By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
June 15, 2007 – U.S. armed services frequently work together in joint operations, and military officers also need to represent their own services in joint environments, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday at the Joint Forces Staff College here. Pace delivered the Henry Clay Hofheimer Lecture to students, faculty and guests of the college. Most of the students are young officers who will move on to joint service assignments around the world.
"This is a joint school, a joint and combined environment and I like that a lot," Marine Gen. Peter Pace said. "But I ask you to not forget what uniform you wear."
The military has successfully embraced jointness, he said, and the campaign into Iraq in March and April 2003 proved the worth of the joint approach. But officers may be too quick to embrace the concept.
Pace said he knows a lot about the Marine Corps, having grown up in the culture from second lieutenant fresh out of the Naval Academy. "What I need around me are officers who will tell me what it is about the Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard that I do not know, and if I did know, I could make a better decision," he said.
An Air Force officer going to a joint meeting has the responsibility to represent his service as part of his input to the meeting. "When you walk in that room, don't be bashful about explaining to the other people why certain things in your service are the way they are," Pace said. "At the end of the day, when the decision is made, of course, we all get on board and row together."
He said keeping an open mind is part of the process. It is important to articulate the service's position, but an officer needs to understand it is only one way of looking at that problem.
"Understand that you know part of the truth, not all of the truth, and listen to the folks around you," Pace said. "Then become part of the team that solves the problem."
The chairman said military personnel readily understand physical courage, but he has really come to understand moral courage.
"I have come in my last six years to appreciate and value the courage that comes with having to stand up and speak your mind when others are thinking differently," he said. "If you are wrong in combat, you might die. If you are wrong intellectually you have to live with it."
With seniority comes membership in more powerful groups, he noted. "As discussions are going in one direction, it becomes more and more difficult to say 'I see it a bit differently.' But I will tell you that the more senior you become the more critical it is that you be the person at the table who does that," he said.
Pace also spoke about the value of saying "no" to senior officials. Pace said the word "no" has an unusual effect on people. He said if there is a roll call around a table and someone says, "No" everything stops.
"Everybody listens," he said. "You will not always carry the day. But you will always be welcome at the next meeting, because people know you will always speak your mind."
The chairman also told the students that it is important to "grow where you are planted." He said some students in the class are going to assignments they would not have chosen for themselves. But, they have to give some credit to the services. The services know what they want in officers and what type of experiences they need for their officers.
"In my case, if I had done everything I had wanted to do in the Marine Corps and everything I presumed I was best-qualified for, I would long be retired," he said. "The service put me places that gave me the experiences that allowed me to compete for higher and higher jobs."
"More important than that," he told the students, "every place that we could possibly send you, there are great young men and women in uniform who need your leadership, who deserve the best you can give them. And as you already know if you take care of the folks in your charge the trip your on is amazingly rewarding and your unit just performs beyond anything you imagined."