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Top U.S. military officer offers Airmen, families insight on change during JB CHS visit

By Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | June 03, 2010

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen brought his insight and leadership to Joint Base Charleston June 3 during an all hands call hosted at the base theater, delivering his remarks to more than 700 Airmen following the presentation of three Bronze Star medals.

Taking the stage without the customary playing of "Ruffles and Flourishes," the admiral quietly brought the choreographed Bronze Star ceremony to a halt, directed the room's attention to the medal recipients' family members and invited them on stage to join in the ceremony.

"Thanks to your families," he said. "Thanks to your families for the support that they have provided ... The Air Force has been at the tip of the spear since Desert Storm. We have pushed you, pushed the Air Force, pushed our Airmen hard, and families, and you have really met the task time and time again - set the example in so many ways."

In his address, the admiral said operations tempo is one of the greatest current challenges faced in the Department of Defense, but he was also candid with the mixed audience, stating it shows no signs of slowing.

"It is reflective of the change we are about," Admiral Mullen said.

"I always try to take a few minutes to talk about change, because we are about change. In many ways, change is us," he said. "If you look at us as a military in 2001 when these wars broke out and where we are right now, it's almost night and day."

Change in the admiral's address boiled down to re-evaluating many areas, including training, education, recruiting and developing a healthy career path. He emphasized change in the concept of leadership as well, stating leadership as a defining characteristic of every service member and naming great leaders as the strength of the military service branches.

"As I look back over the course of my career, we've changed dramatically," said Admiral Mullen. "I am greatly dependant on your ideas - youthful ideas, looking at innovation and adaptation and flexibility and creating a structure which will actually support that, as opposed to stifling it - and incorporating those ideas and having leaders at the mid-grade level, O-4 and above, looking to young people and saying 'What's the best way to solve these problems?'"

At the close of the address, the admiral's actions reflected his message, and opened the floor to a town hall-style question and answer session to solicit the input of Charleston's Airmen.

"Part of the reason I come out here is to learn a little bit more about what you're doing and what's on your mind," he said. "It's a way I learn about what the issues are."

Meanwhile during the all hands call, his wife, Deborah, met privately with base spouses to give ear to their questions and concerns on military family life.

Airmen's questions at the call ranged from educational benefits, caring for wounded warriors, manning cuts and personnel utilization, foreign relations in the Middle East and the benefits seen from the deployment of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles.

"I find it very thoughtful the strategic questions they are asking," said Admiral Mullen. "I find these in audiences in every service everywhere I go, throughout the past five or six years. There are very few questions about me. They are strategic questions about us and what we are doing. They are very proud of being in the military and making a difference."

In visits around the Department of Defense the chairman commonly hosts all hands calls and town hall-style meetings with service members. During a similar town hall-style meeting June 2, the chairman joined Soldiers in Fort Bragg, N.C.

According to news reports, curiosity at the event was high and centered on subjects which have recently received attention from the top seats of the U.S. military. The chairman has posted articles on his Facebook page about the event.

To see more on Admiral Mullen, visit him on Facebook at or his Web site at

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