NEW YORK — For a U.S. military leader trying to reach a different audience, it doesn’t get much more different than “The Daily Show” with Jon Stewart.
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was Stewart’s guest for the third time on the popular Comedy Central show Monday.
Mullen joked with the satirist about his plans for retirement and his decision to join the Navy in 1964. And on a more serious note, he stressed the need for military leaders to hear a range of opinions before making decisions.
Stewart has been spending a lot of time with the chairman. He traveled to Afghanistan with Mullen this summer to thank troops in remote combat outposts and forward operating bases for their service. Stewart called it his “summer vacation.”
Mullen, whose father was a Hollywood publicist, joked about escaping Los Angeles in 1964 when he entered the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
Stewart asked about the chairman’s plans after his retirement at the end of the month. “A long winter’s nap,” Mullen responded.
The discussion turned to weightier matters, and the chairman praised the men and women who are serving today. They have served multiple deployments, he noted, and have done everything the country has asked them to do.
“I’ve been doing this a long time — since 1968 — and unquestionably, they are superb,” he said.
Mullen said he and his wife, Deborah, who accompanied the chairman to the taping, try to represent the needs of service members and their families.
“We try to stay in touch with them, so we understand what they are doing and what we are asking them to do, including the ultimate sacrifice,” the chairman told Stewart. “I tell them ... there isn’t a decision I make or recommendation I make that doesn’t take their needs ... into account. The strength of our military is those men and women and their families.”
During last month’s trip, Stewart said, he was surprised that Mullen had surrounded himself with people whose jobs were to challenge him and his thinking.
“What I’ve found over the years as I’ve gotten into jobs with more responsibility is the diversity of opinions and views is absolutely critical,” the chairman said. “It allows me, in the end, to make the best decision.”