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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff visits A&M for first time


Photo by Cody Franklin 

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at the 60th MSC Student Conference on National Affairs Thursday in Rudder.


The highest-ranking member of the U.S. Armed Forces stepped on campus this week for the first time.
Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, conducted a review of the Corps of Cadets Wednesday and spoke Thursday morning at the 60th MSC Student Conference on National Affairs, an annual event that hosts student delegates from around the nation to discuss national issues.
Dempsey became chairman in 2011 and is now the principal military advisor to President Barack Obama. In that role he continues to directly influence American military and counterterrorism policy. His speech surveyed important topics of security concerning Russian aggression and the rise of China. To these issues Dempsey suggested that the United States be a leader among its partners — balancing military preparation and diplomacy.
Bush School dean Ryan Crocker, who worked with Dempsey during the invasion of Iraq, introduced the chairman to a crowd of mostly military officers, SCONA delegates and cadets Thursday morning.
“General Dempsey is still remembered in the Army for how he handled his troops, how he handled their families and how he then led the most motivated division one can imagine in the successful campaign in Baghdad,” Crocker said.
Dempsey discussed the threat of the Islamic State group and ongoing American airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
“When you are dealing with a network you have to keep pressure across its entire length — it doesn’t do any good to just pinch it here,” Dempsey said. “It takes a really broad effort with partners to deal with networks.”
The four-star general identified the growing importance of cybersecurity in an increasingly connected world. He said there needs to be a balance between national security and privacy, but emphasized that too much privacy often leaves the nation vulnerable to attack and that new powers are needed to protect citizens.
“It’s about give and take,” Dempsey said. “All we are going to have to ask of the American people in terms of legislation is how much will you allow us to take. If the American people decide no, we are not going to allow the Senate or government to have any to take, you are going to stay vulnerable and someday you are actually going to have a huge security issue.”
Dempsey went beyond national security issues and discussed the importance of human capital to the nation. He stressed the need for expertise, humility and moral courage in leadership positions.
“The challenges I see before us are going to require exceptional effort and expertise,” Dempsey said. “You need to commit yourself right from the start to be the best fill-in-the-blank you can be.”
Dempsey’s discussion of leadership goes well with this year’s SCONA theme of “Surviving Ourselves: Ignite the Human Potential.” It was his leadership concepts, rather than his discussion on international affairs, that stuck with some members of the crowd.
Ryan Clay, international studies senior and member of the Army Reserves and Corps of Cadets, expressed as much following Dempsey’s speech.
“My favorite part was when he mentioned that moral courage is tougher than physical courage,” Clay said. “Moral courage is difficult and something you have to face everyday.”
The SCONA conference will continue through the weekend and will host several other speakers, including former CIA and NSA director Gen. Michael Hayden at 2:30 pm Friday in the MSC Gates Ballroom. The speaking events are free and open to students.

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