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Myers: Strategy Right, U.S. Must Stay Course in Iraq

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2005 – The U.S. strategy is correct, and America must stay the course in Iraq, the nation's top military officer told the House Armed Services Committee here June 23.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, answers a question June 23 during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. military strategy in Iraq. Photo by Staff Sgt. D. Myles Cullen, USAF

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

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iraq has seen "steady progress" since the transfer of sovereignty last year.

One sign of that progress is the Iraqi security forces. More than 92,000 Iraqis are serving in Interior Ministry forces, and the Iraq military has almost 76,000 members. Last year, Myers noted, one Iraqi battalion was capable of deploying in Iraq. Today, there more than 100 Iraqi battalions are engaged in the fight against violent extremists.

"Of course, there are many, many challenges that still remain," Myers said. "We see that every day, as violent extremists murder innocent men, women and children, and sabotage the efforts of the Iraqi people and coalition."

But while the violence is real, so is the progress, and the American people cannot ignore that, Myers said. "Every day also, the new Iraqi government, with the help of the coalition, takes significant, positive steps down the road to freedom and to security," he said.

Myers said the battle in Iraq isn't just any battle against terror groups, but "the central battle." Enemy forces know they cannot beat the coalition militarily. The violent extremists, the chairman said, count on U.S. resolve weakening. "One thing I can assure you of is that the resolve of the men and women in uniform is firm and will not weaken," Myers said.

The chairman said leaving Iraq before the job is done "would be catastrophic, not only for Iraq, but also for the overall struggle against the violent extremism and our national security."

Myers said U.S. troops in Iraq understand exactly what's at stake in Iraq. "I'm very proud of all our servicemen and women, and ... proud of their tremendous determination, tremendous courage, and their compassion under very, very challenging conditions," he said.

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Gen. Richard B. Myers, USAF

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