Mike Mullen

  • Aired:  09/12/11
  •  | Views: 45,508

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen discusses his rise through the ranks of the Navy and the importance of remaining apolitical as a military leader. (7:40)

>> Jon: WITH US TONIGHT HE'S

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE JOINT

CHIEFS OF STAFF PLEASE WELCOME

BACK TO THE PROGRAM ADMIRAL

MIKE MULLEN.

SIR.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

NICE TO SEE YOU, SIR.

>> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: HOW ARE YOU?

>> GOOD.

>> Jon: YOUR TERM IS IS DONE

AT THE END OF THIS MONTH.

>> RIGHT.

END OF SEPTEMBER.

>> Jon: END OF SEPTEMBER.

DO YOU HAVE PLANS FOR

RELAXATION?

WHAT DOES SOMEONE WHO HAS

WORKED AS HARD AS YOU HAVE FOR

AS LONG AS YOU HAVE UNDER THIS

KIND OF PRESSURE, WHAT DO YOU

DO FOR YOURSELF TO... DO YOU

GO TO A SANDALS RESORT?

WHAT DOES AN ADMIRAL DO?

>> MY PLAN IS TO TAKE A LONG

WINTER'S NAP.

>> Jon: THAT WOULD BE THE TIME

TO DO IT.

>> ACTUALLY WE'RE GOING TO TRY

TO COME DOWN AND REST.

WE'VE BEEN GOING AT A PRETTY

QUICK PACE HERE FOR UPWARDS OF

SIX STRAIGHT YEARS.

IT'S TIME TO TAKE A BREAK.

WE'RE GOING TO DO THAT.

>> Jon: WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW

ABOUT YOU AND WE GOT TO KNOW

EACH OTHER A LITTLE BIT DURING

A RECENT SPRING BREAK TRIP

TOGETHER.

YOU COME FROM SHOW BUSINESS

FOLK.

YOUR FATHER WAS IN THE

ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY.

>> RIGHT.

HE WAS A PUBLICIST OUT IN

HOLLYWOOD.

THAT'S THE BUSINESS I GREW UP

IN.

ALTHOUGH AS I POINT OUT, I

LEFT WHEN I WAS 17 WHICH WAS

1964.

IT'S BEEN A LONG TIME AGO.

>> Jon: YOU WERE A 17-YEAR-OLD

KID LIVING IN LOS ANGELES

MEETING ALL THESE FAMOUS

PEOPLE AND YOU REBEL AGAINST

YOUR PARENTS....

>> (LAUGHING).

>> Jon:... AND SAY, "I'VE HAD

IT.

I'M JOINING THE NAVY."

>> ACTUALLY THE REALLY NICE

THING ABOUT MY PARENTS IS THAT

THEY WERE NOT JUDGMENTAL.

THEY STRONGLY SUPPORTED IT.

>> Jon: THEY WERE NOT

DISAPPOINTED IN THEIR SON NOT,

LET'S SAY, MOVING INTO THE

HOLLYWOOD HILLS AND BECOMING A

WASTE CASE WITH JIM MORRISON?

>> NO, NO, NOT AT ALL.

ONE OF THE STRENGTHS IN THE

FAMILY WAS MY DAD, WHO WAS A

VERY SUCCESSFUL PUBLICIST,

NEVER REALLY BROUGHT IT HOME.

WE HAD FUN WITH IT.

GOT TO MEET THE PEOPLE.

AS A KID SOME OF THOSE TV

SHOWS, IT WAS PRETTY NEAT.

BUT I THINK SOMEONE WOULD LOOK

BACK ON IT AND SAY I GOT ABOUT

AS FAR AWAY FROM IT AS I

POSSIBLY COULD.

>> Jon: YES.

I WOULD IMAGINE THAT'S THE

CASE.

YET THINGS WORKED OUT VERY

NICELY.

NOW, WHEN YOU STARTED TO RISE

UP THROUGH THIS, WHEN YOU

ENTERED INTO THAT POLITICAL

SPHERE, YOU KNOW, BASICALLY

YOU'RE WORKING WITH JUST THE

NAVY AND YOUR COMMANDING

SHIPS.

WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST SURPRISE

WHEN YOU JOINED THE MORE...

GOT INVOLVED WITH MORE OF THE

POLITICAL LEADERSHIP?

WAS THAT A STRUGGLE TO MAKE

THAT TRANSITION?

>> I HAD BEEN IN AND OUT OF

WASHINGTON IN JOBS IN THE NAVY

SINCE THE MID '90s.

I HAD ALWAYS SPENT A LOT OF

TIME ON CAPITOL HILL BECAUSE

THOSE INDIVIDUALS ARE MY

BANKERS.

SO IF WE WANT TO GET EQUIPMENT

FOR THE TROOPS OR SHIPS,

AIRPLANES, ET CETERA, I PAY A

LOT OF ATTENTION TO THEM.

BUT WHAT I DIDN'T REALLY

UNDERSTAND COME ING INTO THIS

JOB WAS THAT THE POLITICAL...

THAT THE POLITICAL LEVEL I WAS

AT, EVERY TIME YOU WALK INTO

THE WHITE HOUSE, THAT

DOMINATES ALL THE ISSUES.

FOR A MILITARY GUY, THAT'S NOT

A FAMILIAR ENVIRONMENT.

TO ADJUST TO THAT, I WORK HARD

TO GIVE MY BEST MILITARY

ADVICE AND TO STAY, WHICH IS

CRITICAL FOR OUR MILITARY AND

IN OUR COUNTRY, TO STAY

APOLITICAL GIVING THAT ADVICE.

WHEN THE PRESIDENT MAKES

DECISIONS, WE CARRY IT OUT.

THAT WAS A BIT OF A SHOCK

CERTAINLY IN THE FIRST YEAR

THAT I WAS IN THIS JOB.

>> Jim: I....

>> Jon: I WAS SURPRISED IN

MEETING THE PEOPLE THAT I'VE

MET IN THE MILITARY HOW

APOLITICAL THEY TRULY ARE.

HOW IT REALLY IS SO MUCH MORE

MISSION BASED AND FRATERNAL.

IT'S ABOUT THEIR BROTHERS AND

SISTERS AND EXECUTING THE TASK

THAT THEY'VE BEEN GIVEN.

>> AS YOU SAW ON THE TRIP THAT

WE WERE ON TOGETHER, THEY CARE

SO MUCH ABOUT WHO THEY'RE WITH,

WHO THEY'RE FIGHTING WITH.

IN MANY WAYS THAT'S WHY

THEY'RE THERE.

THEY UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY'RE

DOING FOR THEIR COUNTRY.

THEY UNDERSTAND THEIR MISSION.

THIS IS THE BEST MILITARY I'VE

EVER SEEN.

I MEAN I'VE BEEN DOING THIS

196.

OVER 4...1968.

OVER 43 YEARS.

UNQUESTIONABLY THEY ARE

SUPERB.

>> Jim: I WAS SURPRISED AND I

KNOW YOU HAVE A LOT OF RESPECT

FOR THE FIGHTING MEN AND

WOMEN.

I WAS SURPRISED WHEN WE LANDED

IN KANDAHAR THAT YOU FORCED

THEM TO CARRY YOU AROUND ON A

LITTER.

(LAUGHING)

I THOUGHT THAT WAS INTERESTING

AND I DON'T KNOW WHERE THEY

GOT ROSE PET ALS.

(LAUGHING)

IT'S A DRY AND ARID PLACE.

BUT I'M GLAD YOU WERE

COMFORTABLE.

>> ACTUALLY THAT USUALLY ONLY

HAPPENS ONCE A TRIP.

>> Jon: (LAUGHING)

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

I HAVE TO TELL YOU SOMETHING.

WHAT SO IMPRESSED ME, YOU KNOW,

WE GOT TO INTERACT A LOT WITH

THE GUYS.

IT WAS REALLY WONDERFUL.

