Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visits Ft. Sill

Lawton_Fort Sill Soldiers were visited by the highest ranking military officer in the country.  Tuesday, newly appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen made Fort Sill his first visit since becoming Chair.  He's the primary military advisor to the President, Secretary of Defense, National Security and Homeland Security Councils.

He sat down with some Army Captains to talk about what his plans for the nation are and what they need to be.  Admiral Mullen has three priorities he wants to work on:

  • First - to quickly develop a military strategy for the Middle East
  • Second - reconstitute, reset and revitalize our armed forces, especially the ground forces which means lengthening the times between deployments
  • Third - to broaden our concerns from Iraq and Afghanistan to a more global awareness of warfare.

"Quite frankly, it adds a lot of prestige to Fort Sill and maybe somebody's actually listening to us and cares about what we're doing here.  And I think they always have, but today, it proves it," says Captain Nathan Moore.  Admiral Mullen arrived at Fort Sill early this morning for a meeting with Major General Peter Vangjel - the Commanding General at Fort Sill.  "He's a stellar example of an experienced leader who cares," Vangjel said.

Mullen addressed the Field Artillery Captain's career course about the direction he intends to lead the military - and then, took time to listen to their concerns.  "But really the value of this is to hear what you guys have to say," he said.

Fort Sill Captains took time to prepare their questions.  "The questions we ask and the things we suggest may actually make changes in policies," said Captain Shawn Gardner.  "So we've been putting a lot of thought into the kinds of things that would, from our experiences, could be a benefit to the Army."

Some questions were very sensitive and 7News had to turn cameras off to protect any soldiers from hurting their reputations.  Captains asked the Chairman about their spouse's employment, use of civilians in combat - and there was one question that kept coming back.  Why such a quick turnover in deployment?

Mullen was very honest in his answers.  He understood that it's not good enough.  "And how do we change that as rapidly as we can?" he said.  He said it will take time to fix the problem, that the soldiers are his main concern.  "So preserving this, making sure that we don't break our military is a huge priority," he said.

Mullen shook the hand of every Captain and thanked them for their service.  He gave each of them a Commander's Coin - a military tradition used to improve morale.  Since Chairman Mullen is new to the office, some of the questions asked will take further research.  But, Mullen has collected names and emails and will take the time to respond to all of their questions.