National Press Club

Insider Attacks in Afghanistan Not Preventable, But Won’t Thwart Mission’s Objective

October 10, 2012 | By Terry Hill |

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey speaks at a National Press Club Luncheon, October 10, 2012.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey speaks at a National Press Club Luncheon, October 10, 2012.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

The “insider” attacks against U.S. and Coalition troops in Afghanistan that have killed or wounded 130 military personnel this year alone are not preventable, but will not jeopardize the mission’s overall objective, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey said during a National Press Club luncheon Wednesday.

Declaring the trend a very serious threat, he said, “It’s clear that the Taliban understands that if they can separate the Afghan Security Forces from those of us who advise and assist them, they will retard the development of the Afghan security forces and cause our will to be under pressure.”

The nation’s defense system’s greatest vulnerability, he said, is the potential of cybersecurity attacks. Rating it a “10” on a scale of one to 10, Dempsey said the challenge also presents a great opportunity for making needed changes to America’s military capabilities.

To answer the question is the Department of Defense playing too large a role in the current administration’s foreign policy, Dempsey said the nation’s military is often seen having a larger presence around the globe due to the attention paid to military action in some areas, but he said it maintains a “thoughtful balance” and is “well partnered” with other federal agencies. But there will be relationship issues that must change when DOD downsizes during anticipated budget reductions, he noted. “We have to be careful that that doesn’t create a vacuum.”

Agreeing that political rhetoric sometimes causes misunderstandings between him and his counterparts around the world, Dempsey said he often personally talks with military leaders of other nations about key issues and assures them that he is not going to communicate with them through the media.

Addressing the issue of the rising rate of suicide among military personnel, the chairman said, like insider attacks, suicide is not preventable but the military is trying to do as much as it can to reduce it. He said there is something unknown in society today that is changing the resilience of young people, making them more vulnerable to such acts.