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Pace to Congress: Encourage Military Service, Interagency Contributions

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 17, 2006 – The top U.S. general urged Congress today to help convey the nobility of military service to America's youth and to encourage a full, interagency response to the global war on terror.

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Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate defense subcommittee today that the "armed forces clearly are ready and fully resources to conduct all the missions that this nation expects of us." Photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Chad McNeeley, USN

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The U.S. military is not just an all-volunteer force, but also an all-recruited force, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, noted in testimony before the Senate Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.

"They have not let us down; they will not let us down," Pace said. "But we need the nation's assistance and all of the leaders and mentors in the nation to impress upon our young folks how honorable it is to serve this nation not only in uniform, but in any way that fits their own role in life."

"If we do that collectively," Pace said, "then those of us who receive our most precious products -- our young men and women, our sons and daughters -- and who are taking care of them, will be able to sustain the force that we have and continue to fight this nation's battles."

Pace praised the "fabulous job" the country's 2.4 million active- and reserve-component servicemembers are doing.

"They have never let us down," he said, thanking Congress for its support. "Your armed forces clearly are ready and fully resources to conduct all the missions that this nation expects of us."

The chairman noted congressional support that goes beyond resources, including visits to the field to thank warfighters and to military hospitals to meet with wounded troops. "It makes a difference," he said.

He also expressed appreciation to military families who he said "serve this country equally well as anyone who has ever worn the uniform."

"They sit silently at home and pray for their loved one, wait for news of their return and then silently stand back and pretend that they had nothing to do with our success," Pace said. "Whereas, in fact, it's the love and support of our families that makes all the difference in the world to all of us who wear the uniform."

That support - by servicemembers, their families, Congress and the American people - is critical, because winning the war on terror won't happen overnight and demands a long-term commitment, Pace said.

The enemy knows it can't win on a traditional battlefield, so it's trying to wait out the United States, he said. "Their battlefield is different from ours," Pace said of the terrorists. "They are focused on our will (and) our cohesion as a nation, and it will require our nation's long-term patience and endurance to defeat this enemy."

Victory against this enemy will require more than just military might, he said. "We are going to need a very robust application of all the elements of national power," he said. This includes an interagency collaboration and process that is effective, efficient and quick to decide."

Pace noted the success of the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act in promoting an interoperable and ultimately, interdependent military, and said something similar is needed to advance the interagency process.

"We need to find ways in the interagency process to encourage and reward cross-agency work experience, education and training," he told the subcommittee. What else is needed, he added, is "to find a way to encourage and reward those in other agencies who deploy with our troops overseas and do our nation's important business that they are the experts in doing."

Pace said he's optimistic that the Quadrennial Defense Review, the fiscal 2007 defense budget request and the National Military Strategy will ensure the military is able to continue fulfilling its responsibilities into the future.

These efforts are focused "on winning the war on terrorism, on accelerating a transformation, on enhancing our joint warfighting and in improving the quality of life for our servicemembers," he said.

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Gen. Peter Pace, USMC

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