We need leaders who will do this, who have studied and understand the mistakes that have been made in the past by organizations in similar crisis, who can make the right decisions at the right time and who will then push forward with an airminded, creative answer. By the way, you can look up the term "airmindedness," for some of you older folks. It was invoked starting about 1926 and hit its peak in
Anyway, we need leaders who have unselfish and unconditional support from their bedrock institutions, in this case, the magnificent active, Reserve, Guard and retired military, civilian men and women who make up the
And that leads to the second weapon we must have: a solid intellectual framework to get us off the runway and onto a good trajectory going forward. My sense is this framework finds its most solid foundation when we strike the proper balance among the three elements of strategy, namely our national security ends or interests and the threats thereto, the military ways we go about defending those interests and the financial means we shape into the military tools of capability, capacity and readiness to defend those interests. We are going to have to balance all three of these elements. And those who would suggest that we should just articulate our strategic ends and then simply demand the means to make it happen have never really seriously done strategy out there in the real world, and they risk leaving us with a bankrupt strategy if we do so.
The harsh reality today is that we're in a security environment in which the ends and the ways and the means are all shifting under our feet at the same time. And if we don't fully understand this reality or combination of realities or we deny it, hoping it will disappear, or if we allow our ends, ways and means to fall out of balance, then our strategy will be bankrupt we and will fail our great nation.
So in the time I have this morning, I'd like to elaborate a little bit on ends, ways and means, beginning with the importance of ends. That is the list of interests that we would use the military instrument of national power to protect, and roughly in what priority we would do so. That list must by nature be abstract and derived from guidance we receive from the commander in chief, and it usually begins with survival of the nation and finishes with the protection of universal values. And there's plenty in between, depending on who is doing the listing, such as preventing catastrophic attacks on our nation, maintaining secure, confident and reliable allies and partners, and protecting American citizens abroad.
You can argue the details, but these interests are enduring. What changes is the degree to which we can comfortably cover everything on the list and, if not, making sure that we can and do cover the most important things. I don't know how we can make decisions, especially in the department's current financial crisis, without referring to this touchstone. It is the most fundamental discriminator we have for guiding our decisions. And I turn to them in some way every day.
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