are no good options is a very apt point. go back 25 years in history of dealing with north korea, but the fact of the matter is we are at a point in time where choices will have to be made one way or the other. none of these choices are particularly palatable. none of them are good. the consequences of doing nothing is not good.
the consequences of accepting them with a nuclear weapon that could strike the united states is not good. the consequence of armed conflict is not good. the consequences of, you know, a collapsed north korea is not good. a wide variety of scenarios. so the idea of the down sides of all these options are bad. that's true. they are. that doesn't relieve us of the responsibility of choice. and we are going to have to make conscious decisions that are going to have significant consequences. and i'll just stop there. but it would be -- it's not going to be a pretty picture. i can tell you that. it will be very violent. >> no northeast asia to south asia, we have journalists here from the subcontinent one of whom asked because of tension between china and india on thein do chinese border, do you have any comments on a possible usa role in that region?
>> we're monitoring it. we're tracking it. but, no role, not that i'm aware of other than to try to encourage both parties to, you know, deescalate and reduce tensions. >> six months into the administration there's still no army secretary. what is the consequences of that? and how does it affect your job? >> it would -- you know, we have intent to nominate guy named mark esper. his name's out there. we had two nominees, both withdrew for a variety of reasons. it's best to have a secretary. there are a variety of, you know, authorities and -- that come with having a secretary. but having said that, the way the system is built, no one man is indispensable so to speak.
so bob spear it was designated as the acting secretary and has been since the inauguration. he's done a wonderful job and he's doing a great job. grant it he's an acting secretary, but i'm an acting chief of staff for a period of time too. so we're all acting in a sense that all of our timelines are always constrained, limited any time you're in an appointed position in government service. bob spear has been doing a good job for five or six months. i would argue not having a quote/unquote full fledged secretary of the army has not been catastrophic. the professional civilians, army department of civilians have step up and done a tremendous job. and that includes secretary spear. so we'll work through it. i think it's better to have one than not. but it's not catastrophic not to have one either. >> we have two questions similarly tied together about tank warfare. >> yes. >> with russia preparing to have its new tank, the t-14 armada
enter service in 2020. >> right. >> do you worry at all that the united states or its nato allies may be at a disadvantage? and should there be an increased focus on tank warfare and modernizing our fleet? what technologies would you like to see developed? >> yeah, so i have an entire group of people digging into that exact issue. it's a new family of vehicles and mechanized one. so let me go back to the basic question of, you know, have tanks and mechanized war and conflict between ground armies, has that gone the way of the dinosaur? in 1914 there were guys around who were wearing three and four stars who were adamantly adhered to the role of the horse calvary, then the horse calvary ran into machine guns and things didn't go so well in 1914 for the horse calvary. so are we sort of at that point in history where perhaps
mechanized vehicles are going the way of horse calvary and going the way of the dinosaur? i don't think so. but i'm skeptical enough to continue to ask that. we have a good solid tank today. the m-1 tank, and the m-1 tank that you see today visually looks exactly like the tank from 1980 when i was second lieutenant. it is not exactly the same thing. the insides of that thing and the firing mechanisms, the engine compartments, armor, et cetera, that's all been upgraded and modified over the years. having said that, we do need a new ground armored platform for our mechanized infantry and our tanks. because it's my belief, at least in the foreseeable future and call that out to say 25 years or so, there is a role to play in ground warfare for those type of formations. and the tank we have today and
the bradley for that matter came online in 1980, almost 40 years ago, i do think we need to do that. as active protective systems, reduced crews with automated tor rets, but the real sort of holy grail of technologies that i'm trying to find on this thing is material it the armor itself. because if we can discover a material like a lot of research and development going into it, if we can discover material that is significantly lighter in weight that gives you the same armor protection, that would be a real significant breakthrough. and the last piece of technology is, we've been using kinetic or powder based munitions for five centuries. and there are advances in nonpowder kinetics such as rail guns, et cetera. and the last piece is robotics. every vehicle we develop we probably need to make sure it's dual use so the commander in the
battle at the time has the option of having that vehicle manned or unmanned. they can flip a switch and it can be a robot. so those are some of the technologies we want to see get built into ground vehicles, not just tanks. >> we have a little traditional presentation. and then we will have a light question at the end. >> a light question? >> i think you'll like it. general, while you have received many medals and awards during your distinguished military career, we have something we feel is very special to present to you today to mark your visit. something that many other national and international leaders including the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff a few weeks ago received when they have spoken at the national press club. and they've proudly display in their offices and please do let me know if the next time you go into general dunford's office if you see the coveted national
press club mug. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> i was in his office the other day and, i did not see it. he was actually drinking out of it. uses it all the time. >> general, for our concluding question which as they say by tradition is given in a light hearted manner, we have an anonymous source, we don't like to use anonymous sources, but they tell us anonymous sources tell us that you are a big boston red sox fan. >> yes. >> so what do you think about the red sox cutting third baseman pablo sandoval? and will it affect the chances of winning the world series? >> it will have no effect. we will win the world series. [ applause ] >> we have 30 seconds. >> another one? is this on the patriots? >> no. general, you played ice hockey
at princeton. >> correct. >> and pleased our researchers get things right. back in april 2016 when you were visiting fenway park you said you were supposed to get drafted into the nhl, the national hockey league. if you had to choose, where would you have signed? >> i did play, you know, when you're 16 and 17 you actually have dreams, so my brother convinced me i was good enough to play in the nhl. i never was, but i always wanted to. for some reason i think they drafted a different guy named milley and forgot my name so i didn't make it. but if drafted, the bruins, absolutely. how could there be any other team? >> ladies and gentlemen, a warm thank you to our guest of honor general mark milley. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> one final request the general has another important engagement, more important than the national press club, i take it. >> i don't know.
i never know what i'm doing. i have to ask my people. >> we're told he has to leave promptly, so could you just remain seated for about 30 seconds while the general leaves. and once again, thank you all for coming to the national press clubs where i think it was demonstrated thanks to our guest of honor today that this is the place where news is made. ladies and gentlemen, we are adjourned. [ applause ]