Pace Calls Iraq Investigations Chance to Recheck Moral Compass
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jun. 4, 2006 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told U.S. Marines stationed here today the ongoing investigations of events in Haditha, Iraq, present an opportunity for all servicemembers "to revisit ourselves and see where we are on our moral compass."
Gen. Peter Pace, the first Marine to become the highest-ranking U.S. military officer, shared his thoughts with members of Marine Corps Detachment Singapore after stopping between sessions at a security conference here to thank them for their service.
Asked his thoughts about news coverage of the alleged Haditha incident, Pace told the group he supports the new ethics training requirement for deployed troops and believes it supports "what 99 percent of Marines are doing right."
The training emphasizes "core values - who we are and what we do," and encourages military members to reevaluate themselves, the chairman said.
Pace acknowledged that as the investigations unfold, there's likely to be "a bumpy road" ahead.
The general, here for the Asia Security Conference known as the Shangri-La Dialogue, thanked the Marine security guards assigned to the U.S. Embassy "for who you are and what you represent."
The Marines' presence and capability brings "great comfort" to the embassy staff and a positive example of the U.S. military's professionalism, the chairman said. "Thank you for all that you do," he said.
Asked about his World War II-era eagle-globe-and-anchor insignia, Pace told the group he wears them to remember the Marines who served before him and paved the way for him to become the first Marine to achieve his position.
"I recognize I'm standing on the shoulders of some real giants of the corps," he said. "I did not get here on my own. I represent 230-plus years of Marine Corps history."
The general posed for photos with the group, joking with them that "smiling is OK," then presented each Marine with his five-sided signature coin. Pace, in turn, accepted the Marine security detachment coin from Sgt. Hector Ramos.
Sgt. James Gorczynski said it felt good to hear Pace's views of the Iraq investigation firsthand and his belief in the benefit of the new ethics training requirement. "It concentrates on our core values, and that's a constant in our training, from Day One," Gorczynski said.
Staff Sgt. Zachary Peters called the general's comments "very motivational" and said meeting Pace personally confirmed all he'd heard. "It's one thing to hear about him, but it doesn't really take hold until you see the man in person," he said.