BUT THE INTERACTION THAT THEY

HAD WITH YOU, THERE WAS SO

MUCH MORE DEPTH TO IT.

THERE WAS, YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU

GATHERED THEM AROUND THAT

FIRST NIGHT AND YOU WERE SORT

OF GOING AROUND AND YOU WERE

SAYING WHO IS ON THE FIRST

TOUR AND SECOND TOUR AND YOU

STARTED TO SEE HANDS GO UP.

SOME GUYS, 5th TOUR, 6th TOUR.

YOU KNOW HOW MUCH DIFFICULTY

IT WAS ON THEIR FAMILIES.

THE MOMENTS THAT YOU SPENT

WITH THEM, THEY REALLY SEEMED

TO APPRECIATE IN A VERY DEEP

WAY.

>> ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I--

AND I'M HERE TONIGHT WITH

DEBRA WHO IS IN THE AUDIENCE

TONIGHT AND MY WIFE OF OVER 40

YEARS, 41 YEARS, WE'VE TRIED

TO REPRESENT THEIR NEEDS.

WE'VE TRIED TO BE IN TOUCH

ENOUGH WITH THEM SO WE

UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY'RE DOING,

WHAT WE'RE ASKING THEM TO DO

INCLUDING PAYING THE ULTIMATE

SACRIFICE.

AND I TELL THEM THIS.

THIS REALLY IS TRUE.

THERE ISN'T A DECISION THAT I

MAKE OR A RECOMMENDATION THAT

I MAKE THAT DOESN'T TAKE THEIR

NEEDS AS BEST I CAN UNDERSTAND

IT INTO ACCOUNT.

AND SO THE STRENGTH OF OUR

MILITARY ARE THOSE YOUNG MEN

AND WOMEN AND THEIR FAMILIES.

WE'VE REALLY TRIED TO ENGAGE

THEM.

>> Jon: IT SURPRISED ME THOUGH

THE FLEXIBILITY.

I HAD A STEREOTYPICAL VIEW OF

THE MILITARY AS BEING A MUCH

MORE RIGID ORGANIZATION.

YOU'RE SURROUNDED BY A GROUP

OF PEOPLE WHOSE JOB IT IS TO

CHALLENGE YOU AND TO CHALLENGE

YOUR THINKING.

THAT BRINGS AN ETHOS INTO WHAT

YOU DO, INTO YOUR

DECISION-MAKING PROCESS THAT

SEEMS MORE FLEXIBLE THAN WHAT

WE HAVE.

>> WHAT I'VE FOUND OVER THE

YEARS AS I'VE GOTTEN MORE

SENIOR AND INTO THESE JOBS OF

GREATER RESPONSIBILITY IS THE

DIVERSITY OF OPINION AND VIEWS

IS ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL.

IT ALLOWS ME IN THE END TO

MAKE THE BEST DECISION.

IT DOESN'T MAKE MY STAFF

COMFORTABLE.

EVERY DAY, FOR SURE.

ACTUALLY IT DOESN'T MAKE OTHER

SENIOR OFFICERS VERY

COMFORTABLE BECAUSE EVERYBODY

DOESN'T DO IT BUT I TRY TO DO

THAT TO ARRIVE AT THE BEST

DECISION AND RECOMMENDATIONS

IN TERMS OF THE ADVICE THAT I

GIVE THE PRESIDENT.

AND THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE.

>> Jon: I WAS TRULY HONORED TO

BE ABLE TO BE A PART OF THAT

TRIP WITH YOU TO AFGHANISTAN.

TRULY HONORED TO BE ABLE TO

THANK THE MEN AND WOMEN IN

PERSON.

I JUST WISH YOU ALL THE BEST

IN YOUR TIME AND HOPE WE GET

TO SPEND SOME TIME TOGETHER

AND THAT I GET TO TRY ON THAT

JACKET AT SOME POINT.

>> THIS IS NOT A SERGEANT'S

JACKET.

( CHEERS AND APPLAUSE )

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