U.S. Troops Constitute the ‘Best Military' Ever
(June 8, 2010)
|JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., June 4, 2010 – Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen yesterday
saluted the exemplary actions of airmen and other U.S.
military members serving worldwide during a visit with
troops and families here.|
From training Afghan army and police, protecting coalition
forces and Afghan civilians and engaging enemy fighters, the
mission in Afghanistan couldn't be accomplished without the
exceptional service of airmen, Mullen said here yesterday
during an award ceremony and town hall meeting, where he
presented three airmen with Bronze Star Medals.
|U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses the audience at an award ceremony recognizing three airmen with the Bronze Star for their tours of duty in Afghanistan, Joint Base Charleston, S.C., June 3, 2010. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Chad McNeeley
“We are exceptional as a military because of what you do, you and so many
others,” the admiral said. “The three of you represent thousands and thousands
and thousands of our military who are serving forward now, members of the best
military we've ever had.”|
Maj. William Skinner, Master Sgt. Sean P. Houlihan and Staff Sgt. Christopher M.
Ferrell received the service awards.
Skinner spent seven months leading joint-embedded training teams in support of
Afghan security forces operations. Houlihan is a public affairs airman whose
expertise ensured that local, national and international communities were
accurately informed of progress being made in Afghanistan. Houlihan's work also
included initiatives to gain local support of the Afghan government and
discrediting extremist propaganda.
Ferrell is a bomb disposal technician who in Afghanistan led a team that
dismantled and cleared 6,000 miles of roadways of more than 200 ordnances and
bombs emplaced by insurgents.
“If you listen to the specifics of those awards, ... there's an awful lot in those
three awards that captures both our requirements and our mission,” Mullen said.
“To say the least, we just flat out can't get it done without outstanding airmen
like the ones we just recognized.”
Mullen also emphasized his appreciation for the support of military families.
The past nine years of frequent combat deployments has taken a toll on the
families, but their resilience and understanding has allowed troops to focus on
their missions, he said.
“These are tough times, tough missions, lots of deployments,” the admiral said.
“They're dangerous, people worry, and [military leaders] understand that. What
[families] do and sacrifice is every bit as special as those of us who go
forward and carry out these missions. It's because of [the families] that we're
able to succeed in so many places.”
Mullen noted how the Air Force has adapted to longer deployments. In the late
1990s and early after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, a typical Air Force deployment
was 60 days. Now, airmen are deploying for six- and nine-month rotations.
But even as major operations and the number of U.S. troops in Iraq decrease,
Mullen acknowledged that there are no clear signs that the military's
operational tempo is slowing down anytime soon.
“One of the biggest challenges we've had is our tempo,” he said. “We have pushed
you, pushed the Air Force, pushed our airmen hard, and you have really met the
task time and time again. You've set the example in so many ways.”
Meanwhile airmen, just as troops in the other services, should continue to
evolve. Mullen stressed the importance of gaining better understanding of the
countries troops operate in by honing their language skills and cultural
“In countries all over the world, try to understand the challenges from their
perspective, not from an American perspective [and] not how we would solve the
problem” Mullen said. “We're not going to stay anywhere forever. It really is
important, as it is in Afghanistan, that Afghanistan figure out its way ahead
and we support them.”
Just as the military services have become more expeditionary and versatile over
the past 15 years, Mullen said such growth needs to continue in order to stay
ahead of the global challenges and missions that may surface in the future.
“We need to change in order to meet the needs,” he said. “Of all the things we
do, the mission is at the top of the list. The mission is why we're in the
military. The mission is why we deploy.”
Army SFC Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service
Comment on this article