This news story first appeared on November 16, 2012. For more information click here.
By Katelyn Gough, SMU Daily Campus; November 16, 2012
“What you have here for the next 24 hours is a ringside seat.”
Adm. Patrick Walsh addressed attendees of SMU’s Tower Center’s two-day National Security Conference Wednesday night with a keynote address that zeroed in on one of the “most thorneous problems we could ever imagine.”
Walsh spent the next hour analyzing the country’s defense program as it pertains to both national and international levels on the basis of three categories: “man, the state and war.”
“Nations are watching with keen interest our ability to remain forward, engaged and ready,” Walsh said of the current state of defense.
In his discussion of what many are calling a security “crisis” for the U.S., Walsh presented the audience with a comparative look at the country’s defense system pre- and post-9/11. With the event that “moved our country into unprecedented global conflict,” Walsh said that the 2001 terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda made perfectly clear “the impact of the individual for war and for peace.”
“The investment requirement now is something extraordinarily different,” Walsh said, referring to the budgetary tie-in to the defense program.
The Sept. 11 attacks put the U.S. back into a prominent, deeply woven international involvement that needs infinitely more funding than more “inactive” years prior.
“The biggest challenge by far to our security structure is its sustainability,” Walsh said.
He emphasized the need to “make wise investments” in the country’s military health so as confine and limit the diversity of “barbarous acts” of terrorism growing on nearly every continent.
“The real possibility exists for conflict that is not at the time or place of our choosing,” Walsh said.
Walsh explained that preparedness and accepting the fact that the U.S. doesn’t “have the force of [pre-9/11] because we don’t have that world anymore” was essential in being able to combat any and all security threats beyond the anticipation and watch of the country’s military.
He used past American military tactics, organization and actions as evidence of a knowledge base the country has and can use to its advantage even in a post-9/11 world.
“[We need to] understand how to unlock what we’ve already invested,” Walsh said. “We have an immediate challenge to handle short-term issues.”
One of his key points of the evening was the need for education reform in the context of the “U.S. security narrative.”
“The public school system is now recognized as a national security issue,” Walsh said. “The current education system has consequences for economic competitiveness and innovation.”
Walsh cited the need for future generations “to be engaged in the foreign arena” so that the next wave of those running the country’s defense program can “demonstrate commitment, leadership and resolve of U.S. government.”
“We must continue to recruit and maintain the highest [caliber of people],” Walsh said.
Junior Austin Moorman, who works with the Tower Center and was involved at the banquet, said that the conference was “one of the better turnouts” he’s seen.
“[Walsh] related well the impact resources must have upon tactics,” Moorman said. “The audience seemed very engaged.”
As for its pertinence to the SMU academic community, Moorman shared his belief that “it’s important to have students educated on issues of defense.”
“With today’s politics and how interconnected the world is, people should know the issues concerning our country and others,” Moorman said.
Walsh closed the dinner with what he determined to be the essential, communing point of the country’s immediate future.
“How to pivot forward,” Walsh said. “That is the question we need to answer.”