View Full Version : Chairman of the JCS

Matt Brzycki
02-08-09, 10:51 AM
I had what's probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear Admiral Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff speak at Princeton University on February 5. I work on the campus and the presentation was a few minutes hump from my building.

His presentation was open to the public and first come, first serve. I got there about 30 minutes early (with my supervisor) and there were maybe 30 or 40 people already in line. Surprisingly, there was no screening done. It was well publicized and any kook could've walked in.

Admiral Mullen was introduced by one of the Princeton students, a senior who's the battalion commander for the ROTC on campus (and one of my weekend student employees; a real kick-ass kid who should go very far in the military).

The admiral spoke for about 45 minutes on several topics. I can't recall all the topics but one of the things he mentioned was how struck he was by the fact that it took only 10 terrorists in the Mumbai attacks to bring two nuclear-armed countries to the brink of war.

He also opened up the floor for questions from the audience which was another surprise. Prior to the first question, the audience was told "the ground rules": One mike would be placed in each aisle; line up single file behind the mike; you get to ask one and only one question; and it must be a question.

The first guy got up and introduced himself, saying that he had been in the Navy as well "but on the other side." At first, I wondered WTF, does that mean that he was in the Soviet Navy or something but then figured he must've meant that he was an enlisted, not an officer. He also added that he was a boat coxswain. At any rate, he proceeded to rant and rave about the reason we're in Iraq was because of oil and all you hadda do was drive up and down the Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway to see that and yadda yadda yadda. Then the guy sat down and a few people yelled, "What's your question?"

Keep in mind, we were just told that we hadda ask "a question," meaning NO POLITICAL STATEMENTS. Fortunately, all others had questions, not statements.

Side note: We have a few active duty Army personnel on campus (overseeing the ROTC) and an active duty Navy officer (who's a SEAL attending grad school). They were sitting in the audience in uniform and I seriously think they were getting ready to tackle the guy if he made a move toward the admiral!

Someone asked about if the US would continue its airstrikes in Pakistan to which the admiral stated that he couldn't discuss operational policies. Another person asked about starting the draft again, which was meet by a few jeers from the audience. To this, the admiral said that he didn't think a draft was a good idea and that the volunteer military was just fine as is. In fact, he said it would be messy (my word, not his) in trying to merge draftees into a volunteer military. Someone else asked about gays in the military and the policy of "Don't ask, don't tell." The admiral said that this is the law, not his policy or subject to his opinion and that if the law changes then he'll fall in line with the new law.

All in all, the Q&A was at least 30 minutes. The admiral was a very polished speaker, as you'd expect from a CJCS. A great experience!

Matt Brzycki
Sergeant (1975-79)

02-09-09, 06:47 AM
Outstanding! I got to hear General Pace when he was the CJCS in Fallujah a few years back. It's amazing some of the questions that come out of peoples mouths when they think they have an open forum. Anyways, great story Sgt!