Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford accepted the Eisenhower Award from the Business Executives for National Security on behalf of the more than two million members of the Defense Department here yesterday.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff thanked the organization for its recognition of DoD’s people, stressing that thanks to them, the United States military “can protect the homeland and our way of life, we can meet our alliance commitments and I am confident that we have a competitive advantage over any single adversary in the world right now.”
With more than 300,000 American service members deployed in 177 countries, “the sun never sets on your soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” Dunford said.
Still, he said, there are readiness challenges and he and his fellow members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have testified candidly to Congress on these challenges. The United States has been engaged in constant conflicts since the attacks of 9/11. The high operational tempo has stressed the force, as has budget instability.
“We do have legitimate challenges that have to be addressed, and what’s most important is that the competitive advantage that I am confident about … is one that we can enjoy four, five, six, seven and 10 years from now,” he said.
The chairman emphasized two attributes that American service members bring to the fight: the ability to adapt and the spirit of innovation.
He also highlighted the contributions of service members around the world who allow the United States to keep pace and move ahead of adversaries who continually try to exploit weaknesses in the U.S. military.
“We have to change the way we approach challenges, the way we make decisions and the way we solve problems,” the chairman said. “That’s exactly what our men and women are doing. Every day, creative leaders are adapting to meet new challenges and innovating to ensure that we maintain our competitive advantage.”
Dunford noted how two doctors with the Army’s 75th Ranger Regiment found a new way to ensure safe blood for those wounded at the point of injury.
In the Navy, a young sailor led a team that developed an unmanned underwater vehicle called the Ghost Swimmer, he said. The vehicle mimics the movements of a shark and “it makes it nearly impossible for an adversary to detect it,” the chairman noted.
A Marine Corps corporal adapted 3-D printing processes to keep his unit moving and ready, Dunford said.
“And in his spare time,” he continued, “he experimented with the manufacturer’s specifications for his handheld radio, and he printed a new antenna that was lighter, more flexible and had greater range than the one that he was issued.”
An Air Force officer worked out a way to respond to changes in tactics used by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria that has allowed the coalition and their Iraqi and Syrian allies to strike the terror group. “They now have a jump on ISIS, and ISIS has yet to catch up,” Dunford said.
“These examples, and the courage and commitment and the character … are why I am both humbled and proud to accept the Eisenhower Award on behalf of your soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines,” he said.
“If you take the innovative spirit of the young men and women that I described, their courage, character and commitment and you combine it with the power of American industry and the partnership represented by BENS, I can guarantee that the individual who serves as chairman 10 years from now will be able to say three simple things: We can protect the homeland and our way of life, we can meet our alliance commitments and we have a competitive advantage over any potential adversary,” the chairman said.
(Follow Jim Garamone on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews)