Lessons From David's JCOC Trip: The Greatest Threats to the U.S.A.

The Joint Civilian Orientation Conference is a Department of Defense program designed to give a few dozen non-military members a deeperunderstanding of the U.S. Armed Forces. In this week's Rule Breaker Investing podcast, David Gardner is ready to reflect on the lessons of his trip. When it comes to the dangers they have to defend us from, it's clear that all branches of the military are on the same page about which are the most pressing. And if you keep up with world news, none of them will shock you.

A transcript follows the video.

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This video was recorded on Aug. 31, 2016.

David Gardner:

A third insight was something that was consistent throughout the week, and that is the description from the top levels in terms of what the greatest threats are to the United States of America. So a quick quiz for you. I've got four countries and a fifth thing. You can ask yourself, in your own mind, what the U.S. military would deem to be the four countries, in ranked order, that represent the greatest threats to our safety and stability.

I'm not going to editorialize on each of these. I'll just give you the list. The first one starts with an "R." It's Russia. Russia is number one. Number two is China. Number three is Iran, and number four is North Korea, a country that is not much bigger than the U.S. state of Mississippi. Those consistently, from one branch of the military (from the U.S. Armed Forces to the next) were all marching in line to the same concept, which shows that communications are effective from the Department of Defense. And generally it's nice to know that there is consistency in communication and we're all marching to the same beat throughout the Armed Forces.

The fifth is not a country. Some people might use the word terrorism. I don't like that term. The U.S. military doesn't use it. They use the term violent extremism. I remember, in particular, one of the generals saying, "We don't actually name who or what that is, because if we put a name on it, today" (let's say al-Qaeda), "that wouldn't be the same name we'd be using three or five years from now. It keeps changing."

So violent extremism. I know I'm speaking to many Americans, today. We do have a lot of international listeners, as well, for Rule Breaker Investing. But for us in America, and maybe your country, too, I think we're rather preoccupied with violent extremism. We worry about that a lot. When something goes wrong, the first question is, "Was that a terrorist thing?"

But the truth is, especially from the military standpoint, those are generally pretty under-resourced operations. They're not impressive, most of them. They don't really have that much in terms of forces, or technology, or really the ability to work together. So it's really these larger countries that don't always purpose freedom or seem to act in ways that you and I would say, "Well, that's a good citizen." Those are the things that the U.S. military spends the most time thinking about. That was a little bit of a surprise to me.

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