Joint Chiefs chairman visits Kansas

Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is visiting Kansas this week – Fort Leavenworth on Tuesday (after a stop at Fort Sill, Okla.) and Fort Riley today.The Fort Leavenworth visit wasn’t necessarily easy.The Washington Post reports: “Also Tuesday, Mullen visited students at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and met with Army recruiters in Denver. Wednesday, he is to speak with U.S. military teams at Fort Riley, Kan., preparing to train Iraqi and Afghan forces.”Hardship on spouses and children emerged as a major complaint for the young captains, most of them in their 20s or early 30s. One related the frustration his pregnant wife faced obtaining obstetric care for herself and medical treatment for their 8-month-old son’s ear infection. With many Army doctors deployed, he said, she has often been told she can’t get an appointment.”‘I am currently on track to exit the military in one year,’ he said, ‘not because I’m done serving . . . but because my wife has a bad taste in her mouth.’ Mullen again promised to take his name and e-mail address. ‘I’ll get back to you,’ he said.”Commenting later on the captains’ frank comments, Mullen said that he was not surprised, and that they validated his own views. ‘They weren’t shy,’ he said.”AP adds: “Mullen later flew to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas and spoke to about 800 military students at the Command and General Staff College. During questions there he heard many of the same issues, as well as broader questions about military strategy, the Middle East and the ongoing effort to send more soldiers to work in training teams for the Iraq and Afghan armies.”Mullen said later that he was not surprised by the concerns expressed by the officers.”‘Based on my expectations, I think what I heard is what I expected,’ he said. ‘It validates where I think we are and it also validates the need as a priority to figure out a way to relieve that stress.'”The leadership of the Army and the Marine Corps, he added, are addressing the issues and ‘it’s not going to be an overnight fix.'”