HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gen. Martin Dempsey said America's fighting forces are stronger than ever.
"We shape behavior simply by our presence," he said.
But the Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff warned that the nation must remain on guard for threats from terrorist groups, rogue nations, and those who use computers to wage war.
"Cyber is the fastest growing, the least understood, and potentially the most perilous factor that connects us all," he said.
Dempsey was in Hawaii for RIMPAC. He said the military exercise gives the 22 participating nations a backdrop to build military to military relationships.
"RIMPAC, with its full spectrum of operations is a perfect backdrop for us to consider the greater implications of the global security environment," he said.
Dempsey said America's shift toward a more streamlined armed force must include better equipment, better training, and an emphasis on agility.
"A smaller force needs to move more quickly and be able to aggregate and disaggregate in order to shape and deter," he said.
As for Iraq and the Middle East, Dempsey said the tide of nationalism there is receding and America's involvement needs to take that into account.
"In this environment, the traditional use of military power rarely leads to an expected result," he said. "Finding effective ways to deal with this paradox is one of the many challenges before us."
During his RIMPAC visit Dempsey met with his counterparts from Japan and South Korea to talk about North Korea. He did not divulge what they discussed.
"This was the first time in history that the chiefs of defense from our three countries have met together in person in that context," he said.
Dempsey called U.S. military power "America's insurance policy." He said it's important to know when and how to use it.