Joint Chiefs Chairman Says Expectations Not Lowered in Iraq
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 17, 2005 The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff today dismissed rhetoric that the United States has lowered its expectations in Iraq.
Speaking with Matt Lauer in Baghdad, Iraq, on NBC's "Today" program, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers blamed the rhetoric on people hoping to expose a rift between military leaders in Iraq and officials in Washington.
Emphasizing that plans in Iraq are "on track," the United States' top military officer said those who say otherwise are "are trying to find some divide between the military leadership over here and the folks back in Washington and so forth."
"I can guarantee you there is none," Myers said.
The chairman acknowledged that not every initial expectation came to pass in Iraq. "Before all this started, we had academic experts from all over the world explain to us what we were going to find after major combat," he said. "Sometimes they were right (and) we found what they said. And other times we didn't find what they predicted."
He attributed that to the nature of the conflict. "This is a different kind of war," he said, "and it's the nature (of it) that this enemy keeps adapting."
Still, the general said, progress has gone forward in Iraq by every measure. "In every sphere, whether it's security, whether it's economic progress or political progress, you know, we're pretty much proceeding along the plan to an end state where you have a self-reliant Iraq that has a constitution, that has an election under that constitution," he said.
The progress shows that despite continued violence, terrorists have been unable to stop the march toward achieving the goals of a new Iraq, Myers said, nor will they succeed in doing so.
"Nobody's taken us off that path," he said. "The insurgency that we fight day in and day out, as challenging as it is, can't sway us off that path. They cannot be victorious."
Myers said the American troops in Iraq are a big part of the reason he's optimistic about success. They know their mission and they want to accomplish it, he said, in part because of the Iraqi people they've come to know.
"They didn't know them before they came," he said. "Now they know them, and they understand that people all around the world have the same aspirations. They want a better life for their children and their grandchildren. They're going to try to help make that happen."
Myers also noted that Iraqis continue to step up for their country. "I think, as you talk to Iraqis, you see their courage in stepping forward," he said. "Whether it's the political sphere or in the security sphere, they step forward and they're wanting to put their lives on the line for this new Iraq."
Again, the chairman disputed any notion that expectations have been lowered. "I was in Crawford (Texas) last week with the president, with the secretary of defense, with the secretary of state," he said. "We all know where we're going. I know what they expect of the United States military, and we're executing those plans, and there's not lowered expectations.
"There are very high expectations" that progress will continue through a constitutional referendum and national elections, Myers said. He said he also expects "that the Iraqi people will have a chance for hope and freedom that they haven't had for decades."