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American Forces Press Service

Dempsey Discusses Fiscal Tightening, Progress in Afghanistan

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2012 – U.S. Africa Command's ability to adapt to having fewer resources than its commander would like is an example of the thinking the entire military will need in an era of fiscal restraint, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told service members yesterday during a town hall meeting in Stuttgart, Germany.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey acknowledged that Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of the Stuttgart-based command, would prefer to have more maritime support, as well as more aviation and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets.

"But you are getting it done," Dempsey said. "Africom is forced to network differently -- conventional, special operations forces, other agencies of government -- because of the limited resources." This, he said, means the service members and civilians assigned to the combatant command have to be creative.

The chairman emphasized that all segments of the military are going to have to perform their missions with less resources. The U.S. fiscal condition is changing, he said, and DOD must adapt.

"We don't have to be the solution, but we have to be part of the solution," he said. "We're going to have to think about how we take this wonderful instrument of military power and its most decisive instrument, which is human capital … to use that capital to influence security around the world."

Just back from a trip to Afghanistan as well as other stops in the Middle East and Europe, the chairman told troops in Stuttgart that progress in Afghanistan has not always been easy to recognize.

"Afghanistan just happens to be one of the most-complex places on the face of the Earth," Dempsey said, noting Afghanistan likely will experience security challenges in the years ahead.

However, he added, Afghanistan also demonstrates signs of progress.

For example, in 2002 "approximately 800,000 boys were going to school in Afghanistan and zero women," the chairman said.

"Today the number is 8 million [Afghan students] and 35 percent of them are women," Dempsey said. "That's got to make a difference over time."

Also in 2002, 15 percent of Afghans had access to medical care, and today that number is 60 percent, he said.

"Child mortality rates are [now] on par with most nations of the world, which is incredible compared with what they were," Dempsey said.

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