The national defense strategy
announced by President Obama earlier this month will position the United States
to respond effectively to military challenges while reshaping the Pentagon
budget to better reflect fiscal constraints, the nation's highest ranking military
officer told a packed audience at Duke University Thursday evening.
"We the military are not
being victimized by this budget issue," said Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the
chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. The new strategy has provided an
opportunity to rethink how the nation can best advance its interests, he said. "This
is something the joint chiefs have embraced as what's best for America. We'll
figure it out."
Dempsey, who received a master's degree in English
from Duke in 1984, delivered the 2011 Ambassador S. Davis Phillips Family
International Lecture in Page Auditorium. The speech capped a day-long campus
visit during which he toured research laboratories and interacted with faculty
and students. He also met in the Bryan
Center with approximately 400 ROTC students from Duke and other local
Gen. Dempsey explains how his Duke degree in English has made him a better military leader.
"We still aspire to be
and need to be a global power," Dempsey told his audience in Page
Auditorium and watching on C-SPAN. The new strategy provides a balance between
"principle and pragmatism," building on traditional American values
and strengths while responding to events such as the uprisings in the Middle
East and North Africa and regime change in North Korea. "We've made some
real choices," he said.
A four-star general, Dempsey
has served for nearly four decades in the U.S. Army, including commands in Iraq
and Afghanistan. He was introduced by Duke President Richard Brodhead and
political science professor Peter Feaver, who served on the National Security
Council and heads the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy. Earlier in the
day, Feaver discussed Dempsey's visit and American military policy in a live
discussion on "Office
Hours," Duke's weekly online talk show.
Dempsey referred frequently
in his remarks to Feaver's research on military strategy and to his own experience
as a Duke student. He described his time at the university as "incredibly
broadening," noting how he was "confronted with viewpoints I'd never
had to confront in the past."