Myers Leaves Top Military Post Confident of Iraq Strategy
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2005 Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers started his last day on the job today reflecting on the war on terror that's dominated his term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and affirming his belief that the United States "will be successful in Iraq."
Myers, who retires today as the top military officer and with four decades of service, said during CBS's "The Early Show" that he's always been "very realistic" about the situation in Iraq and has never viewed it through rose-colored glasses.
"It's a huge undertaking," he said, noting that the coalition in Iraq is working together to achieve "something that's never been done in this world before."
Speaking on NBC's "Today" show, Myers said, "We have made great progress in Iraq in a task that is very, very difficult (and) never been attempted before to bring peace, stability and democracy to a key country, a key country between Sunni and Shiia Islam in the Middle East."
"And we're making progress," he said. "We've had elections. We're going to have a constitutional referendum here in October. We're going to have elections in December. We've got Iraqi security forces coming online."
Overall, Myers said on the Early Show, "I don't think anybody who looks at this can say that we haven't made progress."
Myers dismissed media characterizations, based on Sept. 29 hearings on Capitol Hill, that the Iraqi security forces are less capable now than three months ago.
"Absolutely not," the chairman said of that assessment. "Just one example: a year ago we had essentially no Iraqi army battalions ready to fight anybody. Today we have 86 that are in the fight, that are out there fighting."
Myers called continued success in Iraq critical to long-term stability in the Middle East and the world, particularly because Iraq is "such a central battlefield for al Qaeda."
"And if we can bring peace, stability and democracy to that region, to Iraq," he said, "it will change, not only security there, but security of the men and women here in the United States and our children and our grandchildren."
Looking back, Myers readily admits that some mistakes have been made along the way and that he wishes some things had been handled differently.
But, he said, he's convinced that "our strategy overall is on track," that progress is steadily taking place, and that the coalition will succeed over the insurgents.
"I think they are alienating themselves from the Iraqi public and from moderate Muslims around the world," the chairman said of the terrorists carrying out "atrocious acts of barbarism (and) killing innocent men, women and children."
"Their strategy is failing," Myers said. "Ours, in fact, is winning. And we will be successful in Iraq."