Army chief of staff speaks to audience at VMI

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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) “The United States is a global power," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said. "And as such we don’t have the luxury of just opting out.”

Facing a laundry list of threats around the world, Milley spends much of his time ensuring the Army is prepared to meet those threats. But, he explained to the cadets in his audience at VMI's Cameron Hall, he thinks they will face a radically different battlefield from what American forces have fought on in the past, or even now.

“You are going to be witness to what I believe is going to be a fundamental change in the character of warfare," Milley said. "And I would submit to you that guys like General Peay and myself, we will not even recognize the battlefield that you will fight on in 2035 or even 2050.”

He painted a picture of a chaotic and dangerous place, overlaid with a layer of technology that could be as easily used to locate and kill a soldier as help him. But he also said that the solution was ready made in an American culture that raised youth to be independent, adaptable, and even question authority.

“We’re going to need leaders that are willing to take risk to meet the intent. Even disobey an order, which is anathema here at VMI, or West Point, or even in the military," Milley said. "But the willingness to disobey a specified task in order to achieve the intended purpose.”

“I think, with deciding when to disobey orders, comes in morality and your character, and it’s definitely not black and white,” Second Class Cadet Amy Horney said after the speech.

She plans to be a Marine officer, where she will face those changes.

“And it’s a lot of the unknown," Horney said. "It’s a little scary, kind of looking into the future and seeing you know how much technology is impacting the battlefield.”