Transcript: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen

MULLEN: And what I would hope to do in this, George, again, given the strategic intent of the president, is to avoid a polarizing debate that puts a force that's very significantly under stress in the middle. And to get this, get to this, assuming the law is going to change, and, again, a measured, deliberate way. And that, as the senior military leader, is what I consider my principal responsibility.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Measured, deliberate way. So it sounds like if the Congress calls you up to testify in this, you're going to say now is not the time to repeal?

MULLEN: No, I actually -- I'm going to talk to the process that we have in this country, which is we follow the law, and if the law changes, we'll comply. There's absolutely no question about that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: We have a couple of minutes left. I want to ask you about working with President Obama as the commander in chief. You've been doing it for about four months now, a little bit more than four months. What have you learned about the president as commander in chief? And is he performing as you expected?

MULLEN: It's very rare with any kind of major issue that the president doesn't initially ask, OK, where are we going here? What's our end stake? And then developing a strategic view of how to get there and the major pieces with respect to that. That he is developing policies and policy objectives that the military can support, and the policy and the strategy are very clear.

And I'm not a policy and a strategy guy. I'm -- you know, the military basically supports what the president wants, the decisions that he makes. And he has done that, he has done that in Iraq, he has done that in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. And I find that to be -- to be a method that gives the military the kind of focus it needs for where we're going.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Has he surprised you in any way?

MULLEN: No, not really. I mean, I met him before the -- I think a week or so after he was elected. We had very frank conversations about our positions on various issues, in terms of how we saw things. He was very clear about what he wants to do.

He's a very bright, focused individual. He takes a diversity of opinion, and then he is -- he is as every president is, you know, he knows he has to make decisions. He has made them, he has made hard ones, and I think he will continue to do so.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, as you pointed out, the military has been under tremendous stress for the last eight years. Families have been separated again and again. The suicide rate has risen pretty dramatically in the military.

What do you want on this Memorial Day weekend? What do you want Americans to know about what the military is going through? And what do you want them to reflect on?

MULLEN: Well, we do have a force that's pressed very, very hard. That said, they're the best military I've ever been associated with in my 41 years of wearing the uniform. They have performed incredibly. I would like America to remember those who have served and those that we've lost and their families.

I would like to -- there's tremendous resolve in our military. We're fighting two wars, and the goal to win and succeed in these wars is resonant throughout our military and the capability to do that. And that we -- and that we are resolved as a country to support those who have given so much. Those who have fallen, families of the fallen, and those who have been wounded.

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