• Adm. Mike Mullen said keeping an eye on the world’s hot spots and taking care of veterans at home are two of the most crucial issues for Americans. – Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

Mullen: Challenges at home, abroad

Keeping an eye on global events and potential threats keeps Adm. Mike Mullen (USN, ret.), with plenty on his plate lately.

Mullen, the 17th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke last Tuesday at the Admiral Nimitz Foundation’s Distinguished Speaker Series at St. Mary’s Holy Family Center.

Mullen talked at length about threats, both internal and external, at the event, from the “Brexit” to the seeming stalemate in Washington, D.C.

“One of the things I worry about is the leaders in the world who are moving the needle,” he said. “One is Putin in Russia, and that’s not the guy I want moving the needle. Second is Xi Jinping in China, another guy who shouldn’t be moving it. The third guy is the Pope, who actually has focused the world on the right people, those who don’t think they have a future.”

Focusing on people’s future deals largely with national security, Mullen said.

He mentioned Russia, Syria, China and the Middle East as places that pose potential threats.

“The Middle East is in turmoil and it will be for another 40 or 50 years,” he said. “I’m not saying it’s ours to solve, but it is ours to participate in, in a way that allows these countries eventually to emerge in a more constructive way than any of them have in recent years.”

“I believe we’ll see more incidents on U.S. soil until these young people in the Middle East have hope. Right now, they have no hope. They have governments that have suppressed them, repressed them, killed them, jailed them and created no future for them,” he said.

“When a 15-year-old boy or girl gets to that (age) crossroad, do they make a decision to pursue an education and be a constructive citizen, or without hope, do they put on a suicide vest? That’s where this is going to be for a long time. We have to be ready and prepare for that.”


Mullen and Gen. Michael Hagee, CEO of the Admiral Nimitz Foundation, praised three World War II veterans and four Wounded Warriors who were in attendance.

“We come from a culture on the active duty side that takes care of you,” Mullen said, saying there are two standards for active- and non-active military. “I could take a bullet for you Friday and on Monday, if you’re leaving, I salute you with your duffle bag and say, ‘Have a nice life.’”

“The Veterans Administration can’t take care of it all — it’s too big,” he said. “The challenges (of taking care of veterans) are huge and mounting, yet it’s dispersed and disaggregated across the whole country.”

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