Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen gave the inaugural lecture for the Wilson Center’s Lee Hamilton Lecture Series on Civil Defense and Democracy on May 25. In his wide-ranging address, Adm. Mullen presented some of his observations and comments on the current and future challenges to the United States. Adm. Mullen predicts that as we move into the 21st century we will see a reduction of U.S. military presence in the Middle East, a “diffusion of power” based on shifting economic power and demographic trends, and the rise of “a certain pragmatism about the limitations of military force.” As the federal deficit will require challenging trade offs particularly for the military, Adm. Mullen stressed the importance of prioritization in order to responsibly maintain an effective and flexible military force that, along with smart decisions in diplomacy and development, will contribute to national security.
At the end of his speech, Adm. Mullen fielded an array of questions from the audience spanning topics such as the disclosure of intelligence capabilities and the Navy SEALs, the Arab Spring, the war in Afghanistan, the domestic budget discussion, and the role of diplomacy, development and defense in Africa. Take a look, and, as always, we welcome your comments!